March 23, 2020|Outdoor Activities
*These tips are accurate at the time of posting. Things may have changed since you read this, so keep that in mind.*
So much about about COVID-19 sucks. I could go on and on with that list, but you already know it, so let’s move on. Let’s talk about ways to make it suck a little less. Yes, I am talking about the great outdoors!
Many of us outdoorsman have perfected the art of social distancing. We go find our favorite spot to get away from people, so we are already pros. With all of the new guidelines that are coming out, are we still allowed to explore? The answer is yes (with some guidelines of course!).
The more people use social distancing, the faster this will go away and we can get back to our normal lives. With that in mind, going outside and being “one with nature” does not necessary mean you are practicing good social distancing habits. For example, the hoards of people at the National Mall for the cherry blossoms, or the people flocking to the beaches is not good social distancing. It can even happen with some of our favorite trails like Old Rag and White Oak Canyon (both are now closed due to crowds). We need to pick our destination with care.
Here are some tips that you can use to get outdoors and still keep yourself and others safe:
1. Be flexible. No, I am not talking about being able to bend over and touch your toes. Be ready to move onto Plan “B” (or plan Q at the rate things change). Have a couple of ideas in case the first one doesn’t work out.
2. Choose wisely. If you pull into the parking area and struggle to find a space, that would be a good reason to move onto “Plan B”. Now is a great time to really look at trails you have not thought of before. Look at state forest (did you know that we over 214,000 acres of state forest in Maryland?) for lesser traveled trails. We have great national forests within an easy drive. State, local, and national parks are getting pretty crowded right now, so stay clear. Just remember, if you can hit someone with your hiking pole, then you are too close.
3. Bring what you need. Make sure to pack whatever food you will need for the trip so that you do not need to stop a long the way. If you have everything you need with you, it will minimize the amount of people you have to interact with. This includes bringing hand sanitizer since you won’t have soap and water.
4. Camp primitive. If you are looking to go camping, consider a primitive campground. I am looking to try out Savage River State Forest and Dolly Sods soon (if all goes well). You have to bring all of your own things and they are generally less crowded.
5. No thru-hikes. If this was your year for the big thru-hike, reconsider. There are many different articles on this and all advise against long distance hiking.
Getting outdoors is so good for mental health (as well as physical health). If people can start using some common sense, we will be permitted to continue getting outdoors. If people continue to make poor choices which their outdoor activities, we will all suffer. I would love to hear of some lesser known trails that you like. Post in the comments so that others might enjoy them too.