The COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything I've experienced in my lifetime. Our lives, families and businesses have been disrupted. Most states have issued some form of “stay at home” order. Many parks and trails have closed, or have instituted measures to limit access and encourage social distancing.
The good news? Everyone has been doing their part to have help flatten the curve. Some states have announced that parks will be reopened, and plans are being developed to help open up further access.
What does this mean for the Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge? We cannot predict the future, but I am optimistic that all the mountains in the challenge series will be accessible in the next 2-3 months, in time for peak hiking season. I recognize that this may mean rescheduling your planned hikes. I had planned to hike four additional peaks in the SoCal series in April, followed by a climb of Mount Rainier in early May. Now my remaining hikes for the challenge will be pushed out until sometime this summer, and my Mount Rainier climb will have to wait until May 2021.
As parks and trail systems to the mountains in the challenge series begin to reopen, they will likely do so with restrictions. There may be limits on parking, facilities like bathrooms may be closed, and social distancing requirements established while on the trail. It appears very likely that with new restrictions on group gatherings, a finishers party may not be feasible, at least not in the form we've had in the past.
Thankfully, we hikers are a resilient bunch. We have learned to adapt to ever-changing conditions on the trail, and that flexibility will help us as we navigate the new rules for hiking during COVID-19.
We will be monitoring the evolving situation with the mountains and trails in the challenges, and keep you abreast of any changes. Thank you for being a part of this community, and for continuing to do your part by following local guidelines, respecting closures, and being kind to one another during the crisis.
As Hervey Voge said, “The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too.”
Resources for Hiking During COVID-19
- CDC Travel Guidelines
- CDC Guidelines for Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities
- National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) COVID-19 Resources