As spring advances and trail use ramps up, we need to remember government directives to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Hikers, trail runners, and mountain bikers need to cooperate more than ever to share the trails and make user encounters as safe as possible. Trail users should forego signing in to registers at trailheads for now. To maintain social distancing, trail users need to step off the trail to let others pass.
Hikers should distance at least 6 feet when passing each other. But what about trail athletes, who are working (and breathing) harder? Dr. John Unger is a sports chiropractor in Montrose who is a member of the Wilderness Medicine Society and a competitive trail runner. Based on published medical literature, Dr. Unger notes that trail users breathing hard, such as runners and mountain bikers, exhale a larger “plume” of tiny vapor droplets around and especially behind them. He and other health experts recommend that hard exercisers keep a greater distance from others, 20 to 30 feet, to minimize the potential spread of the virus. Wind can further spread the droplets that trail users exhale.
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