The best way to prepare for a future backpacking trip after the pandemic hasn’t changed. What better way to strengthen your body for hiking than by hiking? As long as you practice social distancing, hiking is a wonderful way to stay fit and clear your head from the daily reality of the pandemic.
If you are hoping to start hiking as soon as possible, take several precautionary steps to keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19. From wearing the right outdoor clothing to practicing social distancing, here are some ways to hike safely during the pandemic.
Behave Like You Have the Virus
How would you act if you knew you had COVID-19? Numerous studies report of young peoplecontracting the virus yet showing no symptoms. Also, the incubation period is 14 days, so you could be spreading the virus (without you knowing it). A “business as usual” attitude makes your loved ones and other people susceptible to the virus.
Before and during your hike, act like you have COVID-19. This mindset will guide you in all of your choices moving forward.
Refrain from Carpooling in the Trailhead Parking Lot
Carpooling is not advisable in this current climate. Driving with friends or family means you’ll be in tight proximity to people, which increases the risk for contracting or spreading the virus (unless you are driving with the people you live with).
If you are planning to celebrate the hike with post-trail drinks, do so virtually. Enjoy happy hour at home instead of sitting on the back of your truck and socializing with other hikers.
Practice Social Distancing on the Trail
Practice social distancing during a hike as you would during a supermarket run. When you stay away from people, you can slow the spread of a contagious disease. Your best bet for a safe hike during the pandemic is to only go out with people you live with.
To practice social distancing:
- Keep your distance from other hikers. Stay at least six feet apart.
- Refrain from socializing in big groups. Instead, get some exercise and clear your head.
- Pick a wider trail.
- Always step off the trail when letting people pass.
Hike During Off Hours
Hit the trails outside of peak times to avoid interacting with a large crowd. Most people prefer to hike in the morning or at sunset. Instead of hiking during these times, wake up a few hours before sunrise and enjoy a quiet walk on the trail while watching the sun come up. This way, you’ll be finished with your hike by the time people are hitting their trails.
Also, steer clear of popular trails. Instead, hike at lesser-known trails near your home to limit the people you encounter.
Think Twice About Climbing
Some hiking trips are more adventurous than others. Hikers looking for additional thrill go climbing after a walk. In the present climbing, however, climbing may not be a good idea. Just think about the sweaty hands that have grabbed a surface before you.
There is no study about the extent COVID0-19 can be transmitted via hands. Still, it pays to be safe. Avoid climbing if you can.
Put Your Hiking Goals on Hold
Hospitals and other healthcare providers have a lot on their hands right now. Do your part in helping the healthcare system by staying safe on the trail. Take extra precautions to prevent accidents.
Remember: now isn’t the time to take risks and go climbing or riding down the most rugged bike trail. Hike safely by going a little slower, taking your hiking goals down a notch, and simply enjoy your time outside.
Refrain from Petting Other People’s Pets (and Vice Versa)
Petting other people’s pets used to be a hiking norm. But during the pandemic, it may be best not to hug or kiss their cute dogs. There remains no study on whether the virus can live on your pet’s fur and skin. The primary concern is if the owner has the virus and that they pet or kiss their pets.
Just to be safe, avoid petting other people’s pets and try to not have them pet yours. Fawn over your pets while maintaining social distancing.
As hikers and travelers, you have the responsibility to ensure you are 100 percent self-sufficient to minimize your potential impact on the places you hike or travel through. If you are traveling to a remote hiking place, plan out your meals and stock up on your essentials. Also, make sure your gas tank is full, so you can minimize the number of trips to the gas station and grocery store.
Hiking during the pandemic is still possible – as long as you do it responsibly. You can clear your mind and do your part at the same time. Enjoy a responsible and safe hike!