To hike, or not to hike; That is the question

Ironically, through their inconsistency, dogs send a consistent message: The only thing we can control is our own behavior. That’s a good concept to embrace during the global coronavirus pandemic.

Because of conflicting messaging, coronavirus stay-at-home orders have been particularly trying and confusing for hikers. We’re being told to both stay home and go out and hike because it’s “safe.”

The mantra of “practicing social distancing” is proving to be just a catch phrase as parking lots at popular trailheads are crammed full while vehicles circling like vultures wait for spaces. Social media is replete with visuals of large groups congregating and cars parked bumper-to-bumper along forest service roads near “remote” trails where “nobody goes.”

Trail closures and restrictions that began as precautions are now necessities to protect public health.

A few weeks ago, the drift was all about “stay home and stay safe,” “we’re in this together,” “let’s care for each other” and “please stay away from small towns to stem the spread of the virus.”

Now we are bombarded with pleas from small businesses and communities to “send hikers to them” and a swell of “we’re open for business” reminders. Clearly, the novelty of the novel virus has lost its panache.

If we start directing hikers to small communities that depend on tourism to survive in a time when visitors are vectors of disease, will it be welcome relief or a health hazard?

What to do? What to do…


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