As countries one by one start rolling out eased restrictions and introducing a gradual return to normal life, people are trying to get back into their old habits – especially those related to outdoor activities.
After spending days, weeks and months confined to their homes, boxed in between four walls, there has been a significant rise in the number of runners and hikers as parks and trails reopen. With the arrival of warmer weather, this number has doubled.
Not only does being out in nature provide a bit of relief from all the stress and the grim atmosphere at home but it also helps us release our pent up energy. However, before you go on a long-anticipated hike, there are certain precautions you should take to prevent yourself from contracting the coronavirus or unknowingly infecting others.
Checklist: Before you go on a hike
Being prepared before you hit the trail is important not only for your own safety, but also to reduce your dependence on others, especially busy health care workers, in case of a sticky situation.
– Navigation: Have your GPS, compass or map ready, especially if you are venturing into unexplored territory.
– Communication: In case you get lost, you will want to have a means of contact to alert authorities. Carry an extra battery if needed.
– Nutrition and hydration: Bring with you enough food and especially water as you will be burning up a lot of energy on mountainous trails. Plan to drink 1 liter of water for every two hours of hiking.
– Sun protection: Make sure you are wearing a wide-spectrum (meaning both UVA and UVB protection) sunblock of a sun protection factor of at least 30, sunglasses, a hat or a cap.
– Illumination: Carry a flashlight or a headlamp with you in your backpack if you are going on a hike later in the day.
– First aid supplies: You never know when you will be in a health emergency. Band-Aids, gauze pads, antiseptic sanitizing wipes and antibacterial ointment, as well as allergy or pain medication, are a good place to start.
– Emergency supplies: Include some matches to light a fire to warm up and a whistle for easier relocation.
– Extras: Make sure to bring an extra set of clothes. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics and base layers, and opt for polyester and nylon over cotton. A bottle of hand sanitizer and a few disposable face masks are also good to have on hand.
Checklist: During a hike
For your own good and for the sake of others amid this pandemic, here are some tips from experts on how to stay safe and be responsible while hiking.
– Choose the path less traveled: Don’t go to crowded starting points and popular trails; choose less populated routes. Have a back-up plan in case the trail you choose is overcrowded.
– Give others space: Don’t forget that social distancing still applies while hiking. If you see some hikers coming your way, make sure you put some distance between you and them and keep out of each other’s ways.
– Keep it short and sweet: Rather than going on hourslong hikes into the depths of the forests, keep these ventures outside relatively short.
– Stay local: This is not the time to go exploring into the unknown. Stick to closer trails and places you know. Don’t rely on others for transportation or other services.
– Go alone: Go on hikes alone or only with people in your household and those you have been in contact with. Some countries may also allow a certain number of people to gather for such events, provided they have all been self-isolating.
– Pack it in, pack it out: Do not throw your garbage into nature; dispose of it properly.
– Suds up: Wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you come home.
– And remember, if you don’t feel well, just postpone your hiking trip and make sure you abide by guidance from park officials and medical experts.