Was it only a month ago? The virus had not yet gone viral, and our end of winter activities were proceeding as normal…snowshoeing daily, making reservations for canoe camping trips and travel adventures, ordering some new paddling gear, and prepping equipment for a spring and summer of fun. Little did we know what awaited all of us.
How quickly it all changed! On March 15th we took some family members from Maine out snowshoeing on a favorite trail; at the time, there was just beginning to be talk about cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
The trail leads to the remote campsite where we were scheduled for camping during opening weekend of GRRSP, May 15-17th….maybe next year!
At the time, I was speaking to our son who lives in Washington DC area, about deciding when I should come down in April for an annual spring visit. I had checked for events at the Kennedy Center, and looked into booking a kayak tour of the Washington DC monuments, anticipating a few warm spring days in our nation’s capital. Nope, not gonna happen. Our daughter in Canada said she would be trying to get down for a spring visit; of course, once the borders closed, that became impossible.
When the situation became obviously quite severe, we foolishly assumed that our “Vermont Bubble” would protect us…deep down, we knew that the social, economic, and recreational effects would reach us eventually, but it seemed so surreal. The dogs are, of course, oblivious to the situation, and have provided welcome comfort and consistency in these uncertain times.
Though we have had to make adjustments, we consider ourselves fortunate. We live very close to a number of trail options, where we are confident that we will not encounter any other hikers. Snowshoeing ended a bit earlier than usual ( 103 days total, I think), since the mountains and many of the larger trail networks all closed as a preventative action; no need for people getting hurt, when rescue personnel are also dealing with the Covid-19 situation! We did manage to get in some end-of-season snowshoeing in local state parks and on local trails seldom used, where the snow hangs on a bit longer than other trails. We are pretty much now into mud season hiking, enjoying a taste of bare ground whenever it is encountered.
My husband has set up an office and can work from home, so he is sticking to a “normal” schedule. The dogs get out for their daily hike each morning, but the hikes are more local, and are a bit shorter in duration. Though I tend to prefer solo hiking, the enforced social isolation has seemed a bit strange.
I did manage to get the modification to my canoe taken care of…I moved the forward thwart ahead a bit, to provide Griff a bit more room to turn around and lie down, better accommodating his surgically repaired knee. We actually got out on the water last week, and he seemed to enjoy the extra room. The water was cold, but the sun was shining, and the sky was bright blue…neoprene for Griff under his life jacket, and dry suit gear for me, so we kept safe and comfortable.
Now snow and cold have returned, at least for a few days, so we are not sure we will get out for our Easter Sunrise paddle. We are able to access a few local lakes with open water, where we will not see anyone else, so are able to follow the guidelines in our state.
The Stay at Home conditions here in Vermont have allowed outdoor recreation; however, camping will probably not happen until mid-June at the earliest. The cancellation of traditional early season camping trips is frustrating, but we cannot dwell on that. We are fortunate to be healthy, still employed (and retired) and living in an area of great community support. I love watching the birds return to our area, and though I am not taking any birding road trips, locally we have had some lovely bird and wildlife sightings!
Our local camping trips will be in a flux for a while, and we will have to be tolerant…everyone who has had their scheduled trips cancelled will be attempting to get out as soon as they are able. We will reserve our camping spots for September in Algonquin (last we checked, we could still do that), keep active locally, re-schedule all the cancelled doctor, dentist, and vet appointments as soon as possible, and look forward to re-connecting with friends and family in the real world, instead of on Zoom.
Keep healthy, safe, and keep connected…our social media connections to others in the outdoor recreation world have been invaluable in the past…now, they are essential. All paddle shows and presentations have obviously been cancelled, but through our paddle show connections, we were asked to do a webinar on Paddling with your Pups, via the Seacoast Paddleboard Club. That should be fun, and is happening on April 19th. Paddle On, Hike On, Camp on…all in this new sense of reality!