Local, Low-Risk Recreation
When disaster strikes, we at CalTopo are used to being able to take action – directly through SAR, indirectly by providing mapping support to incidents, or by supplying public information on rapidly evolving events like fires. So it’s an odd feeling to be facing a major emergency, and know that the best thing we can do to assist, is to simply stay out of the way. One of the few things that we can do, though, is to ask everyone who visits CalTopo to do the same.
While “stay at home” and its more colorful variants suggest hunkering down with locked doors and closed windows, we all need exercise, sunshine and fresh air – now more than ever. But it’s critically important that we dial back the risk level, and focus on minimizing travel by finding local activities.
This is not about the risk of getting infected on the skintrack or the trail. It’s about the parking lot at the trailhead, the gas stations and bathrooms en route, the grocery stores in town. It’s about the risk to and drain on emergency and medical resources if you become sick or injured – not just the risk of exposure, but also the scarce personal protective equipment used while treating you.
The tricky part to all of this is that taken individually, there are no unreasonable actions. Skiing, hiking and driving are all relatively safe activities, and you’re unlikely to get injured. You are probably not infected, and are unlikely to burden a small-town hospital system or spread the coronavirus in your travels. It only becomes problematic in aggregate. Across thousands of people traveling and recreating, some will get hurt, and some will unknowingly spread the virus. There is no way to guarantee that you are not one of those people, but you can stack the deck in your favor by limiting your risk and your geographic footprint.
Until the COVID-19 situation improves, CalTopo will be suspending any social media posts or marketing activities related to our app, as well as postponing new features that might encourage travel for recreation. We are still working hard and here to answer your questions, but we do not want to be encouraging people to recreate in areas they are not already familiar with. This means putting some of our own plans on hold, just as we are asking you to do, but we feel it’s the right decision.
Be safe, stay local, dream big, plan now, execute later.
(and use the gas money saved by not traveling to support your local gear shop)
Well articulated, well reasoned, and I love the actions you are taking – THANKs.
We’re just using it now to plan urban hikes from home.
Thank you – this has been a great time to use CalTopo for planning future trips, exploring unexplored local bike paths and gravel, and other low-risk activities. Thanks for building an awesome platform!
There is minimal risk by not going “local” either. If you are going into the backcountry to do low risk recreation and you fuel up your car in your local neighborhood, bring your own food, and dont use any public restrooms, then there is literally almost zero risk of transmitting the virus. Why does it matter how far you travel by car to get to there? People who keep writing these admonitions to stay local clearly dont live in overcrowded cities. If anything, we should be advocating the opposite and telling people to please stay away from their local overcrowded trails and consider going further away to find places where social distancing is possible.
Much wiser than the article.
Hospital beds are allocated demographically, based on local population needs, such that when you travel far afield to remote areas, if you need a rescue then you are competing for local resources that are only designed to accommodate a relatively small number of people who reside in the nearby communities. You don’t want to be that person, and more importantly, local SAR, EMT, and hospital personnel don’t want you to be that person.
This is the best time to plan future trips – thanks!