Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect as I had planned, prepped and then travelled through 8 Eastern States, hiking, bikepacking, backcountry and car camping.for the month of June.
I anticipated some of what I experienced, was surprised by some things and saddened by others. Each State handled a variety of things differently.
Some say that I fly by the seat of my pants…I tag myself “Flexibly Spontaneous.” Some States had their state park websites “down” so last minute online reservations were not an option. Though I did find most 800 reservation lines very helpful. On too many occasions campgrounds were booked solid…or I secured the last available (read: undesirable) campsite…or as in two States, campgrounds had just opened the day before or the day I showed up on the doorstep. I was not prepared for that possibility or probability.
I was surprised by the “covering” or “removal” (albeit likely temporary) of water sources (common area spigots and drinking fountains). That wasn’t the case on the GAP Trail or on the Greenbrier River Trail, but it was at State Parks. A minor inconvenience and still workable.
What saddened me was the economic fallout. Trail towns severely hit, storefront and restaurants closed…with far too many forever shuttered and lost…people’s livelihoods shattered and hurting.
But I will end on a positive. Twenty five straight days of Backpacking, bikepacking, hiking and camping still stirred and replenished my heart, soul and mind. I still was blessed by meeting wonderful people enjoying the same. I was infinitely encouraged in seeing a huge segment of people much older than myself out there logging nature miles (and I long to return to my younger, fitter and stronger 50’s).
Perhaps “flexible spontaneity” isn’t your style, no worries…you can still find places to camp, home and enjoy nature…it just may take greater creativity with a smidge of flexibility.
What have you experienced thus far?
I’ve been keeping all my camping outings to backpacking to avoid crowds, which has worked well for me. The sites I have gone to do not require registration. Luckily my water sources are rivers and creeks (filtered) that are still flowing!
I try to start day hikes earlier in the morning for the same reason. I have a mask in my pocket but I don’t wear it hiking – it is more if I have to stop by a store or something on the way.
That being said, there are still crowds and complete disregard for social distancing at some of the state parks I’ve been to – especially the “beach” areas. I am happy people love our state parks but some cases seem like needlessly reckless recreation to me. I hope we can find a better balance of getting out in nature but recreating responsibly due to covid concerns. I know it is hard though, as the most accessible trails tend to be the most crowded and difficult to “distance” on.
Agreed about trail towns and the small businesses struggling though this time.
I too have been exclusively backpacking, but that’ what I would be doing with or without a pandemic.
Even in Oregon, which has done a pretty good job of taking COVID seriously, people seem to forget about social distancing as soon as they hit the trail. Luckily I tent to walk a little farther into the woods than most so I can get away from crowds.
Flexible Spontaneity is a great phrase and kind of my favorite way to live life haha. We’re on the same page Dave
We stopped camping during the first part of the quarantine. Local restrictions didn’t allow us to leave the area around Tucson. Recently, those restrictions were lifted and we are allowed to travel throughout the state of Arizona.
It was so refreshing being able to spend the last few weekends in the mountains and out of the heat.
In AZ, all of the tribal lands are closed due to COVID. It hasn’t impacted us too much, but it is definitely impacting people who want passes onto reservation land (Havasu/antelope canyon).
Several sites in the National Forests have closed their vault toilets and National Parks have kept their visitor centers closed. We like to disperse camp, so it hasn’t really been an issue for us.
We have noticed a significant increase in visitors to campgrounds.
Good for you…I’m a beginner and not quite that brave yet but working on it. I was planning on a trip to Montana from Oregon…compared to what you accomplished no big deal but as the virus numbers increase I canceled plans. Part of reason was one of my goals was to visit several friends and family. If I was going to be by myself it wouldn’t have been as big a deal.
We have camped three times and hiked a bunch since COVID started. Wearing a mask on crowded trails is a must and we try to avoid touching high touch areas. Camping can be tricky especially with restrooms and the shower. We bring Lysol and wipes to make sure we clean before using. Overall just being mindful of social distancing and keeping this sanitized makes for a good trip.
I understand you. I also had a lot of trips planned. I planned to fly to 5 countries this year. Now I’m afraid to leave the house. Every day there are more and more cases when people die. I think that if you constantly sit at home, you can go crazy. I try to leave the house very rarely. If I still go out of the house, I always take the N95 mask and antiseptic with me. Every month I order a lot of N95 masks on https://pandemicpal.net/n95-masks-coronavirus-covid-19/. I think that I will be able to start traveling not earlier than in 3 years.