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UPDATE: Since I posted this two days ago, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is asking people to stay off the AT, even for day hikes.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail might seen like a perfect way to get through the COVID shutdown of life – I’m laid off, so let’s do that thru-hike! – but think again. Shelters are being closed and getting resupplied is more complicated.

It also might be dangerous to others. As this Washington Post story notes, hikers might unwittingly carry the virus to rural places that can’t handle it. The Continental Divide Trail Coalition, which oversees an AT-like trail in the Mountain Time Zone, put it like this:

We are thinking of the elderly man working part-time at the checkout counter of the grocery store where you will resupply, and the woman without health insurance who cleans your hostel or hotel room,” the organization’s website states. “We are thinking of the fact that many trailside communities along the CDT are small and isolated, and may be hours away from the closest covid-19 testing center or, more importantly, the closest hospital equipped to treat patients in severe respiratory distress.”

So, sorry hikers. Walk around your neighborhood 10,000 times if you need to but otherwise, stay home.

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