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  1. #1

    Default "The Ethics of Thru-Hiking During the COVID-19 Pandemic"

    I found this article on the Outside website to be fairly objective. It quotes people who fall into three groups: those who are attempting to thru-hike this year, those who have started and are debating getting off, and those who have cancelled their thru-hikes for this year.

    The author, who thru-hiked the AT last year, also gives his two cents:

    "...thru-hiking becomes so intoxicating that you put yourself at real risk every day, despite how little sense it may make. The notion that you might be putting someone else in danger during such a personal, visceral journey may seem unimaginable, especially if youíre not watching daily press briefings. Staring from my window at a distant bald mountain, I wonder if I would have had the courage to quit if this was my year on the trail. My selfish heart says no, that I would trudge ahead. My more logical head says yes, that I would save myself and possibly someone else by heading home. The head versus the heartóitís the same story every year for any thru-hike, just now with unfathomably higher stakes."

  2. #2

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    Making the same sacrifices that other citizens are making seems a reasonable ethical decision. Businesses have been impacted, weddings and funerals curtailed or postponed. It has been a long time since Americans (and many other nationalities) have been collectively asked to restrict themselves to this level for the common good. We all will need to do our part in order to save lives. Because that's what it's all about, saving lives. You have to put yourself in someone else's boots, walk their trail, and sleep in their tent.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

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  3. #3
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    I sure wish there was a "Like" button for posts like this.

    Well said.
    fortis fortuna adjuvat

  4. #4

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    How are you putting others at risk when individuals take risk each and every day. We must choose our own level of comfort. If I chose to hike the trail or go to the store during the Wuhan virus scare, that is my choice. Those that are hiking take the INDIVIDUAL risk of hiking. Just because someone else gets a warm and fuzzy feeling telling others how they personally should live is ridiculous. Okay, let's play this nonsense out. "Today I saw a bear on the trail near Hot Springs!" "Don't go there!" "Call the ATC and ask them to support stoping hikers from that area until a bear expert can give us the all-clear"....or, we as individuals can make the choices for ourselves knowing there was a bear spotted on the trail.

    People hike the trail each and every day with some kind of common cold or flu virus not knowing initially they have it. Should we stop hikers from hiking because there MIGHT be a risk? Of course not. Same with the Wuhan virus. Let the individual hiker assume his or her own choice and if they feel comfortable with the risk.

    The ATC closing their offices at Amicalola Falls State Park is silly. They are doing nothing except making themselves feel warm and fuzzy.

  5. #5
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    Well that escalated quickly. Just kiddin'.
    I have to somewhat agree with med2. I'm planning a section (4 days) probably the end of April. But I'm also not going in town, there'll be a car at each end, the only town stops are for gas along the way. So yea, I'm taking general precautions by not going into town and around people, but I'm also getting outside and doing something other than watching all the negativity on TV. Will definitely have much less contact with people than my day to day life, so why not? Is there a chance? Of course, but there's a chance I might not wake up tomorrow either so...
    - Trail name: Thumper

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by med2 View Post
    Okay, let's play this nonsense out. "Today I saw a bear on the trail near Hot Springs!" "Don't go there!" "Call the ATC and ask them to support stoping hikers from that area until a bear expert can give us the all-clear"....or, we as individuals can make the choices for ourselves knowing there was a bear spotted on the trail.
    This analogy is completely false. bear sightings are not extremely contagious and they are not 10x more deadly than the flu. Your attitude puts more people in danger.

  7. #7

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    The accumulation of self absorption and ignorance in med2's post is mind boggling.

  8. #8
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christoph View Post
    Well that escalated quickly. Just kiddin'.
    I have to somewhat agree with med2. I'm planning a section (4 days) probably the end of April. But I'm also not going in town, there'll be a car at each end, the only town stops are for gas along the way. So yea, I'm taking general precautions by not going into town and around people, but I'm also getting outside and doing something other than watching all the negativity on TV. Will definitely have much less contact with people than my day to day life, so why not? Is there a chance? Of course, but there's a chance I might not wake up tomorrow either so...
    Really the best alternative at this point.

  9. #9
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CalebJ View Post
    The accumulation of self absorption and ignorance in med2's post is mind boggling.
    Yep!!!!!!!

  10. #10

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    Christoph, I have no concerns about your plan. As long as you avoid other people and resupplies, etc you've got a very reasonable concept laid out.

  11. #11

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    Christoph, this makes sense--it's not the hiking/camping part. It's adding risk to environment of someone else...potentially in a location that has less resources to deal with sick people.

    Agree that it is a personal choice as is how one displays patriotism.

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    The truth is that no one knows what the correct choice is. If you stay you could be infected and the same is true if you go someone could infect you and you may infect another. Where you'll seek care depends on your condition and circumstances you'll find yourself in. But the truth is the same if you don't hike. Hike if you wish / must and you'll find out what happens. Anyone that says that you must do this or that is just voicing their opinion. Unfortunately I'm stuck at home and I'll wish the best of luck to anyone that chooses to hike.

  13. #13
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredt4 View Post
    The truth is that no one knows what the correct choice is. If you stay you could be infected and the same is true if you go someone could infect you and you may infect another. Where you'll seek care depends on your condition and circumstances you'll find yourself in. But the truth is the same if you don't hike. Hike if you wish / must and you'll find out what happens. Anyone that says that you must do this or that is just voicing their opinion. Unfortunately I'm stuck at home and I'll wish the best of luck to anyone that chooses to hike.
    You've been a member since 2011 and your first post huh. Well the thing is it's much more than a opinion, straight up fact. Stay home prepare not leave the house not infect don't get infected. Leave hike, stop a couple times a week into towns for resupply, hitchhike, motels and what if you get hurt and have to go to er not the place you wanna be right now and I think there a little busy right now.

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    It's not my first post, but perhaps that's not important to someone as yourself that seems to know everything. The thing about HYOH is that no one knows everything so your opinion is merely an opinion. Perhaps you're correct, perhaps not. I personally think hiking is good and if it's done well it's probably a better choice than staying at home. But as there's many warnings from certain people (from Governors, and others) that frankly don't know much I'll just let their advice slide. Yes, your opinion matters to you, but unless you know everything then it's just your opinion. They'll evaluate their hike and make their choice, hopefully for them they'll make a choice they won't regret. Either way, I hope that they will have a wonderful hike, if that's what they choose.

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    Remember, everything isn't as it appears. Not sure why it shows this as my first post, but I don't really care, much less care to correct the issue.

  16. #16
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    Apparently it doesn't show as my first post, just a minor error in interpreting my post.

  17. #17
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fredt4 View Post
    Apparently it doesn't show as my first post, just a minor error in interpreting my post.
    Yes my bad I was looking at your journal post.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by med2 View Post
    How are you putting others at risk when individuals take risk each and every day. We must choose our own level of comfort. If I chose to hike the trail or go to the store during the Wuhan virus scare, that is my choice. Those that are hiking take the INDIVIDUAL risk of hiking. Just because someone else gets a warm and fuzzy feeling telling others how they personally should live is ridiculous. Okay, let's play this nonsense out. "Today I saw a bear on the trail near Hot Springs!" "Don't go there!" "Call the ATC and ask them to support stoping hikers from that area until a bear expert can give us the all-clear"....or, we as individuals can make the choices for ourselves knowing there was a bear spotted on the trail.

    People hike the trail each and every day with some kind of common cold or flu virus not knowing initially they have it. Should we stop hikers from hiking because there MIGHT be a risk? Of course not. Same with the Wuhan virus. Let the individual hiker assume his or her own choice and if they feel comfortable with the risk.

    The ATC closing their offices at Amicalola Falls State Park is silly. They are doing nothing except making themselves feel warm and fuzzy.
    You're either ignorant or self-absorbed, both are poor qualities...the risk isn't for the individual, the risk is for someone they may come in contact with who has compromised health issues. I'm in no way shape or form concerned about contracting Covid-19 or the risks involved to me or anyone in my household, my concern is if I move around freely I may infect someone due to my own selfish actions - and they could die. Very few people who carry the illness experience symptoms. Why would you put others at risk?

  19. #19

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    "But what none of these organizations can do, of course, is legally or logistically close trails that run the length of the United States."
    I've made this exact point numerous times when someone posts that "The ATC (or someone else) has closed the AT." It's simply not an accurate statement. And if it's not true, stop posting it. Unless it's a State Park, I seriously doubt that a state/ commonwealth can actually, legally close the AT or any other trail.
    If an agency actually does have the legal authority to close the AT, prove it.
    For the sake of this discussion, I'm not interested in what anyone thinks is the ethical thing to do. Opinions are irrelevant here, let's see some facts.

  20. #20

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    If opinions are irrelevant, then please stop sharing your ignorance of common sense.

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