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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Post Apocalypse. Slow Ahead.

There’s a feeling you get during the last mile of a long hike.
Sweaty, tired and hankering for something to eat other than trail mix, the final leg of a hike—the light at the end of the tunnel-- holds the promise of relief, celebration and maybe a cold beer.
Hike progressions can be sort of like the ubiquitous bell curves and graphs that have become lifestyle tracking devises—the GPS—of the novel coronavirus reality we’ve been experiencing during these past weeks.
Solitude on the Sycamore Point Trail, Kaibab NF

Like those charts and graphs, hikes roll out on a curve. First, there’s the warm up followed by acceleration and pace-finding. Well-designed trails usually crescendo at a summit, high point, crux junction or vista point before winding down for the home stretch.
Sedona's Carroll Canyon area trails are less crowded options

But, unlike following a mapped trail with a pre-determined outcome, tracking a novel virus is a whole other matter. Being the insufferable nerd that I am, I know bell curves and projections are rooted in probability. They are code for researched guesses to help us make decisions and feel like we have some control over outcomes.  But, they are just tools for modeling  the what-ifs that drive decisions about which trajectories to ride through the crisis.

Over the past few days, reports that physical distancing efforts have been helping and the worst may soon be over hint that the light might flip on sooner than later.

The promised light at the end of the tunnel may indeed be flickering but caution is still advised.

Perhaps stay-at-home orders will be lifted in May. Maybe June. Until then we continue to optimistically interpret the slightest downward twitch in the curve as a sign we might be creeping back to normality.
Apache Maid Mountain near Sedona hike ditches the crowds
Creeping is the key word here.  As parks and trails begin to open back up, let’s not take that as a checkered flag but as a flashing red traffic signal.
Instead of racing out to usually swamped trailheads (Devils Bridge in Sedona, I’m looking at you), consider exploring less crowded destinations for a change.
Fine space on the Davenport Hill trail near Williams
Across the world, countries are slowing beginning to open back up. One news report showed images of people swarming formerly closed recreation sites in what looked like ridiculously uncomfortable and potentially hazardous conditions. Let’s not do that. Instead, once the all-clear is issued, resist the temptation to besiege popular trails and instead find solitude on the thousands of miles of lesser-used city, county, state and national trails we are so fortunate to have here in Arizona. 

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