COVID-19 and Hiking. Should I still go..?
A question that we get asked quite a lot in our Retail and Rental stores is 'am I safe to go hiking still?'
In light of the COVID-19 situation we have decided to offer some advice specific to our Bow Valley area and Alberta in general.
With the situation changing weekly we would always encourage any adventurers to check the latest advice from Alberta Heath Services
At the time of writing Alberta is in Stage 2 of re-opening:
Alberta is now in Stage 2 of relaunch. Albertans can and should confidently support Alberta businesses, while continuing to act responsibly and following all public health measures.
As a locally-owned business with a new store in Canmore opening during the pandemic we have been overwhelmed by the support we have received from visitors and locals alike and are proud to be part of the Bow Valley local community.
So in short, Yes!, you can still go hiking and enjoy the outdoors and our mountain towns. The benefits of getting outside really cannot be understated after a period of lockdown.
However, there are some basic precautions that everyone needs to take to keep us all safe. These apply whether you're visiting us from elsewhere in Alberta from other provinces, or whether you call the Bow Valley home.
First and foremost are the general guidelines that I am sure most of us are very familiar with seeing outside businesses wherever we live. Please delay your visit if you:
- Have been diagnosed with coronavirus
- Have symptoms of coronavirus but have not yet been tested,
- Have been outside the country in the last 14 days and are currently in quarantine
OK, so you meet all of the criteria above, what should you bring and what precautions should you take before and during your visit?
Before your visit
- Prepare for the trip - try to buy lunch and snacks and to fill up with gas in your local area
- Check before you go - keep up to date with any closures in Banff National Park and Alberta Provincial Parks
- Pack a mask - although you will not need to wear a mask whilst hiking, Banff has made masks mandatory both inside and outside in certain areas of downtown. Please see here for the latest. The Town of Canmore is also set to discuss the same issue in the first week of August so it is best to be prepared. We prefer re-usable masks as they are nicer to wear and nicer to the environment; win win!
During your visit
- Wear your mask if you are in areas where it is difficult to social distance and use hand sanitizer after touching shared spaces
- Hike within your ability - rescue services are already stretched at this time and are having to follow the same safety protocols as everyone else. Make sure your trip is not also putting other people at risk.
- Whilst out hiking stay 2m/6ft away from any other hikers not in your party. Take care and be friendly and courteous when passing groups coming in the opposite direction
- Try to avoid more popular trails. Unfortunately some of the easy to access day hikes do become crowded at the weekends or on sunny weekdays. If possible save these hikes for less crowded days. Grassi Lakes, Lady MacDonald, Tunnel Mountain, Ha Ling Peak and East End of Rundle (EEOR) are some of the more popular routes. They are popular for a reason and they should remain on your 'To Do' list but just be aware that it may be hard to social distance on these trails.
- You do not need to travel far to find quieter trails. We love the All Trails app for how comprehensive and simple it is to use. Try exploring the Kananaskis area around the Smith Dorian (Spray Lakes Road) or even Johnson Canyon due to the road closure. The best way to get there is by bike, rent one from us in Canmore or Banff for an awesome day out. All rentals come with a lock so you can explore Johnson Canyon once you get there!
This may all sound very serious but we would also say make sure you enjoy yourself! Come to the Bow Valley to explore the outdoors, get some fresh air and exercise, marvel at the views and support local businesses. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Image courtesy of banff.ca