How to Get Outside (Safely) During a Pandemic

The Blind River in St. James Parish is an ideal spot for social distancing: we passed one other boat all afternoon.

Things are rough out there right now. As an outdoor enthusiast, it’s difficult to know where to draw the line when going outside: Where can we go? What should we do? How far is too far? Is this selfish or even dangerous? Does this count as “essential?” While the answers to these questions are highly individualized and depend largely on your geography and unique situation, we’ve compiled some tips to help guide your decisions. 


1) Obey all federal, state, and local rules regarding COVID-19

Most of the world may be affected by the Coronavirus pandemic, but infection rates, infrastructure and resources dictate different responses from individual municipalities. These responses are fluid, so be sure to stay updated on the situation in your area. New Orleans is getting slammed with COVID- 19 cases, but Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards is still encouraging residents “to go outside and to stay active during this time, as long as they practice social distancing when they are around their neighbors.”


2) Maintain social distancing

That’s six feet, in case you haven’t been paying attention. Luckily, many outdoor activities like paddle sports, running, cycling, hiking and disc golf have these parameters built in, but be sure to avoid crowded trailheads, put-ins or parks. This also means that you should only use whatever gear is immediately available to you: if you have to go buy it, rent it or borrow it from your roommate’s cousin across town, the exposure to all parties involved probably isn’t worth it. 


3) Stay local

While it may seem like an ideal time to load up the car and head across the state to hit your favorite trail, health experts disagree; you may be unknowingly spreading the virus to less-affected areas. And consider the areas you’d like to escape to: they’re probably fairly remote (or at least rural) areas that don’t have the resources to respond to the crisis effectively. Also, staying close to home means you won’t have to stop for gas, food, or truck stop bathrooms–a move that will help keep everyone a bit safer.


4) Now is not the time to go big

It’s the number one rule in wilderness medicine: don’t become another victim. If you get hurt or lost out there, somebody’s gotta come bail you out. PLEASE cut our first responders a break and stay well within your skill level. They’ve got more important things to worry about at the moment, so consider yourself on your own. And, as pro climber Tommy Caldwell puts it, “taking up space in a hospital bed will amount to a death sentence for someone else.” Take the opportunity to dial it down a notch–now is the perfect time to go on a chill bike ride, a leisurely paddle or an urban hike. If you’re still not concerned about anyone else’s wellbeing, consider that any trip to the ER right now will put you shoulder-to-shoulder with hoards of coughing, fevered patients for at least 12 hours. 


Getting outside during COVID-19 is really pretty simple: Obey the rules, keep your distance, stay close to home and don’t get in over your head. Check in with us regularly for ideas to get you outside, and don’t forget that the Outdoor Adventures staff is working hard to plan an epic Fall 2020 trip schedule– hopefully, with no social distancing strings attached.