Navigating access to outdoor spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic can be confusing, even in August 2020. While controlled venues like city, state, and national parks appear largely open, the situation remains fluid. Thankfully, hiking offers a wonderful escape during these times of quarantine, social distancing, and mask-wearing. Just like running and walking, it’s an activity readily available to most, requiring only a few simple adjustments.
For me, the bandana around my neck doubles as a convenient face mask, ready to deploy when passing someone within 6 feet. While continual mask-wearing is an option, it may not always be necessary. Parking lots, trailheads, and encounters on the trail are the key moments. Beyond those, constant masking can hinder oxygen intake and enjoyment.
A more practical approach: wear the mask down most of the time, pulling it up well in advance when spotting another hiker, runner, or biker within 50 yards. This courteous gesture usually prompts the other person to do the same. As for those without masks, their reaction is often a mix of awkwardness and curiosity about your caution.
But beyond practicalities, mask-wearing outdoors can carry another message. Even though the risk of transmission in open air is arguably low, abundance of caution sets a positive example. It shows respect for others and a commitment to navigating this shared challenge responsibly.
In conclusion, hiking can be a safe and uplifting activity during these unprecedented times. By adapting our behavior and prioritizing common courtesy, we can continue to enjoy the outdoors while helping keep ourselves and those around us safe. Remember, a bandana (or other readily available mask) and a little consideration can go a long way on the trail. So, lace up your boots, breathe deeply, and enjoy the journey, mask and all.