A Different Hiking Season Come November

Sun Lakes hikers DeEtte Faith, Diane Alessi, and Henry Silverblatt on a recent hike at Mount Baldy Wilderness in Eastern Arizona (Photo by Henry Silverblatt)

Sun Lakes hikers DeEtte Faith, Diane Alessi, and Henry Silverblatt on a recent hike at Mount Baldy Wilderness in Eastern Arizona (Photo by Henry Silverblatt)

Warren Wasescha

With COVID-19, you might be asking if the club will be hiking this upcoming season, beginning in November. The answer is a resounding yes, but with some changes to help keep you safe.

For starters, no social dinners, picnics, brunches, special hike, or endorsed lunch stops after a hike. It’s too risky being in close proximity with lots of people both indoors or out. Hard to keep a mask on and eat and drink. We want you to stay safe!

And monthly meetings will shift to an online format. Zoom video conference calls will become the norm this season. It’s too risky packing us into the Phoenix Room. If you haven’t used Zoom, send an email to our president DeEtte Faith at [email protected] and she can send you a test meeting link and walk you through a trial meeting. It’s easy!

As for actual hiking, we will hike Mondays only at all levels. No Wednesday hikes this season. And we will take precautions to keep everyone safe on those hikes.

You’ll be required to arrive with a mask on and keep that mask on until you’re on the trailhead. And we’ll be asking you to sanitize your hands before and after the sign-in process. So, bring your pocket hand sanitizer or wipes with you.

Carpooling will change as well. Before getting into a driver’s car, you’ll be required to keep your mask on and sanitize your hands. Drivers will keep their “fresh air” cycle on and crack windows to make sure fresh air keeps entering the car. Depending on the driver’s comfort level, the number of passengers per car may be reduced to four or less. Not comfortable with carpooling? You can always choose to drive to the trailhead separately.

At the trailhead, we’ll be asking you to keep your mask on while grabbing your gear and getting ready to hike. When we circle up, masks stay on both before and after a hike.

On the trail, if able to maintain a six-foot social distance, masks are optional. And you can always hike near the back and give yourself greater distance from others if desired. Come across a hiker going the opposite direction? Try to give them space if you can do so safely; otherwise, take a deep breath and hold it until they pass.

During snack and water breaks, we will stay six feet apart when masks are off to help keep everyone safe.

There will be only one community open house this year on Saturday, Nov. 7. It will be outdoors only in the Oakwood parking lot. Time TBD. Always check the MeetUp site for the latest information by typing “Sun Lakes Hiking Club” into your web browser.

Interested in hiking with us or have further questions? Please reach out to our president DeEtte Faith at [email protected] We welcome all able-bodied hikers!