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リズ・トーマスのハイキング・アズ・ア・ウーマン#30 / コロナ期に北米ではどのようにハイカーイベントが開催されているか

2021.01.22
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Hiker Events During COVID-19

The long distance hiking community loves to gather for events each year. Hiker events are a “family reunion” where we can reconnect with people we befriended on mountain-tops, in snow storms, and at all-you-can-eat buffets. Each year, hikers will travel hundreds or thousands of miles to teach at 5 different hiker education events, at hiking-themed festivals, or to receive their Triple Crown Award for finishing the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trail. But in 2020, in-person hiking events were canceled in the US due to COVID-19. So how have long distance hikers gathered despite the restrictions?

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photo by Naomi Hudetz

A New Kind of Quit Webinar
During Spring 2020, many trail organizations asked thru-hikers to end their hike due to COVID-19. National Parks were closed and hiking long trails through parks during the closures in many cases was illegal. Since most long trails require hikers to hitchhike into small, rural towns to resupply, experts were concerned that hikers would spread the virus to communities that don’t have access to hospitals. The American Long Distance Hiking Association-West held its first online webinar “A New Kind of Quit” for hikers to talk about their experience ending their hikes early due to COVID-19. The recording is here.

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photo by ALDHA-West

The webinar was a panel of three hikers who got off trail due to COVID-19. Connie Malen Moen, whose trail name is “Happy,” is from Norway and had saved money for a long time to leave her job and hike the PCT. Sherman Maningas “Happy Feet” is an American thru-hiker who was forced to leave New Zealand and abandon his thru-hike of the Te Araroa Trail. Fima Gelman “Tripod” left his third attempt of the PCT during the spring COVID-19 shutdown.

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photo by ALDHA-West

For Happy Feet and Happy, leaving the trail was not just heartbreaking, but expensive. Last-minute flights from New Zealand to the US cost Happy Feet much of the money he had saved for his thru-hike. Happy also took on debt to fly back to Norway on a last-minute ticket. But more than the financial pain of abandoning a hike unexpectedly, all felt sad to have left behind a dream. Each hiker emphasized that the trail will still remain and that they know they did the right thing.

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photo by ALDHA-West

Watching other hikers talk about their sadness from having to leave a trail against their best intentions made all of us who watched the webinar feel less alone. We were all bummed to not be able to hike. Many of us already knew that our summer thru-hiking plans would have to be canceled. Participants used the chat-function in the webinar to swap ideas on how to adjust hiking plans for COVID-19 and on staying fit through 2020. Knowing that others felt the same way we did reminded us that even if we are all apart, hikers are still a community.

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photo by ALDHA-West

Thru-hiking While Black Webinar
In summer 2020, racial tensions and protests came to the forefront of the news and many people’s minds. Trails and the outdoors are influenced by historic and current racist policies and practices. For example, some National Parks did not allow Black people to camp in the same area as white people in the 1930s-1960s, including Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky National Park, both of which are along the Appalachian Trail. In July, ALDHA-West held an event where three Black Triple Crown Thru-hikers shared their experiences of hiking America’s long trails while being Black. The recording can be found here.

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photo by ALDHA-West

Elsye Chardonnay Walker was an avid long distance cyclist before she became a thru-hiker. In 2018, she became the first Black person to complete in its entirety the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trail. Will “Akuna” Robinson, a veteran and sponsored athlete of Merrell, became the first Black man to complete the Triple Crown in 2019. The moderator was Amanda “Zuul” Jameson, who was Backpacker Magazine’s Thru-hiking Correspondent in 2016 and whose hiking advice is in my book, Long Trails: Mastering the Art of the Thru-hike.

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For many white thru-hikers, this webinar was the first time they had thought race in an outdoors context and about how thru-hiking while Black in the US is a different experience than thru-hiking while white. Over 1000 people signed up for the event–many not thru-hikers, but general outdoors enthusiasts. It showed that even though we as hikers are separated during COVID-19, that we can learn together, using hiking as a way to bond ourselves through difficult conversations playing on the national stage.

Upcoming 2021 Online Events
In Spring 2021, with travel restrictions still in place, the spring annual pre-hiking season education events will be online. In a pre-COVID year, 5 events were held in 5 different states. In 2021, there will be four different webinars, each one specializing on a category of interest with breakout sessions where each attendee can choose two related topics. One nice advantage of the webinar events is that anyone can join from anywhere in the world. I hope that hikers in Japan can join, too. The registration hasn’t opened yet but it will be available here.

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https://www.aldhawest.org/

Intro to Thru-hiking Webinar: A standard at most pre-hiking season events, panelists will discuss topics such as resupply, navigation, lightweight gear, and Leave No Trace outdoor ethics.

Affinity Space Webinar: This event will have break-out rooms to talk about issues like women’s specific concerns on a thru-hike and hiking in the US while Black or as a Person of Color. Sometimes, it can feel too sensitive to ask questions on these topics in a bigger group, so this webinar is a chance to talk with peers about their experiences.

Advanced Thru-hiking Webinar: One of the advantages of teaching hiker education online is that it’s easier to fit in more topics. In previous years, we only had 8 hours to cover more than 8 topics–everything from intro education to details about trails to advanced ideas. As a result, advanced hikers would sometimes get bored listening to intro education topics. This year, as an online event, there will be one webinar dedicated to advanced topics like reading weather, make-your-own ultralight gear, and hiking advanced routes.

Trail-Specific Webinar: This event will have many break-out rooms, each dedicated to a different trail. Hikers can choose the trail they are interested in learning more about, including the Pacific Crest, Appalachian, and Continental Divide as well as lesser known trails like the Hayduke Trail or Great Divide Trail. Maybe we can even find a trail leader to talk about a hike in Japan?

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https://www.pctdays.com/

It’s still unclear whether in-person hiking events will be allowed in Summer or Fall 2021. We are still hoping the PCT Days outdoor festival in Cascade Locks, OR can be held this summer. We also hope that the annual American Long Distance Hiking Association West Gathering can be held in Colorado this Fall for all the Triple Crown recipients who were hoping to receive their plaques. 2020 has been a strange year for hikers. It will make us all the more grateful for the day when we can hike together with our friends again.

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photo by Robert Curzon

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WRITER
Liz Thomas

Liz Thomas

2011年にアパラチアン・トレイルを女性の最速タイムで踏破した記録(当時)を持っていることで知られている。彼女はトリプルクラウンを達成しただけでなく、米国に15以上あるトレイルでのスルーハイクを経験し、今まで15,000マイル以上ものトレイルを歩いてきた。また、彼女はその経験をロング・ディスタンス・ハイキングのコミュ二ティに還元することにも熱心で、American Long Distance Hiking Assosication-West(ALDHA-West)のバイスプレジデンドも務めている。彼女がハイキングを本格的に始める前は、イエ-ル大学の森林環境学部で環境科学の修士課程を修了し、彼女が手がけた、ロング・ディスタンス・ハイキング・トレイルとその保護およびコミュニティに関するリサーチは、名誉あるDoris Duke Conservation Fellowshipの賞を受けた。スポンサーはAltra, Gossamer Gear, Probar, Vermont Darn Tough socks, Mountain Laurel Designs, Sawyer filters, Montbellで、アンバサダーとして活躍している。
http://www.eathomas.com/

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