Recently, there’s been much debate among outdoor enthusiasts as to what is considered responsible recreation during the current Covid-19 pandemic. As an avid adventurer myself, I have been wondering if it is okay to go hiking on local trails. What happens when they inevitably become overrun by restless hoards of casual hikers? Can we then head into the backcountry to avoid crowds and maintain the required social distancing? What is an active, nature loving person to do in these strange times?!
What are the Experts Saying?
A recent article from Oregon Public Broadcasting entitled “The Mountains Are Calling, But Should You Go?” by Ian McCluskey tackles these tough questions. This article reports that in some parts of the United States, including backcountry regions in Colorado and California, high-risk, outdoor activities such as rock climbing and backcountry skiing, have been banned. The concern with these activities is that should an accident occur, rescuers would be unable to take the proper precautions in a backcountry setting to prevent getting Covid-19; not to mention the unnecessary burden it would add to an overburdened healthcare system.
“It seems that best practice for backcountry travel has changed in 2020. Turns out, the safest way to recreate in the backcountry these days is to not. Stay home. Switch gears. Find a new focus. ”Peter Benton from Backcountry Skiing Canada
In a second article, entitled “How to stay safe in Alaska’s Backcountry During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, author Jeremy LaGoo of KTVA urges people to “exercise extreme caution when getting outside” so that we don’t take first responders away from the frontlines the Covid-19 pandemic. He points out that “by putting yourself in the face of danger you are potentially taking valuable resources from those in need”.
However, he recognizes that not everyone will heed the recommendation to stay out of the backcountry, and urges those who venture out to follow social distancing recommendations, and reminds them that now is not the time to push their limits by trying new and difficult routes.
How to Conquer Caged-Bear-Syndrome
Drawing on the expert advice above, as well as our compassion for those in our community that are more vulnerable than ourselves, I have come up with 3 recommendations on how people, formerly known as backcountry adventurers, can conquer Caged-Bear-Syndrome during the current Covid-19 Pandemic:
- Walk, run, bike – I know, I know, these activities may not be as extreme as you’re used to, but, for the sake of our rescuers, their families, and other members of our community that are relying on them during this crisis, please play it safe by exercising close to home. While these activities may not satisfy your itch for adrenaline and adventure, they will provide just enough vitamin D and fresh air to keep you from pulling your hair out.
- Plan Future Trips – Remember, the outdoors will still be there next year. Take this time to plan an epic trip that you can daydream about until all of this is over and you’re released back into nature like the wild creature that you are.
- Address a Weakness – Make the most of this this involuntary time-out from your hardcore adventures by addressing a weakness. Rehab an old injury that’s been cramping your style, learn a cool new party trick like the hand-stand push-up, or work on that abysmal flexibility.
So go ahead, dust off that old bike, dream up new adventures that will put your past endeavors to shame, and start leveling up in preparation for them. Our first responders, community, and maybe, just maybe…. your future self, will thank you.
My name is Clarissa Cabbage and I am an avid adventurer and lifelong athlete and competitor. I hold a Master’s Degree in Exercise and Wellness, and am a certified Corrective Exercise Specialist. I currently work as the Director of Operations for two different adventure companies specializing in waterfall rappelling, hiking, and kayaking. If you have questions, comments or just want to say hi, please don’t hesitate to contact me on twitter or Instagram @YourAdventureHQ.