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.

Flowery Hikes: High Knob

Despite having hiked to High Knob Fire Tower a dozen plus times, this was the only time all four of the following conditions were met:

1: The trees were green.

2. It was not rainy/foggy .

3. Flowers were blooming.

4. I was matching my hiking partner.

Pink flowers in the middle of the woods

And this all happened on my first hike here, which spoiled me during subsequent visits (when it was either raining or brown)

Black dog staring longily at the mountains from the top of a fire tower

This is Nala, who was not feeling the fire tower at the end. We cheered her up the stairs (like literally screamed, “You can do it, Nala! ” For about 5 minutes until she went up with us). This is not my dog (I do not have a dog), but a dog I was dog sitting for.

Anyway, 10/10. This hike is one of my favs when I want to hike but don’t want to put in the effort of really hiking (as in driving to some far away location, packing a bunch of snacks/water, and being out all day).

Also, I recommend the redneck gas station further down 33 (pass the parking lot for High Knob; just keep going – it’s the first one there, you can’t miss it). The bathrooms are very clean and they have ice cream for dogs, which this old man recommended I get for Nala who (apparently) yowled like the devil was on her heels the entire time I was was using the restroom. The ice cream for humans wasn’t bad either.

View of the blue ridge mountains