How to Hike (Safely) During COVID

I have no clue what the name of this trail is. Best I can say is the trail was right by the lake in the first parking lot in the Sherando Recreation Area (which is still closed, FYI).

The hike I was going to do was blocked by a closed road. Although Google said the park was open (which now I know Google cannot be trusted for any useful information in regards to things being open or closed) it clearly was not, so instead I hiked this Something Trail.

As usual, I got lost. Right at the start too – I went the wrong direction. I don’t even think I was on a trail, I was just sort of wandering through the woods and decided to make a trail.

Pro Tip: If you’re walking up a mountain of endless rocks, no blazes, trail, or end in sight, turn around. Unless you’re trying to trail-blaze or get lost/injured. Fortunately, eventually a trail was found.

It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, I had an apple, and this was shortly before all the trails in my area closed (not going to lie, hopping barriers crossed my mind several times during quarantine but I abstained like the good American citizen I sometimes am…).

I tapped out about an hour and a half into the hike due to time constraints and lack of snacks, at a nice, rocky view point. The trail kept kept going though…

Anyway, to make this somewhat COVID related, here are some tips from me who knows nothing about hiking safely during COVID, or at any other time in history.

How to Sort of Hike Safely During Covid:

  1. Hike by yourself.
  2. Hike alone.
  3. Solo hike. (Make sure to tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back).
  4. Drive yourself to the trail. Meet a friend at the trailhead. Stay 6 feet apart as you hike.
  5. Drive with a friend, but keep them in your trunk so you can maintain social distancing.
  6. Drive with a friend, but strap them to the roof of your car so you can maintain social distancing. Although this might not be 6 feet, the roof of your car should provide a nice barrier between you and their coronagerms.
  7. Drive with a friend but sanitize your car, wear masks, keep them in the backseat, and open the windows. If necessary, erect a Captain America’s shield between you and them. Kind of like a cop car but think vibranium instead of bars.
  8. Carry hand sanitizer and wet wipes.
  9. Don’t sneeze or cough on folks as you pass them. Hide your germs.
  10. Hike during a random weekday (early morning or evening), so you’ll have no company except the bears and the friend you strapped to the roof of your car.
  11. Pick a lightly-traversed trail, or hike part of a long trail.
  12. Pee beforehand otherwise you’ll end up peeing in the woods because everything is closed (not that this has ever happened to me before). Also, public restrooms are gross and should be avoided during non-pandemic times as well.
  13. Shower and change your clothes when you come home. Wash those coronagerms away.

Regardless, get outside and enjoy nature.

Hiking Isle A Haute in Maine

Context: It’s 2018. We three adventurers (myself and two friends, M and H) take a one-hour boat ride to Isle Au Haut in Maine. We have a great time hiking, enjoying a chill lunch by the water, and taking pictures for the gram.

A white lighthouse by the ocean

However, we (meaning I) wanted to hike to Duck Harbor Mountain. I’m very task oriented so once I get it in my head to do something, I will do it. My friends are more of the dilly dally type, which is fine but we had to be back by 4:00pm to avoid missing the boat and it was about 2:00 when I realized we weren’t going to make it to the mountain moving at the speed of aging turtles.

M and H are indeed dilly dallying by a cliff’s edge, taking pictures. I take my picture and return to the trail, pausing to make eye-contact with H. I say loudly (I think) that I’m going to keep going. And I do.

So there I go, hiking at the speed of a dying slug through beautiful woods with the sound of ocean waves permeating the air. My friends have yet to catch up, oddly. I take a 15 minute break on a comfy rock, eat an apple, and marvel at the beauty of God’s creation. A Hiker Couple passes me. I greet them. My friends are nowhere to be found. Now my annoyance reaches peak levels, I mean why are they hiking so slowly? I told them I wanted to see the view from the Mountain.

So off I go once more. Eventually, I hit this fork in the road (no picture, sadly). It gives me three options: Duck Harbor Mountain, Goat Something, And Wherever I Came From. I realize (sadly) my friends will never know which way I’ve gone as I only lightly voiced my desire to go to Duck Harbor Mountain earlier. I consider going anyway and just meeting them at the boat, but something tells me to turn around. So I begrudgingly head back.

I nearly careen into my amigas on the trail. They are sweaty and breathless, and elated at the sight of me. I’m irked and wondering, why are they so breathless hiking slow as they were?

Well, this is why.

H saw me briefly, but didn’t hear me say I was hiking onward. So they took a few pictures and discovered I have seemingly vanished into thin air. They gaze down into the watery abyss known as the ocean, wondering if I’ve slipped and drowned (I cannot swim and am clumsy so it’s a reasonable assumption). They do not see my corpse floating anywhere (and I was nowhere near the edge when I vanished anyway) so they rule that out and assume someone has kidnapped me while they weren’t looking (also a reasonable assumption as I’m unobservant and would hardly notice anyone following me).

They split up. H hikes backwards. M hikes forward. Both intent on throwing hands on my behalf. M must’ve stopped just short of where I was taking a break before turning around. H hiked all the way back to the trailhead (which was a significant distance away) and asked the ranger there if she had seen me. She had not.

Did I mention there is no cell service on this island?

M went far enough to run into Hiker Couple, who confirmed I was still among the free. M and H regrouped and hustled forward, eventually running into me. They were about two minutes from calling search and rescue as they legitimately thought somebody had kidnapped me and Hiker Couple had mistaken me for someone else.

Needless to say, I did not get to see the view from Duck Harbor Mountain, because we instead wisely choose to make it back to the boat on time. But I have some pretty awesome (and fit) friends. We’re all able to laugh about this now and I have since refrained from wandering off when hiking with others, less they think a Sasquatch has taken me hostage.

Anyway, 10/10. Definitely recommend visiting Acadia National Park in Maine.