The potential conflict between hiking and social distancing

10:18 a.m. on April 2, 2020 (EDT)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
7,700 reviewer rep
2,357 forum posts

in suburban DC (Maryland), the National Park Service has closed parking lots to one of the national park areas near Great Falls, on the Potomac River. Why? particularly on weekends but flooding into weekdays, vehicles crammed the parking areas, and the C&O Canal and adjacent trails have been busy. Too busy to effectively to keep a six foot plus envelope from other people, unless you're out early in the morning. i have been getting the bulk of the walking/hiking in first thing in the morning, out by 7 a.m., so these places are fairly sparsely traveled then.

I suppose this is a symptom of living in a suburb near a fairly substantial urban area, but the lack of respect for basic constraints that are going to slow and stop a virus that's several degrees more lethal than the seasonal flu is remarkable. 

10:33 a.m. on April 2, 2020 (EDT)
LoneStranger
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
10,075 reviewer rep
1,626 forum posts

The people who think it is more important to do what they want than to join the collective effort will contribute to extending the problem. The Maine Hiking FB group I follow is full of people celebrating their freedom and others horrified at them. Hubris is what got us where we are today and hubris will keep us here for some time I fear.

12:48 p.m. on April 2, 2020 (EDT)
Old Guide
447 reviewer rep
443 forum posts

LoneStranger said:

The people who think it is more important to do what they want than to join the collective effort will contribute to extending the problem. The Maine Hiking FB group I follow is full of people celebrating their freedom and others horrified at them. Hubris is what got us where we are today and hubris will keep us here for some time I fear.

 I believe you are right!

2:30 p.m. on April 2, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,360 reviewer rep
1,607 forum posts

I have "evolved" on this one.  I originally planned to continue my monthly jaunts to local wilderness areas (my last one was in early March), as I still would meet the intent and letter of the local shelter-at-home order here in town.  Without stopping, I could drive to and from a wilderness trailhead that sees little traffic and hit trails with noone on them, with no real risk to myself or others. However, I decided to hold off and then the NC Governor issued a statewide executive order...which includes leaving home for Essential Activities only.  That sealed the deal for me. 

Plus, even if I could keep distanced all the time and meet the Order, where does the line get drawn between someone like me who knows the quiet places, and those who want to do something similar but only know the popular ones (US Forest Service just closed a lot of the Appalachian Trail access points due to crowding).  Better safe than sorry...the wilderness will be there. 

I will be traveling a bit for work as we are classified as an "Essential Business", but staying home otherwise...walking 5 miles a day round the neighborhood but not going to the local park, which although in a smaller suburb town is still crowded enough for me to get nervous. I'm enjoying my local lakes in the neighborhood, and the spring birds coming in, and hope for a better gardening year as I usually am in the hills in spring and always planting late or not watering.

I do miss having a pack on my back, so the neighbors may be looking at me more weirdly than usual when I start carrying one around the neighborhood to keep in hiking shape...

3:21 p.m. on April 2, 2020 (EDT)
ghostdog
0 reviewer rep
308 forum posts

We have started going out before sunrise before most are out hiking. They did close the parking lot to our entry point so everyone just parks along the road. We just walk from home. I’m trying to not be too judgmental because the world is truly freaking out and getting out for exercise is essential. We did 11k this morning with our light packs over lots of ups and downs, rocky terrain and beautiful desert garden vistas. 5k on the flats won’t do the magic for us, the endorphin flow, mature’s morphine. It makes all the difference. The powers that be have to learn how to control the flow in high use times. People are ready to explode and need to get those ya yas out before domestic violence becomes worse than the virus. I mean we met a divorce lawyer on the trail last year whose practice will probably explode when this is all over.

We try to be kind and step we’ll away from others. This does work for the most part but the fact that 50% of the population is on the wrong side of the bell curve means there will be some 40 watt bulbs screwing up at times. We try to compensate and roll on.

2:32 a.m. on April 3, 2020 (EDT)
whomeworry
125 reviewer rep
3,550 forum posts

Where was the boy who cried wolf, when we needed him?

Oh, that's right, he did sound the alarm.  But he was ignored because he cried wolf one time too often.  Such is the lack of respect for the efforts of experts in charge of hurricane and epidemic forecasting.  The US government actually knew of this threat over a year ago.  But we (the world) failed to act promptly.  Add to that are the willful attempts by partisans to claim all the fuss is a liberal deep state thing to discredit the President, and you get a significant part of the population inclined to do the very opposite what what the "experts" advise, under the illusion such a rebellious attitude somehow translates into a gesture of support for the President.  This lib does not blame the President or any specific individual for our fate, and I wish those making this into a political hot potato would stand aside and let the adults in the room focus on getting us out of this mess.  Less finger pointing and more problem solving would be appreciated.

I will continue to comply with all corona directives, but unfortunately all the diligence at this point may be moot.  Anyone who has worked with systems that have exponential performance curves understand it is almost impossible to impart meaningful changes in the outcomes, if such systems aren't mitigated VERY EARLY on the curve.  Consider a loaf of bread: one day is looks just fine, but the next day you spot mold growing on one of the end slices.  If you remove the contaminated slice immediately, you may salvage most of the loaf.  But if another slice on the other end of the loaf get molds, then most of the loaf is already contaminated, and impossible to save through nominal intervention.  In the case of the Corona virus, very early is before the virus spread from its city of origin, definitely well before it spread from China.  Ergo we are probably too late to significantly alter the curve in the US.  IMO our response at this point is as futile as taking two birth control pills daily in an attempt to prevent pregnancy, when in fact you are already one month pregnant.

The latest predictions from the feds is this could kill up to 200K souls.  As dreadful as that sounds, that is actually a good outcome.  Math built on the previously understood mortality rates of this pandemic (.6%-1.5% mortality among the infected) projects up to 2M fatalities in the US, considering millions could get infected before this runs its course.

For most of us the ugly reality hasn't even begun.  Dig in, a big storm is coming that may not be done with us until sometime next spring.  I hope you all weather the storm; otherwise who am I to bore with my cockeyed POVs and Gordian knot-like logic? 

Ed

5:15 a.m. on April 3, 2020 (EDT)
BigRed
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
6,632 reviewer rep
1,206 forum posts

I am fortunate in having Estenstadmarka, one of Trondheim's forest areas, right out my back door, with about 50 km of groomed xc trails and lots of trails between trails and trails between those to disperse onto. I have already been going out at 6-6:30 AM all winter because of my crazy dog, who lunges at other skiers and goes nuts when he sees other dogs, out of some mix of curiosity, eagerness, maybe a little fear, but not really aggression -- if he gets to greet people he is generally friendly and even submissive, with other dogs it depends as much on the other dogs reactions as on his own impulses. The snow has been sort of coming and going all winter, with snowstorms all too often followed by thaw or rain and the trails on my end of the system the first to go, but we've had continuous skiing at the slightly higher elevations for ± 3 months. If conditions are bad, I run, sometimes with skis in hand and microspikes on feet to get to the good stuff. We're getting a dose of snow tonight. I usually do 60-100 km of xc skiing a week, and I can continue with that for another week or two until spring really hits and then it's trail running to keep in shape. 

Next week is Norway's traditional Easter holiday week, when folks head to their cabins in the mountains or the coast or travel to the Canary Islands or other warm-dry places, but we are ordered to stay in our home towns. So I too have retreated from plans to pull off some long day trips to get in some mountain skiing, at least for the next couple of weeks, but early tomorrow daughter, son-in-law and I will drive 20 min to a nearby closed alpine ski area to ski some (hopefully) powder. That's stretching things slightly since it's in the next town over and there is some small probability that one of us will get hurt, but it's actually pretty tame compared to the mountain skiing so I think we can take care of ourselves. Still hoping that with some curve-flattening I can get in a few mountain trips in late-April to May, prime backcountry ski season, but I'm prepared to hold off if I have to.

I am also very fortunate in having a job that I can do online from a home office. The campus is basically shut down and we're all trying to figure out how to use online tools to continue important business and get to the end of the semester. I just had a two hour Teams meeting with colleagues. I'm currently teaching a course in Global Change Biology that went into group work phase just before things blew up, so the students are continuing with their group work online, and I mainly have to supervise and be available.

It seems to me this thing could start to take off again as soon as restrictions are eased, so like Ed I'm thinking this will drag on for months, until enough people have been infected and recovered or there is enough vaccine to establish some level of herd immunity. Already thinking about how I might teach my big lab course in plant physiology next fall. 

10:33 p.m. on April 7, 2020 (EDT)
stevet
7 reviewer rep
158 forum posts

I am not sure what the right thing to do is.  My wife and I are hunkered down, working from home and minimizing trips to the grocery, etc.  Haven't ventured to any nearby trails even as the weather in upstate NY has allowed.  I believe this is an over reaction and will prolong the pain, but have no data that suggests otherwise so am playing my part and following the advice peddled by Cuomo and the White House.  

On the other hand we have Sweden which isn't doing much of anything other than telling people to "be smart" and then letting the virus spread throughout the population.  I'd much prefer this approach, thinking it will spread immunity through the populace at faster clip, though realize if we don't behave smart it could bring the infirm to a more rapid death.

Two different experiments on what to do.  We may have an idea which is better in 2-3 months, but probably won't know for sure until we get through the next season (or June/July of next year).  And if I were to guess, once we ease the shelter at home restrictions we'll see an uptick in the infected rate until this thing runs its course.  

8:30 a.m. on April 8, 2020 (EDT)
Old Guide
447 reviewer rep
443 forum posts

stevet; I read that abt Sweden. Its interesting, tell the old to stay home and the youth to  continue on...but, 1.  how long will immunity last? Since its viral maybe less than a year, and 2. how will the elders become immune or do they just wait for the vaccine? [most likely].

It, their method, does seem to work there.

If nothing else, this Pandemic is teaching all of us many thing in so many ways.

9:31 a.m. on April 8, 2020 (EDT)
Patman
REVIEW CORPS
3,278 reviewer rep
2,311 forum posts

Yeah I'm also perplexed by the example of Sweden. Glanced at the WHO dashboard and their numbers are low. 7690 cases in a population of 10,000,000. So only .07 percent of them have been infected.  

And for the United States, we are something like 400,000 cases in a population of 330,000,000, so .11 percent of us are infected. 

As we've watched our country become the epicenter of this pandemic, why do you think we are so bad at containment here in the US? overconfidence? a "maverick" spirit? are we somehow more social than other countries? 

Last week on our way to pick up groceries we observed a glut of maybe 50 people gathered at a walk-up window at a local ice-cream parlor, all crowded around the menu board. For ice cream? Really? 

We've also talked to friends and neighbors that have mentioned going to Lowe's and Home Depot just to go somewhere out of boredom. Not that they really needed anything. Huh? 

I guess I answered my own question. Other ideas?

9:45 a.m. on April 8, 2020 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,111 forum posts

Go where the people aren't.

10:34 a.m. on April 8, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,360 reviewer rep
1,607 forum posts

So I still don't trust any numbers or percentages...there will be variation in each country based on how many people are getting tested...if keeping it to serious cases, numbers are low and mortality high...just confusing if they don't supply the amount of testing and how its being applied.  I haven't delved into the numbers to see but I am betting a lot of folks with mild symptoms aren't being tested so infection rate is much higher.

National Forests and State Forests in NC are emphasizing social distancing but a lot of people are still heading to the same places (easy access points).  They have closed a lot of trailheads.  I am staying away for the time being...although I will be stealth camping in the national forest (which is still allowed based on current State Executive Order and NF guidelines) tomorrow night, but that is due to work travel in western NC and avoiding a hotel.  Just walking into the woods a bit for the night between two projects and not go to a hotel or restaurant...a good old fashioned backpacking meal will be just fine even though I'm only walking a little way.

We are hitting the grocery store once every two weeks but now switching to foods-to-go orders from a local chain.  Other than that, Home Depot delivers so no need to go there but can still get gardening supplies and keep that side of the economy going.  They can drop stuff in the yard and let the sun bake it with UV for a while...

11:03 a.m. on April 8, 2020 (EDT)
LoneStranger
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
10,075 reviewer rep
1,626 forum posts

I'm with you on the lack of real data Phil. From country to country there is a lot of variance in terms of testing so you can't really compare the numbers. Later, among the countries that release honest numbers at least, you'll be able to look at deaths over expected norm to get an idea of how many died. We'll definitely have to do that here. Probably never have any clue as to how many total infections given the asymptomatic folks and lack of testing.

I'm also with you on NF camping instead of a hotel even when there isn't a pandemic. Dear departed brother of mine used to live in the forest while doing overnight telecoms work in various parts of the country. Some very peaceful forests out there if you go where the people aren't.

1:39 p.m. on April 8, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,360 reviewer rep
1,607 forum posts

As far as crowds for ice cream...people need to deal with a bit of hardship for goodness sake. My dad passed last year, but grew up in southern England during WWII.  Bombing occurring many nights, walking to school with gas masks, rationing in place on some items up to mid-1950's...I only listened to these stories but they were fresh in the mindset when I grew up...with that context I can handle this little bump in the road.

8:25 p.m. on April 8, 2020 (EDT)
Alicia MacLeay @Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF TOP 25 REVIEWER
2,371 reviewer rep
4,536 forum posts

I don't know how accurate this study is, but I found it interesting since it discusses actual distances for specific activities:

Belgian-Dutch Study: Why in times of COVID-19 you can not walk/run/bike close to each other.

What is a safe distance when running, biking and walking during COVID-19 times? It is further than the typical 1–2 meter as prescribed in different countries!

In a lot of countries walking, biking and jogging are welcome activities in these times of COVID-19. However, it is important to note that you need to avoid each other's slipstream when doing these activities. This comes out of the result of a study by the KU Leuven (Belgium) and TU Eindhoven (Netherlands).

 

8:50 p.m. on April 8, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,360 reviewer rep
1,607 forum posts

I've seen something similar from MIT...mentions 27 feet at times.

8:29 a.m. on April 9, 2020 (EDT)
Old Guide
447 reviewer rep
443 forum posts

37ft in a lab.

Uncaring, naïve, stupidity and boredom are some reasons people don't heed the warnings. Might not be so bad if more wore gloves and masks. I just took my wife in for bloodwork and I was parked near the door. Not one person wore gloves, most touched the door handles even tho a push button automatic door opener is there and I believe 2 people had masks... this includes staff going to work!

11:29 a.m. on April 9, 2020 (EDT)
andrew f. @leadbelly2550
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
7,700 reviewer rep
2,357 forum posts

it's safe to assume that authoritarian countries are not accurately reporting the number of cases or deaths, and in the US, testing problems and delays are undoubtedly resulting in less-than-accurate results in terms of timeliness and overall coverage. many more people in the US have gotten this virus than have been confirmed by testing, but if they're the 80% or so that recovers without getting hospitalized, the likelihood of getting tested is low.

it will be interesting to see if the US implements an effective antibody test as part of getting people back to work when the worst of this is behind us. that might give a better post-hoc view of how broadly this virus spread. considering how contagious this appears to be, i have to believe we will eventually see that it spread at least as broadly as seasonal flu.  

after Maryland issued its mandatory stay at home order, barricaded trailheads, and started limiting the number of individuals who could enter supermarkets, pharmacies, etc. (the latter started last weekend), and strongly suggested that people wear face coverings if they had to go out to do essential things, there was a fairly noticeable drop in foot traffic. 

12:05 p.m. on April 9, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,360 reviewer rep
1,607 forum posts

The other factor to consider in all the numbers watching folks are doing...difficult to compare countries and mortality rates without looking at the age structure of the country...one wirh a higher proportion of retiree ages will look different from a younger one. Data analysis can be complicated and gets glossed over by daily media updates.

12:08 p.m. on April 9, 2020 (EDT)
Ted Vahan
0 reviewer rep
6 forum posts

I'm in the same boat Phil.  Last hike was to Big Bald, 6 1/2 miles one way to the top and it was packed (this was 3 weeks ago) on a weekday when usually a trail like that is pretty quiet.  Then it became clear that the folks in the mountain communities are concerned about people bringing the virus with them, and/or stressing local first responders and health systems.

I look at it as a good time for many trails which really take a beating at times, to have a spring of recovery too.

10:27 a.m. on April 16, 2020 (EDT)
Old Guide
447 reviewer rep
443 forum posts

Years ago, the Norovirus affected the AP trail. I wish I had the link.

In NYS the Governor has ordered masks to be worn for any and everyone who may come in close contact with anyone else, including hikers. Why he didn't do this a month ago is beyond me. I think he is slow on many points and done a lousy job regarding the virus.

7:15 a.m. on April 17, 2020 (EDT)
FlipNC
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,360 reviewer rep
1,607 forum posts

Good point Ted. There are a lot of popular trails that need some serious rest...unfortunately they need a couple hundred of years to recover at least...

OG...Patman and I were discussing Norovirus on our last get together in the hills. Its been prevalent along popular trails like the AT for years. I havent stayed near or at an AT shelter in decades. They are bacteria and virus magnets...I would not be surprised other major trails are similar, if tested, due to the thru hiker "social hiking" boom the last couple of decades.

3:58 p.m. on April 20, 2020 (EDT)
g00se
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
12,465 reviewer rep
1,433 forum posts

I went into Mark Twain NF in March. My campsite was invaded while I cooked dinnet by at least 50 UTVs--100-150 drunk rednecks passing beer and dancing naked. They stayed for an hour and left.

I went to Shawnee NF this weekend. I encountered 3 groups of horseback riders. Groups of 20-30 each. At Jackson Falls, they were passing  a beer bong around. I passed through quietly, and one guy said,  "I  know what your thinking, but that corena stuff is for big cities, not us."

Otherwise, I've picked unpopular trailheads and have had the woods to myself--which is what I wanted to begin with.

10:20 a.m. on May 15, 2020 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,111 forum posts

Out behind the house, is a whole mountain range of public land. I am surprised at the amount of people out there now that so many are out of work.  There is a lot of shooting going on.  There are people living in little homemade trailers tucked in out of the way places.  Everything is open, but I sense a certain level of desperation that has never been there before. 

May 26, 2020
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply