I had plans on posting Part 2 of hikes in Saguaro National Park, but in light of everything, I wanted to share my thoughts on the historical times we are living in, and some tips.
Right now, Washington, Oregon, and many other states have an active shelter-in-place order to try to stop the spread of COVID-19. As someone with her Master’s of Public Health with a focus in epidemiology, I applaud this effort. However, as a hiker, it’s rough. While exercise is still okay in these orders, the message is “if you need to get in your car to get to trailhead, it’s too far.” As important as the outdoors is for my mental health, I have to agree with that messaging. A small town needs to save every EMT and space in a hospital or urgent care center for those most vulnerable, not rescuing an unprepared hiker or wrapping a sprained ankle for a hiker.
So what is there to do for a hiker going stir-crazy at home?
WTA.org posted this great image, which I also shared on my Facebook. I think these are some great ideas! I am considered ‘essential’ so am still going in to the office on weekdays, but on weekends I fully planned to experiment with my food dehydrator some more. I own the book Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’ and the website Backpacking Chef is a great resource for those new to dehydrating as well. Do research the safest food-storage procedures and keep in mind to not hoard any ingredients when at the grocery store–there is enough for everyone. Besides backpacking cookbooks, there’s other hiking books! Any guidebooks by Craig Romano are a safe bet, and I also enjoyed the memoir Thirst by a PCT thru-hiker. Local libraries might be closed, but many are still allowing access to e-books for you to allow your imagination to wander when your body cannot.
In addition to reading about hikes, why not watch hikes? For the past year I’ve been following Mari Johnson’s 2019 PCT Thru-Hike on Youtube, and I loved watching the Whimsical Woman’s 2018 PCT hike as well. On my Amazon watchlist is Figure It Out on the Hayduke Trail, a documentary about an 800-mile thru-hike in Utah and Arizona. I also am lucky enough to have a few National Park jigsaw puzzles to put together, and for Christmas received PARKS: The Board Game which can even be played solo. The artwork in this game is stunning, and it will make you want to add new National Parks to your bucket list!
For those who want to get off their bum, this is a great time for hiking housekeeping. It’s gross but there are some things I will admit I never wash. Now is your chance to hand-wash or spot clean packs, pads, and tents. If you’re able to hang things outside, you can treat any clothing or gear with the bug-deterrent permethrin. Check for expired goods in your first-aid kit and make a list of what needs replacing. I found several small bottles of extra hand sanitizer this way!
I know none of these things are as thrilling as a hike itself. But if anything takes a village, it’s defeating a common enemy like COVID-19. If we all hunker down and ride this out, we can still hopefully get in tons of outdoor time later in 2020. I’d love to hear how you’re coping at home, or if you have any other hiking books or movies that are helping you get through this dry spell. Next week I’ll write about tips for reducing your pack weight from home while organizing your gear!
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