by Brian Zig April 10, 2020 4 min read


Should I Go Hiking During a Stay at Home Order?

Over ninety-five percent of Americans are on a “Stay at Home” order by their local government. Creating a struggle with the ethical dilemma of getting some fresh air. Our world is surviving hard times, we have been told that doing our individual part in social distancing can reduce the spread of this current pandemic. 

After we have cleaned out the attic and completed that home improvement project you've been putting off for years, we all may need some outdoor therapy. Researching ways to get outside while a country is in lockdown has proved to be more difficult than hopping in the car and driving to the local trailhead. The choices we make to practice responsible social distancing could save a life.

Friends of mine have taken to Facebook trying to understand where they can clear their mental space in the outdoors. Posing the question, should I go hiking during a worldwide lockdown?

Ski resorts are shut down, beaches are closed and the gates at local state park entrances are locked, this has many people are scrambling to breathe some fresh air. Many of us use outdoor exercise as a primary escape from the stressors of life.

Facing an Ethical Dilemma

The urge to hit the trail has never been this enticing. Being socially responsible is something that you pride yourself in. Public officials urging everyone to stay close to home has made being socially responsible more difficult than normal. 

The mind may scramble for places to go, you remember the city parks were wrapped in caution tape and the only place that seems open are the grocery stores or restaurants for takeout. “I am not going for another scenic cruise to the store” you say to yourself as you lace up your shoes to head out the door.

The decision has been made to get some fresh air in nature, but where should you go? How far should you social distance yourself? 

It is vital during this time to choose an activity that is deemed safe and fully within your expertise. This is not the time to pick up dangerous activities such as mountain biking or backcountry skiing. It is your responsibility to be your own first responder, pretend that going to the hospital for an unexpected emergency is not an option! 

Eat the Biscuit - Do Not Risk It!

The public health order to stay inside has family members cooking some delicious meals, a breakfast sandwich on a homemade biscuit - what am I going to do with all this calorie fuel?!

My mind tends to wander to the distant mountain peaks after a hearty breakfast, sipping on a second cup of coffee. Daydreams ensue, as I can not help my headspace from placing me on the far off summit getting ready to ride my snowboard back to the valley floor. This thought has set off a risk assessment alarm that recently started with this influenza pandemic.

This would be a normal healthy thought but I have found the need to dial back my recreation pursuits. Creating a system for this dilemma of getting outside has become apparent. Obviously if you feel sick, have a cough, please stay home until you are well. Everyone else that feels the need to leave their home we created some moral choices to consider.

Choosing the Right Path

This is my personal opinion, mental health falls in my list of essential activities. Consuming calories requires burning calories, thus I made the choice to get outside in a responsible manner. 

Three moral choices to consider when hiking during a statewide stay at home order:

Be your ownfirst responder:First and foremost, you can not get seriously hurt! This is the most important risk to consider when choosing a place to get outside. This is not the time to push it. The National Forest Service has announced closures in Washington, Colorado and other states, check here for recent updates from NFS. 

Closures of vast wildernesses, like Mt. Baker National Forest and San Juan National Forest, is a wakeup call to the mountain community. Mountain Rescue personnel are also the first responders on the front lines fighting this virus. Make decisions like no one is coming for you upon getting injured or lost.

Stay close to home. Traveling far distances, especially from metropolitan areas to remote areas, can continue the spread of this pandemic. Try to brainstorm places that are local, it is even better to not get in the car. Walking the dog around the block, taking a bike ride or going for a jog are all examples of safe ways to “take a hike.”

Walk away from people.The major concern with hiking on a trail is the close contact with other participants. To practice safe social distancing choose a place you know will not be crowded. Wide open areas are highly recommended, country roads have been my go to for sunset strolls. Appreciate the opportunity to get outside in the outdoors, feel the sun on your face, the wind in your hair and know this will all be over soon!

What are your favorite places to get away from it all?

Summary: Should I Go Hiking During a Stay at Home Order?
-Understand the ethical dilemma
-Acknowledge the risk assessment
-Make moral choices, be your own first responder


Brian Zig - Trayvax Content Creator
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