A message from Dave and Jessica
We became outdoor guides because we believe in the restorative powers of the wilderness, particularly in times of crisis. Like you, we’ve been keeping abreast of the news and thinking to ourselves, “I’d really like to run away to the woods right now...”
As responsible citizens, Jessica and I have kept up with the most reputable information and have adopted the recommendations on how we can do our part to mitigate risk for the population as a whole.
As small business owners who provide a service that is not essential, but beneficial, particularly in times of high stress and isolation like these, we set out to determine if we could continue to provide these benefits without jeopardizing the health of our adventurers, team, or the public at large.
As experts in risk assessment and mitigation over all of our adventures, we approached this question as we would any other risk factor (severe weather, exposed terrain, etc). First, we asked ourselves if the reward was worth any amount of risk.
In this time of severe social isolation, the benefits of getting outdoors are more meaningful than ever. The health benefits of spending time in the woods are well documented; an immune boost from the Vitamin D and disinfecting power of the sunlight, lowering levels of immune suppressing stress hormones, the peace of mind and perspective that comes with a news detox in the wilderness, and more. We are also able to offer safe, healthy social interactions in the open air, where everyone can remain well-spaced and still enjoy an experience together, something many people have no access to at this time while working from home and practicing good social distancing.
Having decided that offering adventures would be a goal worthy of taking risk—with the proper precautions—we then set about to determine if we might be able to manage this risk, and if so, to what degree and what procedures/protocols might be used to achieve our goal of risk reduction.
We sourced as much information as possible from as many reputable sources as possible: CDC, Johns Hopkins, WHO, et al. Once we felt that we had a good sense of where the greatest risks lie and how we might potentially mitigate them, we decided to run a test trip this past weekend with a very small group of three hikers. Seeing the incredible positive effect on all involved, we have decided to keep running trips, with significant adjustments to be safe and to do what we are all trying to at this time: prevent the spread.
We are asking that anyone who signs up for an adventure to please pre-screen themselves before joining. If you have been feeling sick at all, please do not join. If you have been in contact with anyone who is sick, please do not join. Keep in mind that you may be a carrier even if you are not showing symptoms. We, ourselves, are practicing social distancing and only venturing out of the house for essential trips, so that we minimize our exposure. We ask that you do the same. If you are someone who comes in contact with people who are high risk, please do not join our trips for now. (For those of you on the front lines of this, we thank you and we look forward to doing something for you once this storm has passed.)
In the Van
The van ride to the trail poses the greatest challenge for social distancing. We have been in touch with our van rental company, who has assured us that they are sanitizing all vehicles between rentals. Our guides also wipe down the vans with a bleach or sanitizing solution when they pick up the vans, which we will have on hand if anyone would like to use it themselves for ultimate comfort. We will be renting vehicles that allow the most distancing between people.
As you know, serving fresh, excellent meals is one of our favorite parts of guiding, but due to recommendations from the CDC, we will no longer serve any food on our trips, including coffee and breakfast in the morning. The risk of cross-contamination is too great. We will provide a list of recommended food to bring on your adventure. Thank you for your understanding, and know it breaks our hearts to not be able to serve you great meals in the woods as we normally would.
We will also be forgoing group pictures and recommending that people keep good distance generally. We will make sure enough guides are present on each trip so everyone can go comfortably at their own place while maintaining appropriate distances.
We understand that you are placing a great deal of trust in us to join our adventures in this difficult time, and we take this responsibility incredibly seriously. We are reading the CDC announcements and updates each day, and of course this situation continues to evolve daily. For anyone signed up for a trip, we will be in touch frequently beforehand. For anyone thinking of signing up, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We will update our policy as new information becomes available.
If you are not able to join us, please remember that this is a difficult time for all small businesses in our upstate and downstate communities—bookstores, restaurants, hardware stores—the list goes on. If you still want to help out please consider writing a rave review for your favorite businesses to boost their standing when they’re able to return to business and consider ordering items online or buying gift cards when possible.
We will be posting images from trips, soothing pictures of the forest, and many happy pictures of Winnie in the coming days and weeks. We are so honored to be a part of your community, and if there’s anything we can help anyone do to get through this, please don’t hesitate to share.