By Cheryl Hill, Board Member, Trailkeepers of Oregon After a week of sitting inside at my desk job I need time out on the trail. I hike for fresh air, hearing birds sing, smelling the forest, viewing sweeping…
With recent closures of all Oregon State Parks, the Columbia Gorge Waterfall Corridor and Governor Brown’s Stay Home order, TKO recognizes we are navigating challenges we have never seen before. We support the land managers who have had to make these difficult decisions to protect staff, volunteers and visitors and the communities within these special places and accordingly, we will be postponing all our in-person volunteer activities through April.
Whenever stress hits us our first thoughts are often, “I could use a walk and some time in nature!” As we all learned phrases like “flattening the curve” and “social distancing,” we thought we would consider a simple question which is turning out to be a complicated answer: Is it safe to get out on the trails these days?
At first the answer was yes — if you do it right. Our original intent this week was to share this list of basic tips to follow when hiking right now.
For now it’s NO — We want to go hiking as much as you do but now is not the time. Stay home, you may not realize the impacts that are possible. Our Oregon scenic sites will be there for you when it is safe to get back to them.
While hiking is certainly one of the safest ways to enjoy the outdoors, the risk of a misstep leading to a broken ankle, a wrong turn leading to getting lost, or getting into a car accident on the way to the trailhead are still that – risks. Risks that take up hospital beds and valuable resources from first responders, even in populated areas like Portland
In addition to a lack of medical services, rural communities are also facing potential shortages of other essentials like food. While we always encourage supporting local economies when recreating, for now we are recommending that you stay home and leave those supplies for the people who live there.
Meanwhile, we will be supporting our community however we can. Read on for some of our recommendations on how to stay in touch with your outdoorsy side while staying inside!
Remember when you were a kid and could spend hours playing in one patch of dirt in your backyard? Let’s try and reconnect to that capacity for small wonders.
- If you are lucky enough to have a backyard, spend some time in it. Watch what kind of birds or other critters visit and start a nature journal to log and learn about who you meet.
- Those of us with apartment windows can certainly do the same. Try setting up a makeshift bird feeder and see who shows up for dinner!
- If you have young kids, let their curiosity and little legs set the pace. You’d be amazed at all the small wonders they can point out to you on one slow meander around the block.
- Challenge yourself to take a full 10-15 minutes to walk around your block, let your eyes explore, take photos, make notes, look up all the different plants and find out if they’re native or not, be inspired!
Most of us are now faced with a lot more indoor time than we’re used to, so here are some ideas to pass the time:
- Click here for our Outdoor Lovers Indoor Survival Guide of outdoorsy books, nature documentaries, activities for kids and other ideas — brought to you by TKO volunteers and staff. You can add your own ideas too!
- Use the Oregon Hikers Field Guide to inspire and plan future trips; they really will happen someday!
- Organize, clean, and check all your hiking and camping gear.
- Clean and sharpen your trail tools.
- Learn to dry food for future hiking snacks
Keep Up With The Latest
Here are some links to keep up with the latest in the world of hiking and trails:
Remember, We Are All In This Together!