• Alyssa Lee

The New Normal: 5 Tips for Easing into the Outdoors During COVID-19

Things have changed and the repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic in Canada will change the way we view, treat, and explore the world around us indefinitely. Here's what to expect if you plan on returning to your favourite trails.

BCParks posts advisory signage at the entrance of provincial parks to remind visitors of the COVID-19 safety regulations

The Coronavirus Pandemic has shaken up the lives of everyone around the world harder than anyone has ever shaken a polaroid picture.


Now, if you are like us, you have been itching to get back on the trails or check out those instragrammable viewpoints that your outdoorsy friends recommended last summer. So thankfully with restrictions being lifted phase by phase across Canada, we will slowly be able to enjoy the outdoors, but it will look a bit different than you remembered. Ford states:

“With warmer weather beginning, individuals and families will now be able to enjoy many outdoor amenities, but everyone must continue to maintain physical distancing from those outside of their household.”


1. Check the ProvincialParks site to ensure that it's open for business

The worst thing is when you drive hours to a trailhead and realize that the park or trail is still closed! If you can't find the information at the BCParks or OntarioParks, etc. Website, check trail guide databases like AllTrails, Trailforks,or OutdoorVancouver (for BC residents) to see if others have recently posted reviews for that trail with updates.


2. For the time being, know your limits, and play within it

With the majority of recreational activities still on pause, and all this free time now at home, it may seem like the perfect time to finally go on that 7-day backcountry backpacking trip and just forget about this pandemic. Right?

Wrong!


Coronavirus is still a battle across the country, and while it may seem Canada has "flattened the curve" right now, the last thing we want is for you to push too far beyond your boundaries, get injured or lost, end up having to call search and rescue, catch an expensive ride to the nearest hospital, and stress out our front line workers. This is not us saying don't explore, but just do so responsibly and well below your maximum.


3. Prepare for 1-way hiking trails and plan accordingly

Drawing from personal experience, if you plan on going trail running around any sort of lake or loop trail, prepare for the fact that it may be a mandatory 1-way trail because of physical distancing regulations; meaning you have no option but to do the whole dang thing.


I recently decided to go on a quick run right before work at Bunzten Lake in Anmore, BC. I wasn't paying attention, and it wasn't until I got to the other side of the lake, I realize I couldn't just go back the same way as I usually did. With no other choice but the complete the full loop, my 4.5 km trail run, quickly become a 10km and also left me arriving late to my shift. So, if it's a long one, pack some extra food and water, while leaving some buffer time for your meetings.


4. Do your part: maintain trail etiquettes

The 2-3+ months of park closures during the peak of the pandemic means that trails were not maintained as frequently, and it will remain this way indefinitely. This means respecting the trails is more important than ever. Be extra careful to pack up all your garbage especially kleenex or anything that can transmit the virus. Additionally, stay on the marked route to ensure that surrounding vegetation is not disturbed and everyone can enjoy the trails!

5. Follow health regulations

Similar to how you are not advised to sit at a coffee shop for a long period of time, chatting with your friends during times like this, it applies to your experience in the outdoors. Here are some helpful reminders.

  • If you need pictures, to avoid device contact, maybe ask others to take pictures and send them via mobile instead of passing around your phone.

  • Avoid high traffic areas, and minimize conversations with other groups #sad

  • Maintain minimum 2m between groups and allow others to pass if that's not possible

  • Bring hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and make sure to stay home if you're not feeling good!

I'll see you all out on the trails!

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