On March 29, after just 20 days into our thru-hike honeymoon, Jonathan and I decided to put our Appalachian Trail dreams on hold and get off trail to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We got a rental car in Knoxville, TN and drove to my parents’ home in Lake Charles, LA to wait out the pandemic. As much as we love spending time with family, we’ve been anxious to get back in the woods and have been checking the Appalachian Trail Conservancy on a daily basis for updates on closures.
Last week, when the National Forests in Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee reopened their access points, we started planning a safe return to the trail. We have taken a look at each state’s individual guidelines and have consulted with a doctor to ensure that would not be putting ourselves or others in danger. Now, after two months in quarantine, we are picking up where we left off, with a few extra safety precautions:
SANITATION – We will continue to carry soap and hand sanitizer. Both items were already a part of our pack list. We will wash our hands often and for the recommended 30 seconds.
GEAR – From now own, we will carry masks and gloves to wear through town and around people. We will also keep a thermometer in the first aid kit to monitor our temperatures.
SOCIAL DISTANCING – We will maintain a six foot distance from other hikers and anyone else who’s path we cross. We will not share shelters or hotel rooms with anyone and will avoid hitch-hiking and shuttles.
RESUPPLY – We will continue to have our supplies mailed to post offices along the trail. Only one of us will go inside to retrieve the package, while wearing a mask. The other will wait outside. All mail drops are within two miles, so there will be no need to hitch-hike or shuttle.
QUARANTINE – Should either of us feel any symptoms of COVID-19, we will consult a doctor immediately and if necessary, put ourselves in quarantine for the recommended 15 days.
We are so excited and grateful to be back on the trail!