Some common sense tips to keep you (and others) safe when hiking

Good hygiene and maintaining the appropriate social distance are central themes in this checklist of recommendations for hikers during this time of COVID-19:

Keep your hands clean. Use wet wipes and hand sanitizer. Better yet, use biodegradable soap and water to scrub your hands, well away from water sources, of course.

Don’t share anything. Your utensils, cup, bowl and water bottles are yours alone. Keep the errant fingers of others out of your GORP or Fritos bag.

Don’t touch. Keep fingers away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Avoid contact with trail registers, picnic tables, benches, outhouse doors and seats, shelter surfaces, but if you can’t, wash very carefully afterward.

Cover your mouth. Properly direct your cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm or into a tissue (pack it out) or bandanna.

Keep your distance. Maintain social distance — six feet is the current directive — between you and other hikers, on the trail and at natural gathering points like trail junctions, viewpoints and rest stops. If you meet other hikers on the trail, give them space and a smile and wave.

Senior or existing medical condition? If you’re over 60 or have a chronic medical condition (say, heart disease or diabetes), you have a greater than average risk of complications from COVID-19, making it all the more critical to practice social distancing.

Feeling sick? If you know you’re sick or are feeling so, strictly avoid any contact with other hikers. Don’t go hiking in the first place, it need not be said, but if you’re already on a hike, pack it up and head for home.

Camping. Avoid trailside shelters. Dispersed camping well away from other parties is best.

Leave No Trace. You know the seven principles, so keep them in mind, especially “Dispose of Waste Properly.” Correctly handling your #2 demands the use of a backpacker trowel.

Getting to the trail. Try to hike locally. Carpooling is out (except with members of your own household) and taking separate cars is in. Don’t congregate at the trailhead.

Solo hiking. Given the current circumstances, you may find yourself going hiking alone, maybe for the first time ever. Make sure you’re properly prepared and exercise due caution on the trail.

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