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    Default How to hike and maintain social distance (non-thruhiking oriented)

    So it seems that thru hiking may be out this year. A good way to hike and avoid contact with other people is to drive to your hiking destination, then do a 4-7 day loop, or out and back. This way you can still hike, and literally have no contact with anyone. If you happen across someone on the trail give them a wide berth when passing. If you want to hang out with another hiker simply try and maintain a six food radius. At the very least try not to sneeze and cough on one another. This is a weird virus where plenty of people are infected without experiencing any symptoms. At the same time, some people seem to have a very poor outcome. There is no way to know which one you may be. Don't assume just because you are young and healthy that you are invulnerable. The goal is to slow the spread, and avoid overwhelming our underwhelming medical system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch! View Post
    So it seems that thru hiking may be out this year. A good way to hike and avoid contact with other people is to drive to your hiking destination, then do a 4-7 day loop, or out and back. This way you can still hike, and literally have no contact with anyone. If you happen across someone on the trail give them a wide berth when passing. If you want to hang out with another hiker simply try and maintain a six food radius. At the very least try not to sneeze and cough on one another. This is a weird virus where plenty of people are infected without experiencing any symptoms. At the same time, some people seem to have a very poor outcome. There is no way to know which one you may be. Don't assume just because you are young and healthy that you are invulnerable. The goal is to slow the spread, and avoid overwhelming our underwhelming medical system.
    Droplets from a sneeze or cough can travel well over 20 feet and stay in the air for up to 10 minutes. Give a very wide berth if you really need to go out. But you might still walk into a cloud of snot if some you just passed sneezed a couple minutes earlier on the trail. As someone said in regards to a different post, you’d be using up valuable resources if you get hurt out there.
    Scientists are only beginning to understand this complex, extremely fast spreading virus, don’t be fooled by the relative low death rates for now.

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Yeah, I pulled myself off the PCT after just 7 days and a little over 100 miles.... :-( Because of the need to use town facilities on long hikes, it's just not smart to stick with a thru hike, especially at my age.

    BUT, now my wife's work has closed for three weeks (mostly because all the morons running around with the much needed N95 medical masks) and we plan a couple of car-camping trips with a lot of long hikes, mostly out in the middle of nowhere in Utah, I'd be surprised if we see any people. We're going to be completely self-sufficient and should not have to use any facilities, nor make any food purchases. The only contact we should have is when buying gas, very infrequent because we have a nearly 700 mile range on our truck, and of course gas is all pay at the pump anyway (and we'll use gloves and hand sanitizer, for sure), so no contact there either.

    Maybe I'm being naiive, but I really think it's perfectly safe to camp and hike right now even with occasionally seeing some other folks, just avoiding any physical contact and keeping that reasonable radius.

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Yeah, I pulled myself off the PCT after just 7 days and a little over 100 miles.... :-( Because of the need to use town facilities on long hikes, it's just not smart to stick with a thru hike, especially at my age.

    BUT, now my wife's work has closed for three weeks (mostly because all the morons running around with the much needed N95 medical masks) and we plan a couple of car-camping trips with a lot of long hikes, mostly out in the middle of nowhere in Utah, I'd be surprised if we see any people. We're going to be completely self-sufficient and should not have to use any facilities, nor make any food purchases. The only contact we should have is when buying gas, very infrequent because we have a nearly 700 mile range on our truck, and of course gas is all pay at the pump anyway (and we'll use gloves and hand sanitizer, for sure), so no contact there either.

    Maybe I'm being naiive, but I really think it's perfectly safe to camp and hike right now even with occasionally seeing some other folks, just avoiding any physical contact and keeping that reasonable radius.
    Iím in agreement. I wish I could be with you two Ö respectfully far behind Ö


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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Yeah, I pulled myself off the PCT after just 7 days and a little over 100 miles.... :-( Because of the need to use town facilities on long hikes, it's just not smart to stick with a thru hike, especially at my age.

    BUT, now my wife's work has closed for three weeks (mostly because all the morons running around with the much needed N95 medical masks) and we plan a couple of car-camping trips with a lot of long hikes, mostly out in the middle of nowhere in Utah, I'd be surprised if we see any people. We're going to be completely self-sufficient and should not have to use any facilities, nor make any food purchases. The only contact we should have is when buying gas, very infrequent because we have a nearly 700 mile range on our truck, and of course gas is all pay at the pump anyway (and we'll use gloves and hand sanitizer, for sure), so no contact there either.

    Maybe I'm being naiive, but I really think it's perfectly safe to camp and hike right now even with occasionally seeing some other folks, just avoiding any physical contact and keeping that reasonable radius.
    The goal is simply to minimize contact as much as possible. Some people still have to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, etc. Plenty of people can't work from home.

    Hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities are fine as long as you take steps to minimize close contact with other people. Exercise is very important to maximize immune system function. If you have a friend who can help support you while hiking, that is a big bonus. You could have this friend meet you at various points while hiking for resupply. You wouldn't need to have close personal contact to receive a resupply. Then you could go right back to hiking.

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch! View Post
    The goal is simply to minimize contact as much as possible. Some people still have to go to the grocery store, pharmacy, etc. Plenty of people can't work from home.

    Hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities are fine as long as you take steps to minimize close contact with other people. Exercise is very important to maximize immune system function. If you have a friend who can help support you while hiking, that is a big bonus. You could have this friend meet you at various points while hiking for resupply. You wouldn't need to have close personal contact to receive a resupply. Then you could go right back to hiking.
    Yeah, I do suppose one could reasonably still do a long hike if he/she had direct support. Still, he/she would probably want an occasional actual shower/hotel/hostel, and to do some laundry I would think. It would be tough to do a long hike w/o ANY town support, but it is feasible, especially in the summer (lots of swimming to get clean).

    Another option if hiking with another (friend, spouse, whatever) is to do a leap-frog resupply hike with two vehicles. My wife and I did the CO trail this way, it worked really well, it would completely eliminate the need for any outside interaction whatsoever, assuming you're willing to only clean yourself and clothes in the wild.

    In case you've never heard of the leap-frog method, basically you drive two cars to the far end of the trail, take one car back to the beginning of a 4-5 day section (or whatever time works), hike to the end of the trail, get the one vehicle, drive back two sections, hike to the other vehicle, drive back another two sections, repeat, repeat. Load both vehicles with all resupplies needed, then hike away. This method would even work hiking solo, as long as you had a pal help you out at the start (and end) with your 2nd car.

    I met a guy "pringles" on the AT doing the entire trail this way (solo). I saw him every day for a week or so, always hiking southbound, though he (and I) were making our way northbound, if you follow all of that. He was called "pringles" because he always carried a couple cans of these horrible, yet wonderful "chips" and passed them out to the northbounders.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Yeah, I do suppose one could reasonably still do a long hike if he/she had direct support. Still, he/she would probably want an occasional actual shower/hotel/hostel, and to do some laundry I would think. It would be tough to do a long hike w/o ANY town support, but it is feasible, especially in the summer (lots of swimming to get clean).

    Another option if hiking with another (friend, spouse, whatever) is to do a leap-frog resupply hike with two vehicles. My wife and I did the CO trail this way, it worked really well, it would completely eliminate the need for any outside interaction whatsoever, assuming you're willing to only clean yourself and clothes in the wild.

    In case you've never heard of the leap-frog method, basically you drive two cars to the far end of the trail, take one car back to the beginning of a 4-5 day section (or whatever time works), hike to the end of the trail, get the one vehicle, drive back two sections, hike to the other vehicle, drive back another two sections, repeat, repeat. Load both vehicles with all resupplies needed, then hike away. This method would even work hiking solo, as long as you had a pal help you out at the start (and end) with your 2nd car.

    I met a guy "pringles" on the AT doing the entire trail this way (solo). I saw him every day for a week or so, always hiking southbound, though he (and I) were making our way northbound, if you follow all of that. He was called "pringles" because he always carried a couple cans of these horrible, yet wonderful "chips" and passed them out to the northbounders.
    It's funny that you mentioned it. I've often thought about the leap frog method. I've yet to actually try it, however. Two people with cars who hike at a similar pace could hike the whole PCT using the leap frog method, and never have to closely interact. One person would have to be cool with going SOBO however.

    I live in Washington, so I'm never more than a few hours from home. I also have a portable heater shower which works great for car camping.

    An option for getting or giving rides is to ride in the back of a covered pickup. It might not be safe or legal in some areas but it precludes any close contact.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch! View Post
    It's funny that you mentioned it. I've often thought about the leap frog method. I've yet to actually try it, however. Two people with cars who hike at a similar pace could hike the whole PCT using the leap frog method, and never have to closely interact. One person would have to be cool with going SOBO however.
    I dind't explain the leap-frog method well, because actually, both hikers are together, though they don't have to actually hike together or even camp together, going the same direction, the only requirement is that they meet at the end of each section at a car. This isn't any sort of key-exchange thing.

    I've tried before to explain this to others, not many seem to get it because I'm bad at the explanation....

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    It makes sense. You're just handling moving a car up to the end each morning and heading back in one to the trailhead?

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    Quote Originally Posted by CalebJ View Post
    It makes sense. You're just handling moving a car up to the end each morning and heading back in one to the trailhead?
    Here's the leap-frog method I'm referring to in detail...

    Say you have a trail, like the CO trail, and you break the trail into 8 segments of 4 days each. Segment 1 is the start, 8 the finish. There is parking at each of the segments start/end.

    You and partner drive one car each to the end of the trail, the end of section 8. Leave one car there.

    Both of you pile into other car, and drive to the section 7/8 junction, when you start hiking section 8, say for 4 days, ending at the end of the trail, where there is one car parked (and resupplies).

    You both hop into that car and drive it to the section 6/7 junction trailhead. Leave that car and now hike section 7 for 4 days, ending at the other car parked at the section 7/8 junction.

    Hop in that car and drive to the section 5/6 junction, hike 4 days on section 6 to the car at the section 6/7 junction.

    Repeat until you're done.

    This is almost precisely to the letter how we hiked the CO trail, the sections were such that 4 days was just about right, but it can be applied to any long trail with regular road access. On the AT, this means in many places your "section" can be only one day, give all the many road crossings.

    Advantages: no need to hitch, at the end of a section you have a car to get into town for R&R, laundry, whatever. Resupplies pre-loaded into vehicles, no mailing, no town shopping. And a bonus, both of our vehicles are set up to sleep in, which saved on hotel/hostel costs.

    Disadvantages: Even though your hiking in one direction, in our case hiking south, you make your way north, if you follow. So, you make hiking friends on one section, then you leave them because the next section you hike is the previous section. so all your trail pals are short-term.

  11. #11

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    Makes sense. I definitely like that idea.

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    One person can do it as well. Pickup with a motor bike would work. The year I started my first section of the PCT there was a guy doing this.
    Lonehiker

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    I dind't explain the leap-frog method well, because actually, both hikers are together, though they don't have to actually hike together or even camp together, going the same direction, the only requirement is that they meet at the end of each section at a car. This isn't any sort of key-exchange thing.

    I've tried before to explain this to others, not many seem to get it because I'm bad at the explanation....
    No, I got it. I just like the idea of each person hiking separate directions better. I wouldn't want to exchange keys. Rather, I'd prefer each person had keys for both vehicles to start. It would be an interesting logistical challenge.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sasquatch! View Post
    No, I got it. I just like the idea of each person hiking separate directions better. I wouldn't want to exchange keys. Rather, I'd prefer each person had keys for both vehicles to start. It would be an interesting logistical challenge.
    I have used this approach a few times, first hiker is dropped off at a trailhead to hike north, second hiker drives to the next (or predetermined) trailhead up the trail and hikes south, exchanging keys where they meet along the way. The first time I did this, I missed the southbound hiker due to his unmarked call of nature at the perfect time for me to miss him, which created some problems. I recommend a second set of keys or stashing the keys in a magnetic box somewhere on the vehicle for this type of hike, all things considered.

    If two people enjoy hiking alone, this method gives both an opportunity to do that while expanding hike selections and distances that can be hiked during a day or multi-day trip.

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    Itís impossible to give people a wide berth on most of the trails in my area. Today, the trails were very crowded and the nature of the trail is such that all one can do is step to the side. I must have come within 1-2í of 15 people.

    Wearing a bandana around the neck that you pull over your mouth and nose might be a viable option when passing people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    It’s impossible to give people a wide berth on most of the trails in my area. Today, the trails were very crowded and the nature of the trail is such that all one can do is step to the side. I must have come within 1-2’ of 15 people.

    Wearing a bandana around the neck that you pull over your mouth and nose might be a viable option when passing people.
    Or a buff and sunglasses

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    Having just come off the trail, I can tell you that its not crowded at all. The only place I camped that was cro6'wded was Hauser Creek on the first night. Even then, it was easy to keep my distance from the other hikers. Someone started up a Yoga stretching session and even then there was more than 6 feet between people. Passing one another within 1-2' of others on the trail is not a big deal. You pass each other facing your face away and turn around 6' apart if you want to say hello. If your not touching and have your mouths and nosed turned away as you pass, the risk is as low as standing 6' apart.

    I like the two vehicle approach as well as the start from opposite ends approach. Either would be good strategies.

    Grocery stores are still open so it wouldn't hard to continue a thru hike, but the biggest challenge right now would be keeping electronics charged. There is no place out there that will allow you to plug in and solar panels are not very effective in the rain and overcast. Using shuttle vehicles would solve that issue.
    Last edited by Nanatuk; 03-30-2020 at 18:30.

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    The trails aren’t crowded because the majority of us are staying home like we were asked to do. The people risking their lives right now to keep the grocery stores open are there so we can still feed ourselves and our families. The less people that have to go through the check out line equates to less risk for them. They’re not there for hikers to continuing their thru-hikes.

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    How does serving hikers increase the risk to the grocery clerks more than say someone who drives to the store? If your weren't on the trail you would still need to buy groceries from somewhere. Or are you saying that the thru hikers should get off the trail to transfer the risk to a store that isn't near the trail?

    I don't understand the logic.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanatuk View Post
    How does serving hikers increase the risk to the grocery clerks more than say someone who drives to the store? If your weren't on the trail you would still need to buy groceries from somewhere. Or are you saying that the thru hikers should get off the trail to transfer the risk to a store that isn't near the trail?

    I don't understand the logic.
    The person at home has a fridge, freezer, and pantry and won't need to resupply as often. The hiker may also need transportation into town, putting the hiker and the driver at increased risk as opposed to using their own personal vehicle at home (That's not always the case.)

    We are covering these thruhiker topics in the other thread "The Ethics of Thru-Hiking During the COVID-19 Pandemic"

    This thread was started as not being about thruhiking so let's keep it that way. I am going to move it out of the PCT forum and modify the title.
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