Take a Hike….Pandemic!
The following is a guest blog written by Megan Meinen from UVM Student Life’s Outdoor Programs.
Take a Hike…but read this, first…
All the stores and restaurants are closed, classes are online, your home seems smaller than ever before and you feel trapped. Lots of the advice you’ve received about surviving social distancing says get outside and go for a walk, it’s good for you. Fresh air, spring flowers, bird sounds (have you noticed birds are louder than ever!?!) – you’ve gotta get outside. Right now, it seems like we are all either inside our homes or OUTSIDE, there are really no other places to be. With temperatures rising, more and more folks will be heading outside to enjoy the spring weather and we are all for getting outside! Here’s just a few considerations before heading out:
Think Outside the Box
With beautiful days and not much to do, people will be eager to get outside – but more people means it’ll be harder to keep your distance, especially on narrow mountain trails. If you really want to take a hike on a popular beginner to moderate peak (think something in the vein of Mount Philo or Stowe Pinnacle) consider doing this earlier in the morning when there may be less people. And while it may be difficult to change your plans, if the trail head parking lots seem full, maybe opt for a different hike instead.
Consider “The 5th Season”
Spring time also means more rain and melting snow. Mud Season is especially real in Vermont and other places with snowy summits, but almost everywhere has a “mud season” at some point. Consider the trails before you head out. Take the Green Mountain Club’s Advice and choose lower elevation hikes during this season. Oh, and if there is a puddle, don’t walk around it, walk thru it! This will preserve the trails and the surrounding environment.
Times are ‘Ruf’
You may be stoked to take your four-legged friend with you on a walk right now. Our canine friends might be itchin’ to stretch their legs even more than you are…but don’t forget that social distancing includes pets too, since they’ve been in your home with you. To help stop spreading the virus, leash your dog when on hikes so they don’t run up to others who will want to pet them too! I know, it’s really hard, especially when they want to run and play. If you need to let them free, find an empty field and throw a ball, or stick, or run with them – no one will be watching.
Cycle the City
Biking is another terrific option to get outdoors during this time. The roads are certainly more open than usual. I watched someone ride straight down the middle of the road on my morning run today in Burlington (not that I’m advocating for that). The same thing applies for the mountain biking as it does for hiking above – make sure to consider trail conditions. Since most bike shops are not doing tune ups during this time, it may be a good time to start learning how to tune your bike yourself.
Lastly, stay local. There are lots of great “hikes/walks” close to home. Explore that small natural areas that you have never been to before, watch as it comes alive again with the changing of the season. See if you can notice some plants you have never seen before. Technology can be your friend with tons of cool apps that can help you learn about and identify all the plants and animals that are out there (our fav is Seek).
If you are still in or around Burlington check out some of these local favorites (just to name a few):
- Niquette Bay State Park
- Red Rocks Park (soon it will be bursting with ephemeral flowers, the trout lilies and dutchman’s breeches are my favorites)
- Libby’s Lookout (Richmond)
- Wheeler Nature Park
- Rock Point
- Ethan Allen Homestead
Ultimately, in a time of teams meetings, virtual celebrations, and video chats with friends and families – stretching your legs, exercising your lungs, and clearing your mind will be more important than ever. Just don’t forget to stay informed, be aware of your surroundings, and don’t forget about the hidden dangers that exist around us in these COVID-19 time. If you’re interested in learning more about navigating trails in the outdoors, Outside Magazine recently had an informative write-up.
Now, get out there AND stay 6 feet for everyone else who is out there too!