In our current world of social distancing and a stay at home order, outdoor recreation looks a little different than it used to. GMC’s recommendation is to take walks right out your door and explore your neighborhood on any trails, dirt roads, or sidewalks you have available. As you discover what spending time in nature looks like for you during this time, we hope you will share the joy it brings you, just as you would if you were thru-hiking the Long Trail or climbing Camel’s Hump. Below, check out some of the ways GMC staffers are adjusting to our new normal outside.
Mike DeBonis, Executive Director
I live within walking distance of Harwood Union High School in Duxbury. Lately, I have been taking time to walk around the sports fields and trails. There is a small brook that runs through the property and this time of year it is teaming with life. In the morning, you can spy fresh tracks in the mud and snow. In the afternoon, I enjoy listening to the birds in the trees and trying to identify new spring arrivals. I very much appreciate the opportunity to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air right near my home.
Alicia DiCocco, Director of Development & Communications
As the kids and I adjust to our new outdoors, we are finding that places we used to walk by or rush past are some of our favorite spots to hang out. We are planning to bring our camp stove up to a creek behind our house and cook a full dinner with s’mores tomorrow. My 3-year-old has taken to bringing a soccer ball with him on walks up the road and thinks that jumping on a small trampoline while in the driveway while playing basketball is the cat’s pajamas. This change has been a little tougher for our kindergartner who is adjusting to a life where she only sees her friends on a screen and is constantly being annoyed by her younger brother. In the photo here she is on the ground proclaiming, “I am never walking up this road ever again. And I hate you.” Luckily, neither is true. Five minutes later she walked up the road and spent the afternoon pretending to fish in a puddle.
Mollie Flanigan, Conservation Manager
I’m a casual runner. A run-three-miles-after-work-to-get-my-wiggles-out kinda runner. The kinda runner who always chooses to spend my weekends hiking in the mountains rather than running a race. But, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in Vermont this spring and GMC recommended that everyone find close-to-home recreation, I looked to Burlington’s streets for that sense of accomplishment and exhilaration I’ve always looked to the Green Mountains for. Since finishing my end-to-end hike of the Long Trail last summer, the thrill of completing a goal was fresh in my mind and I suggested to my husband, Jake, “How about we set out to run every street in Burlington?” Two things I’ve always appreciated about living in a city is that running is a great mud season activity and there is always a vast array of routes and scenery to choose from to explore on your run. Now we’ll take those two advantages and start tracking our outings to explore the 95 miles of streets in Burlington. We’re two runs and 8.5 miles in to the project and we’ve already discovered views, houses, and trails we had no idea existed. And while a city run does not give you the kind of adversity and agility challenges that hiking on the Long Trail does, there are plenty of things to jump over, scramble up, and run around in a city, if you just choose to look at the landscape with an eye to recreation.
Jocelyn Hebert, Long Trail News Editor
I spend my time outside like many Vermonters, dodging puddles and ruts while walking muddy back roads around my village. Each winter, however, the frost unsettles several cairns I’ve built in my gardens and on my property so recently I spent time replacing the fallen stones and tightening up the structures. I also decided to tend to the drainage trench I made to divert a natural spring that bubbles each spring at the head of my driveway. Both activities are annual spring rituals that remind me of our hiking trails and make me long for the passing of mud season when we can head to the mountains again.
Matt Krebs, Operations Manager
Normally at this time of year, we would be wrapping up ski season and dreaming about summer days to go camping. However, with all the changes due to COVID-19, we are trapped at home trying to adjust, like everyone else, to this new way of life. My 6-year-old, Joe, and I decided we couldn’t take it any longer. We needed to take advantage of a clear, star-filled night and do some camping. I said, “Let’s camp on the porch”. He agreed. I was thinking we would just throw down the sleeping bags on our pads and have a nice night. It was clear he had other ideas. If we were going camping, we needed the tent. So, we set it up on the porch. We broke out some extra warm sleeping bags (the low for the night was 20), got our headlamps on, and grabbed some storybooks to read. When we awoke in the morning, I was ready to head inside the warm house, but Joe decided to soak it up a bit longer. He wandered in 15-20 minutes later with a nice big smile on his face.
Kristin McLane, Membership & Communications Manager
I’m a dirt road walker during mud season anyway, but I usually go to my friends’ neighborhoods to walk. Because of that, I’ve lived in the same place for almost four years and never really explored my own backyard. Now that I’m spending all of my time at home, I decided it was time to check it out. The road I live on in Duxbury is short, but I can take a quick jaunt through the woods to connect to another nearby road that goes on for miles. On one recent walk, I discovered a huge waterfall, with what looks like a good summer swimming hole at the bottom. Less than a mile from my house! I guess you never know what’s out there if you haven’t bothered to explore. I look forward to seeing what other surprises are nearby.
John Plummer, Group Outreach and Field Coordinator
My new outdoors consists of dirt roads and paintbrushes. A couple of weeks ago, I transitioned from alpine touring to running season a lot quicker than I expected. I am privileged to live near some great Vermont gravel roads, so I can go out on some very nice runs now. But I can’t run all the time, so I am also doing a lot more drawing and painting than I usually make time for. It’s nice to paint a place in nature that I have been to and remember my time there. (At right, pastel painting of Sabino Canyon in Arizona by John Plummer.)
Amy Potter, Visitor Center Manager
My husband and I are both privileged to be able to work from home during this uncertain time, but we also have an almost-two-year-old with endless energy demanding our attention. Getting outside has been essential for all of our well-being. Luckily, we live at the end of a dirt road surrounded by forest. Each day, we spend the morning exploring the woods around the house and the afternoon walking the quarter-mile down the road to the mailbox. Walking a quarter-mile with a toddler stopping at each puddle to throw rocks can feel endless, but it’s the highlight of my day during these hard times.
How are you getting outdoors these days? Share with us in the comments, or on social media using #MyNewOutdoors.