GetHiking! is back!
Over the past couple of weeks, our GetHiking! groups in North Carolina and Virginia have resumed group hikes — group hikes that look a little different than they did the beginning of the year.
“As stay-at-home orders started to relax some in the past few weeks, we have started posting some hikes again,” says Pepper Ernest, hike leader for GetHiking! Charlottesville. “I led my first hike (very small group) today and several other hike leaders have posted and led hikes over the past week.”
GH Charlottesville’s first hike since March, an 11.7-mile hike in the George Washington National Forest on May 31, was indeed small: 3 people, including the hike leader. A hike that afternoon along the Rivanna River in Charlottesville was capped at 8 hikers.
Small hikes have been the rule, with social distancing — maintaining a 6-foot minimum distance between hikers — the rule. Pepper says the group’s initial hikes have been capped at 4, soon to increase to 8. Beyond that, he adds, “We’ll see how the first few weeks go and adjust as needed.”
GetHiking Triangle has conducted three closed hikes to get a feel for how hiking with slightly larger groups will work. If the group is more than 10 people (North Carolina’s current Safer-at-Home regulations limit outdoor group gatherings to no more than 25), it will be split into two groups, with faster hikers getting about a 5-minute head start. Hikers have been required to wear a face mask when gathering at the trailhead, and keep it handy should they encounter other hikers on the trail.
Based on those three hikes, GetHiking! Triangle has posted its first “open” hike, a 7-mile Sunday morning escape at Eno River State Park on Sunday morning, June 28. It is limited to 10 hikers.
Likewise, GetHiking! Triad will hold its first post shelter-in-place hike on Wednesday, July 8, at the new Cane Creek Mountains Natural Area in Alamance County. The area, with 3.5 miles of hiking trail, opened May 22 and is only open for hiking by reservation at this point. Hike size is restricted to 10 as a result.
Additional hikes and adventures will be scheduled in the coming weeks. GetHiking! currently has 17,230 members in five North Carolina chapters and two Virginia chapters.
Part of our decision to begin offering more hikes is based on the generally positive results we’ve seen on these initial hikes. We’re also encouraged by growing evidence that the outdoors is one of the safest places to be in terms of avoiding the virus. Safe, provided you observe some simple rules for safe hiking:
- Maintain a minimum distance of 6 feet from fellow hikers
- Wear a mask or other face covering at the trailhead. Once on the trail, take it off and keep it handy should you encounter other hikers on the trail.
- If you encounter other hikers on the trail, especially on traditional narrow single-track trail, don your mask if you have it handy and/or step off the trail, when possible, and give the other hiker wide berth.
- Do not share water or snacks.
We’re glad to be back. We look forward to hiking with you again.
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