The Trail Will Wait: Do Your Part and Stay Home
Hiking is off the table for now. I’ll wait, and maybe if things calm down by June I will try to hike from Tuolomne Meadows to Canada. That’s all that’s left from my 2018 attempt after all. If I have to, I’ll wait longer and maybe I could hike a shorter trail instead. I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know what world we live in right now. I know I can’t risk being a vector carrying this illness to small remote trail towns. The trail will wait.
How Could This Happen?
I vaguely knew what was happening in China two months ago, and I knew there was one case in the town where I live, but it didn’t feel like a big deal. As things spread, I took precautions, but even so everything exploded.
They announced the travel ban from Europe, and I faced the probability of being separated from my partner. Suddenly this crisis became real and personal for me. Even then, I still wanted to go to Germany. I didn’t know how crazy this was going to get, but if I had, I would have wanted to be in Germany even more so. I can’t help but wish I got to ride out these crazy times with my partner. My decision was made for me; the EU is no longer allowing us foreign people into their borders. My flight would have been on March 29.
At first I comforted myself with the fact that I could still hike at least. “Hiking is great for social distancing,” I thought, just as so many others did. Internal travel bans were discussed, and I came up with contingency plan upon contingency plan. If I couldn’t fly from Seattle to San Diego, maybe I could take a train or a bus. If I couldn’t do that, maybe someone could drive me to Portland and I could fly or take a train from there! Or maybe I could rent a car and drive all the way to San Diego. If cars weren’t allowed across the state border maybe I’d take a bus to Walla Walla, Washington, where I didn’t need a bridge to cross into Oregon and walk across somewhere unmonitored!!
As things have gotten more clearly serious, I realized that any of my wild contingency plans would have been irresponsible, even unethical. I don’t want to risk spreading this thing. Far from responding in too draconian a manner, our government hasn’t responded quickly or drastically enough.
Inyo County asked hikers to stay home, and that was my tipping point. I realized exactly how much risk the normal hiking bubble posed for these tiny remote communities, and now the PCTA has officially asked hikers to stay home as well. California is under total lockdown. Even a lot of people on that “Still hiking the PCT 2020” Facebook page have realized it’s time to throw in the towel.
Hiking is how I cope, so this is devastating, but staying home is the right thing to do now. I’m taking day hikes while I can, but not on proper trails. I figure logging roads are safer because I’m less likely to encounter somebody else, and even if I do, the road is wide enough for us to pass each other with six feet in between us.
I don’t know exactly what’s coming, but I’m reading about what’s happening in Italy, and what did happen in China. It’s like standing on a beach watching the ocean roar away from you, knowing that means a tsunami is on its way. There’s nothing I can do to stop it, we just all have to scramble to get out of its way as best we can, and wait for the devastation. And most of all, prepare to help each other survive this.
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