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In an effort to resume group hikes, the Greenville Natural History Association implemented the following guidelines in May 2020.

I hope that you and your loved ones are well and coping with the unusual circumstances we are in, caused by the pandemic. I also hope that you have still managed to get some time in the outdoors, alone or in small groups observing social distancing.

We are seeing very positive news, as some states and public lands are beginning to reopen. While the COVID-19 crisis is far from over, businesses, agencies, and organizations like ours are all figuring out how to gradually resume activities in a safe and sustainable way. Keep in mind that there are many uncertainties, and there are likely to be steps backward as virus cases surge or there is a second wave in the fall.

With this in mind, the GNHA Board has agreed upon a plan to gradually resume scheduled club hikes.

The basic aspects of the plan are these:

  • We will tentatively begin scheduled hikes on May 30th, the first Saturday after Memorial Day.

  • We will be posting the events only 1 month in advance, so just June to begin with.

  • We will be posting just the hike leader and rating to begin with, rather than the specific hike. For example, “(VVS) Hike Leader: Jerry Ellsworth”, or (VS) Hike Leader Dale Hamann.

  • All club hikes must observe specified guidelines, including a max of 10 hikers, no shuttle hikes, six feet of separation, carpools discouraged, etc. The entire list will be published on Meetup and the website, and it will be updated as needed. Individual hike leaders are free to set more restrictive guidelines for their hikes, as they feel comfortable with.

  • Hike leaders will update Meetup with the details for each hike by 1 week before the hike date.

  • By default, hikes will open for RSVP 7 days before the hike date.

The point that has raised the most questions is why we are scheduling leaders and not specific hikes. The reason is that the ability to do a specific hike is dictated by many factors out of our control, such as governmental guidelines and the closure of trails, trailheads, access roads, and other facilities. It will be up to hike leaders to watch these factors and select good hike options closer to the date for the hike. It is also expected that hike leaders will choose to set their own restrictions, such as reducing the number of hikers lower than 10.

We know that this may seem too restrictive to some, and reckless to others. Our goal is to provide a framework for hikers and hike leaders to resume hiking in a manner they are comfortable with. We also respect the decision of those that are not yet ready.

Since the number of individuals on each hike will be smaller, we will be relying on even more hike leaders to be willing to lead. We will also ask for members to be cooperative and respectful of others, when vying for a limited number of RSVP spots.

This is intentionally a cautious approach that will evolve as conditions change. Please be patient as we try out this approach. We welcome any questions and feedback you have.

Best Regards,

Jerry Ellsworth

President, GNHA Hiking


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