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Still Open

By Mike Boisvert.

With everything shutting down, the outdoors is still open! There’s nothing healthier than getting away from the crowds, getting outside for some fresh air, and take in nature’s natural beauty. Getting outside and connecting with nature is a way to help maintain our mental and physical health.

We recognize that even with all our efforts to minimize your risk of exposure, group experiences inherently increase the risk of contracting COVID-19. GO will continue to uphold the well-being of our entire extended community as the top priority while we look for safe ways to advance our mission. OUR HIKES ARE LIMITED TO TEN MEMBERS. As the pandemic continues to evolve, we’ll update our policies and procedures accordingly, always under the expectation that trips will need to be adapted to changing health and safety protocols.

Thinking how important it is to have a hiking group like ours, especially at a time like this. With restaurants, bars, cafes, churches, and gyms all closed, it’s a challenge to retain some semblance of a social life and keep one’s spirits up. I figure that doing a social activity is probably a lot safer if it’s an outdoor activity.

It's easy to maintain social distancing on the trails as everyone hikes at their own pace but for the initial meet and greet, please have a face covering with you until we get started. Also, please respect each other’s space. When we pass other hikers put your face covering back on and move off the trail. As with all places nowadays, please stay home if you're sick or have been around anyone sick.

While hiking might sound strange to combat a global pandemic, research suggests that certain organic compounds released by trees might help boost the immune system. Other studies have shown that exposure to green space reduces stress – something we could all benefit from right now.

We understand your desire to get outdoors, and we think you should! But please stay close to home and practice social distancing. It’s OK to go outside, with a few major caveats, said Dr. Robert Murphy, director of the Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“You can practice social distancing outdoors, just keep to yourself. Remember the 6-feet rule,” said Murphy. “If you do it, just a few people, walking 6 feet apart,” he cautioned.

If you have a cough, fever or flu-like symptoms, we ask that you refrain from participating in our hikes to protect the safety and health of our members and volunteer leaders.

As you venture out please remember to practice social distancing and COVID19 precautions recommended by public health agencies when recreating.

• If trailheads are full, it is wise to choose a less crowded area or come back at a different time.

• Avoid visiting the forest if you are sick.

• Stay at least six feet apart from others, including having your dog on a leash and close to you.

• Follow the Pack it In Pack it Out rule. Take your trash with you when you leave. Trash overflowing the receptacles becomes litter and can be harmful to wildlife and attract bears.

• Be cautious and HikeSafe. Choose low-risk activities to avoid injury. This will help lower the burden on hospitals and health care system.

So by all means, check our Events Calendar and sign up! 

If you prefer to go out hiking by yourself and avoiding other people but need some tips, send us your questions. We’ll be glad to help!

© 2020 Gay Outdoors ; All Rights Reserved.

Hiking, backpacking, camping or vacation adventures, GayOutdoors [GO] has been the LGBTQ outdoorzy community leader for the last 22 years. We are an informal group of diverse hiking enthusiasts in the United States with a shared love of the mountains who prefer hiking with friends. We invite you to join us on our hikes, to post hikes for other members to join you and to share your hiking photos, stories and advice.

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If you find it invigorating to hike along a mountain trail with friends not knowing what’s just around the corner, to get some fresh air, to stop and soak in the views on a summit, and to soak your feet in a mountain brook after a hike, give us a try!

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