I thought I would make it here eventually

Today I begin my journey into the Ansel Adams Wilderness in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.    Today I am finally hiking in one of the most beautiful places in the country after almost a year of planning.  I can get away from the “real world” for a few days and relax in the forest.  I get to enjoy the gifts of nature while hiking with one of my best friends at Inyo National Forest

Doh! The first paragraph resembles how I wanted to start off today.  Inyo National Forest (along with most of Southern California) is closed due to wildfires.  The National Forests have been closed for a while too.  We held on to our plane tickets optimistically in hope that somehow the fires would be extinguished before we left for the West Coast, but sadly, we had to stay home.

The apocalypse seems to be upon us with fires engulfing the Western US, most of the country still facing restrictions due to COVID-19, and an elevated level of political shenanigans in an election year (go figure).  I think we could use a Simpsons Halloween Special right about now (scheduled for October 18).

Cancel Culture

We cancelled our flights earlier this week to fly to Los Angeles today.  It would have been our starting point for getting to Inyo National Forest.  It seemed inevitable that the forest would remained closed through the next week.  We may have missed out on the best coach flight experience due to the travel circumstances.  Round-trip tickets from Baltimore to Los Angeles were $180 and the airline is leaving the middle seats open and fresh air is pumped in every few minutes (allegedly).  How luxurious!

This was the second long-distance trip I postponed this year.  In April, I postponed a bike tour which would have taken me through Shenandoah National Park.  Biking Skyline Drive in its entirety is a goal for many bike enthusiasts on the East Coast.  I decided to err on the side of caution since COVID was really breaking out in the US at the time.  I suppose it was the proper thing to do, especially as most National Parks shut down in the Spring and Shenandoah was handing out $1,500 fines to thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

Let’s look on the bright side 🙂

You don’t have to go far to explore though.  Like I said a few months ago, these are strange times with a lot of unknowns, but there are opportunities too.  If you are safe about going outside (keeping your distance) then there are opportunities everywhere.  My wife and I recently moved and there are plenty of parks and recreation options nearby.  However back in July when we moved, many of the parks were closed due to COVID.  What!?  Understandable, but we definitely need some sunlight for our health.  Hopefully this summer you were able to check out your local options since most of us weren’t going far.

Now that it’s early Autumn, it is a great time for exploring.  In two weeks we are taking a backpacking trip to Dolly Sods Wilderness for the second year in a row.  I am determined that this trip will not be postponed.  Monongahela National Forest is essentially fire-free.  The leaves should be colorful as well.  Third try to explore is a charm.

Fall colors in Dolly Sods near Blackbird Knob
Dolly Sods in Fall 2019  – credit: A. Proxmire

“The New Normal”

I don’t watch/read much news.  I get enough of it second hand and it seems to be very negative.  However I keep hearing the phrase “The New Normal” which makes it seem like we are stuck in this era of social-distancing, mask-wearing, and working at home.  The travel industry has been hit very hard of course, so will it be more difficult (and stressful) to travel?  I hope not.  I am putting my faith in science for a vaccine that puts everything back to the “old normal” as much as possible.  What else can you do?

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