Outdoor COV-Etiquette: 5 Tips to Stay Safe Outside in the Time of Coronavirus

Thea Dodds
Water. Food. Layers. Mask?  Getting outside used to be a whole lot simpler. That simplicity is often what drives many of us to New Hampshire’s lakes, rivers, and mountains.  Green space is proven to aid in mental and physical health.  With much of the world closed, more people than ever are flocking to our (previously secluded) trails.
Back in March, our popular local climbing crag, Rumney Rocks, was closed. This week, the White Mountain National Forest closed a number of trailheads after a surge of increased traffic.  These closures are in support of the betterment of humankind, and Holderness can sure get behind that.  We are also lucky to live in an area with many trails still open and accessible.  So in this new normal, here are 5 tips to help us all stay safe outside.

1. Obey all closures. Is the parking area closed or is the entire area closed? These closures are varied and can be confusing.  Check your local ranger station or Forest Service website for the details of any closures near you.

2. Stay local and think wide.  There's plenty of adventure close to home, and now's not the time to try a new route or bag a new peak. Not only do we need trails that are open and close-by -- you don’t really want to be on a knife-edge trail and have to pass someone right now.  Pick a trail where you easily give any passing travelers lots of space.

3. Avoid peak days/times. Most of us will agree that getting outside is essential. But if we abuse it, we might lose it. Trails are only closed as a last resort when we consistently exceed an area’s capacity. So let’s all work together and when possible avoid those the times we know are going to be busy.

4. Yield to everyone.  During normal times we yield to uphill hikers and we never step off the trail, but right now we all need to stop and figure out a way to move by each other while maintaining at least 6 feet of space. If it means you have to step off the trail, do it.

5. Only adventure with household members. The safest way to travel by trail right now is with the people you love (at least you did before quarantine) the most.

We know, no one likes this. None of us are choosing this. The reality is, there is an inherent risk in the wilderness and if someone gets hurt or if something unpredictable happens, maintaining social distance will become impossible. None of us want to endanger our dedicated first responders, including many Holderness staff and faculty who volunteer for local search and rescue. 

Now, shut down this computer and get outside, safely.

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Holderness School
33 Chapel Lane, Holderness, NH 03245
mail P.O Box 1879 Plymouth, NH 03264-1879
phone (603) 536-1257