Socially Distant Hiking Tips

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun is shining and the temperature is in the upper 60s to mid 70s with a light breeze. After being cooped inside all week nature is calling. So, you lace up your hiking boots and prepare for a day trip to the great outdoors. But when you finally arrive you realize everyone else had the same idea. Lot after lot filled with cars, with dozens of additional vehicles lined up along the roadway. You were almost certain you could abide by social distancing rules at a state park then suddenly you feel defeated. What now? Do you turn around and head home? Before you arrive to find yourself in this circumstance, dreading a potentially wasted trip, here are five ways to navigate the situation before making that U-turn.


Arrive early. You know the saying ‘the early bird gets the worm’? Be the bird. Look up what time the park opens and aim to arrive within an hour of that time to avoid the crowds. It may seem like the simplest advice but many of us prefer our sleep over sensibility. In this case, by the time all those sleepyheads arrive around noon you’ll be finishing up your well-deserved, uninterrupted nature walk.

Take the drive. More often than not, the general public prefers the easiest option which generally means whatever is right in front of them. The first two, three, heck even six lots might be full, but the further you drive into the park the better your odds are for avoiding crowds.

Visit AllTrails, a go-to for trail enthusiasts with suggestions on which nature walk is best suited for you. It’s detailed guide tells you everything you need to know– distance, approximate time, route type, elevation gain, photos, and even public reviews. It’s an ideal source for planning ahead or even on the spot when your original plan falls through. Keep in mind, the less reviewed destinations are also the most likely to provide a spacious environment.

Google it. While AllTrails finds tailor-made trails for hikers based on park or trail name, Google maps is a great resource for those who aren’t quite sure what they’re looking for. By simply mapping out a radius, Google will disclose the nearest parks. It’s sort of like getting lost in the right direction.

Bring a mask. Being surrounded by nature won’t always guarantee the social distancing you might need. Our new reality is that most parks even have signs stating a six feet mandate. If you’re truly stuck with either lace up or go home, at least be prepared the way you would anywhere else. Some nature is better than none at all.




Fernweh On Earth Day

I woke up today with an ache in my chest. It’s a pain I’ve felt before, one I’ve come to know all too well. The German’s call it ‘fernweh’, and while there’s no English translation equivalence for it, it can be loosely defined as distant sickness. Unlike wanderlust, another German word literally translated as a desire to wander, fernweh can cause actual discomfort out of the desire to travel to undiscovered places.

Considering my constant affliction with wanderlust, I’ve been fairly good at keeping my conceptual travel plans at bay during a global pandemic. The old me would comb through travel websites, marking up an ever growing Adventure List. But, amid COVID-19 I’ve only skimmed through a single book — realizing at that moment I could check off the cover photo as ‘places I’ve been.’ All things considered, I’ve done an excellent job at ridding travel temptation during this quaran-time. Albeit, I’m unsure if it’s self-preservation or actual self control.

Banff National Park, Lake Louise


But this morning fernweh washed over me like a tidal wave, my gut instinct drowning in moments of what could be. My mind drifted to the mountains and I saw the big Montana sky. I heard the neighing of a horse I longed to ride through the valley and felt the wind blow through my hair as the dirt kicked up behind. Fernweh grew, pinching my arms and legs. It eventually gripped my emotions, the way a good kiss lingers even after lips have left– happy at the memory, saddened by its disappearance. Was it possible to miss a place I had never been, to feel so completely lost for something I had yet to experience? The emotion is anything but foreign and yet I somehow forgot all about it.

In an attempt to ease my fernweh, I began scrolling through images of past adventures. I may not be physically capable of boarding a flight right now but in the meantime I could at least travel down memory lane. I recalled a drive I took through Jackson, Wyoming in summer of 2017. My friend gave me the keys to his truck and I drove for two hours in a single direction, to the point cell reception and GPS were out of reach. Locals yelled at me for driving irresponsibly down side streets (it was a very big truck, turns were impossible, and I had no idea how to work it). Eventually, I got to a dirt road and drove to the end. I parked the truck, got out with no one in sight, phone completely out of service, and started to follow the sounds of the river. I kept walking down a narrow path that was created by the few wanderers before me. It was beautiful, and very representative of my personality– always the pathway less traveled, giving my mother a metaphorical heart attack with each anecdote. 

Somewhere in two hours outside of Jackson


Suddenly, it dawned on me that today is Earth Day, established in 1970 as a way to spread environmental awareness. April 22, 2020 marks its 50th anniversary, a milestone date that is observed on a global scale with over 190 countries engaged and 1 billion individuals mobilized in action. Heightened by the novel coronavirus, this year’s message includes contrasting before-and-after images and statistics. NASA stating the Himalaya’s are being seen for the first time in decades in parts of India, sights of jellyfish swimming through Venice’s clean canals devoid of gondolas, and the World Economic Forum reporting a decrease in global pollution. The American Museum of Natural History posted a video . It points to a population increase from 3.7 billion to 7.8 billion in only 50 years, and the detrimental effects on planetary health, including its toll on wildlife. Now with countries enforcing quarantining humanity is beginning to see the Earth, and all of its inhabitants, a lot clearer.

It’s as though my soul knew this, literally awakening with an empathetic understanding that the world would never be the same; a world currently on pause that I may not recognize in a post-pandemic era. Could my fernweh be a universal ‘om’ of sorts? A calling for travelers bound to their homes who yearn for a plane ticket? Or is it all just coincidence?

While it never took staying home to elicit a desire to book a flight, or a road trip, it does produce a newfound outlook of the world around me. So, today I celebrate Earth Day in my papasan chair, admittedly searching the internet for places to add to that Adventure List– Montana, Iguazu Falls, Antarctica, the Azores, Lake Tahoe, etc.. Each destination a natural wonder that will afford a greater sense of appreciation, and growth, when social distancing is over.

A Glimpse Into NY Police During COVID-19

When COVID-19 first broke out no one in the United States thought much of it, since it began on the other side of the world. But for New Yorkers the world is a much smaller place when taking into account air traffic from JFK and Newark International Airports, both under 15 miles from Manhattan and less than an hours train ride. According to the JFK’s website, JFK had over 34.6k flights in January of 2020, only a slight decrease from 35.6k in December 2019, and Newark had 35.1k in January, down from 36k in December. Both hubs serve as not only destinations but connections to cities all around the world, a hotbed for pathogens to spread. This is back when China first began seeing a spike in illnesses, cause still unknown at the time.

America sat back in its recliner chair as the city of Wuhan, China began to make news. For most of the population this was the first time they ever heard of Wuhan and its over 10 million inhabitants– now infamously known for its Huanan seafood market (noted as the live animal market). Meanwhile, back in NYC, in a few weeks time COVID-19 was already running rampant through a population of 8.3 million. New Yorker’s walked around blind to a virus that couldn’t be seen, and still had yet to be identified. Now, months later, as citizens socially distance themselves by staying at home those on the frontlines are in the trenches. And NYC police officers are no exception, reporting to duty as normal to keep the city alive and safe.

City officers, especially those stationed at highly trafficked locations, are one of the highest jobs at risk for exposure. Fortunately, as alerts for COVID-19 began to rise the department enforced precautionary measures. Memos stated that those feeling sick or showing any symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing) were to take a sick leave and self quarantine immediately for 14 days. Only those who tested negative were allowed to return to work. But, according to the CDC, symptoms don’t begin to appear until anywhere from two to 14 days after exposure. It was only after people began testing positive that gloves and N95 masks were distributed. Which means as police officers were once walking around without gloves and masks the potential for infection continued to spread.

In one patrol unit, of approximately 250 officers around 15 cases reported positive with many more out awaiting results. During the pandemic there’s been a tremendous sense of understanding, as units encourage officers to remain home to focus on their health. While things haven’t needed to shift gears just yet, contingency plans include longer hours or transferring of personnel to meet department staffing needs.


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Photo by Lex Photography on

As of April 9 at 5 PM EST, NYC Health COVID-19 data reports 87,725 confirmed cases with an estimated 21,571 hospitalized. The spike in deaths rose by 1,042 in less than 19 hours– going from 4,778 at 5 PM on April 9 to totaling 5,820 at 11:30 AM on April 10. The numbers continue to climb as New Yorkers socially distance themselves, transforming the city that never sleeps into a scene out of a post-apocalyptic movie. For now, all there is to do is stay inside, disinfect as many surfaces as possible, and thank your frontline workers.