Keep away from people. That is one of the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect you from Covid-19. What better way to avoid people than to get outdoors where there are few people?
The CDC website doesn’t offer specific advice on outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Personnel with the Wyoming Department of Health also offered no specific information on such activities and there are no recommendations on their website.
David Wiens, executive director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, offered advice in a press release for the IMBA organization. He acknowledged that getting out on trails is tremendously valuable. The key, though, is to keep your distance and avoid going out altogether if you’re feeling ill. Wiens advises against group rides but, instead riding only in very small groups.
“Keep your distance from other recreationists,” he said. “It also helps to enjoy trails close to home to minimize the risks associated with car travel.”
There are numerous trail opportunities in and near Cheyenne. Glendo and Curt Gowdy State Parks offer miles of trails. Opportunities also abound on National Forest lands on both Pole Mountain and the Snowy Range. Although weather conditions can dictate mode, there are opportunities for hiking, biking, snowshoeing and skiing.
No matter the mode, if you see others and need to pass, communicate from a distance about how to proceed. To keep the minimum six feet of separation one person may need to move off the trail to let the other pass.
Paul Gritten, non-motorized trail coordinator with Wyoming State Parks, said getting outside can be extremely therapeutic in these troubling times.
“With so much doom and gloom in the news, getting out and being physically active can truly help reduce stress,” Gritten said. “It offers a change to get your mind off of what is going on, and just enjoy being outdoors.”
Even when there’s snow in the forecast, the opportunity may arise for an ardent snowball fight, if not a trek to the mountains to go snowshoeing. With kids being cooped up and restless, even short activities outdoors can be helpful. In addition, aside from a few bucks for entry or parking fees, most outdoor activities are free.
The latest data with the novel coronavirus is that it does not last very long on objects outside because of exposure to sunlight. However, there could be a problem if someone coughs into their hand and then immediately touches an object and then another person touches that object immediately after them.
With that in mind, playgrounds in parks are getting mixed reviews. The CDC offers no current guidance on how to manage these spaces. Keeping children at safe distances from each other can be challenging, so one recommendation is to go only with family to avoid contact with others.
There is no question this is a fluid and evolving situation. Keep alert to any additional advice from the CDC on outdoor recreation precautions. Based on current guidelines, getting outside is safe if there are no other humans around. If on a trail or pathway where others are also enjoying the outdoors, just communicate from a distance to ensure that six feet of separation is maintained.