As I sit down to write this, it’s the Friday before the 3-day Memorial Day Weekend holiday. It’s also the 65th day of California’s Stay-at-Home order, so the days of the week and holidays don’t seem to carry the same weight.
Trails are reopening all over the country, and people are itching to get on them. We used to call it “spring fever” but the effects this year are magnified by the coronavirus. We all want to get out. I encourage you to do so. I’ve been out, and I have plans to get out even this weekend.
But… Let’s recreate responsibly.
This is not about being in fear, or impinging on “freedom”. It’s about being considerate for others, particularly those who have family who may be at-risk.
Here are some ways that you can #RecreateResponsibly this weekend, and throughout the days, weeks and months ahead.
1. Know Before You Go
2. Plan Ahead
Most parks that are open have limited facility access. Restrooms and visitor centers may be closed. Bring everything you’ll need to be self-sufficient.
3. Practice Physical Distancing
Go solo, or with others from your immediate household. There will be a time for group hikes, but this is not it. And it goes without saying (or it should) but don’t venture out if you are feeling sick.
4. Play It Safe
This is not the time to try your hand at winter mountaineering or backcountry skiing for the first time. There’s always an element of risk when in the wilderness, but this is not the time to push the envelope. Search-and-Rescue (SAR) operations are in some places entirely suspended or certainly strained.
5. Stay Close to Home
You’re itching for a road trip, but most places are asking you to stay close to home. What is “close to home?” I like the Washington Trails Association’s definition: somewhere you can travel to and back without stopping.
6. Leave No Trace
Many parks and trailheads have limited or suspended trash pickup, so whatever you bring with you, pack it out as well. In fact, bring a trash bag and some gloves, and earn some karma points by picking up some extra trash while you’re out there. You might even want to brush up on the seven LNT principles before you go.
Share the Message!
Finally, share the heck out of this message. Judging by the photos we’ve seen at popular trailheads, there are a lot of people with a newfound appreciation for the outdoors. Let’s get the word out and help education them on how to #RecreateResponsibly. You can share this post, and download the entire toolkit at www.recreateresponsibly.org.
How are you recreating responsibly? Let us know by tagging your social media posts with #RecreateResponsibly, or leave a comment below.