I wanted to provide a short update here about our 2020 trips relative to the COVID-19 pandemic. As always if you have any questions that aren’t addressed here, please e-mail me. I’ll respond as fast as I can, with as much information as I have. And I’ll update this post for any new information I receive.
Originally written March 17th, 2020. Updated as of May 9th, 2020 (afternoon).
First, the practical information:
All of our 2020 trips take place in Ontario Parks. As of May 9th, Parks has committed to opening the bulk of its parks on Monday, May 11th to day-use only. Ontario Parks will provide ongoing updates. For the full joint statement from the Minister of the Environment, Conservation, and Parks and the Minister of Health, please click here.
When the first announcement came out on March 17th I made the difficult decision to cancel my first trip of the season: backpacking trip in Bon Echo, that was to start May 22nd. I’ll be keeping a close eye on those Parks updates to see if it can be rescheduled for later in the season.
On March 18th the Prime Minister announced the closing of borders to non-essential travel. This now impacts Americans wanting to come up for a trip for the time being. I will be keeping an eye on developments here.
On March 31st, Toronto Mayor John Tory cancelled all events in the city through June 30th. As I am based in Toronto, I cancelled the June 25th Killarney canoe trip.
In April I put the Quetico trip on hold for the financial health of my company (Ontario Parks permits for 6 unconfirmed people for 10 days are expensive). This remains on hold as gatherings of greater than 5 are discouraged. I will reassess as we receive more information.
Health and Wellness
With travel now restricted and my first trip still a couple of months away, I will hold off on the standard “please let us know if you have traveled outside of Canada (or the U.S., I guess) recently” message you may have received from other service providers. As of March 23rd, I’ve cancelled a trip to Charlotte originally scheduled for the end of May to celebrate my folks’ 25th wedding anniversary. I have no other travel planned beyond – hopefully – taking you out into the backcountry.
If you do develop flu-like symptoms within two weeks of the start of your trip, I will ask that you stay home. I’ll work with each person individually with respect to cancellation. When purchasing trip cancellation insurance, ask your provider about purchasing coverage that allows you to cancel for any reason.
I had the flu at the end of February. I’m hoping that’s it for me. However, if I develop flu-like symptoms within two weeks of the start of your trip I will stay home. I will endeavor to provide you a top-notch guide so that your trip may carry on.
I clean and disinfect all group gear after a trip ends. I will do the same prior to packing a trip.
I will also thoroughly clean and disinfect the Subaru that carries all the gear and me to you, before and after each trip.
Provided our trips can proceed, I’ll continue with my standard health and wellness practices and add in a few extra measures.
Standard procedures include:
- A hand washing station with lots of soap and hand sanitizer
- Wash after using the loo
- Wash before handling food
- Wash anytime
- A dish washing station where one sink is HOT soapy water (sometimes too hot) and one sink is disinfectant rinse
- Ensuring everyone is well-hydrated (via a water filtration system), well-fed, and with any luck well-slept
Extra procedures include:
- Including extra non-latex gloves in the kitchen kit for food prep (a set already comes with me in the first aid kit)
- Extra disinfection of group gear between uses on each trip
- Likely evacuating anyone who develops flu-like symptoms on trip
As noted above I clean and disinfect all gear after a trip. I would ask that you stay in touch if you do develop flu-like symptoms in the two weeks after our trip. (I’d be happy if you stayed in touch even if you didn’t develop an illness.)
Second, taking care of head and heart:
Depending on how you approach times like these, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I know I have been. Reach out if you need some human interaction. Take a walk, if possible. Stretch, move, breathe deeply. Drink water and eat nutritious food.
I saw a Facebook post from an OB-GYN friend who said social distancing should be reframed as physical distancing. Talk on the phone. Send an e-mail. Reach out through a messaging app.
Take good care of yourself. I am here when you’re ready.