By Hadley Laskowski
As of June 26, all trails and facilities on the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in Vermont are open. However, given the public health concerns associated with COVID-19, campers using shelters and privies (outhouses) along the trails must adhere to special conditions.
Members of the Green Mountain Club (GMC) ask that all visitors to backcountry overnight sites only use shelters and privies if they are feeling healthy and haven’t been exposed to anyone who may have COVID-19. Moreover, they ask that campers bring their own hand sanitizer and wipes to sanitize “high-touch” surfaces in privies and shelters, since they are not cleaned or sanitized by club members. Campers are also asked to maintain 6 feet away from anyone they did not travel with and to wear cloth masks and face coverings when encountering other people on the trail.
Campers coming from out-of-state will be subject to the latest quarantine requirements from the state before starting. While on the trail, campers must assume shelters will be occupied by other visitors and be prepared to camp outside with a self-standing shelter such as a tent, hammock or bivouac. Apart from sleeping, campers should avoid shelters and spend as much time as possible in the open air.
Regarding privies specifically, GMC members ask that campers please use them if they are available, since privies help to eliminate human waste risk to staff and other visitors. Campers are also encouraged to wear masks while inside and to allow for time to pass between uses by different people, since privies are confined and enclosed spaces.
“Hiking is the ideal outdoor recreational activity for these times since you can get outside for exercise and fresh air while still adhering to social distancing and hygiene guidelines,” said the GMC staff in a statement to campers. “But let’s be smart about it and courteous to other hikers itching to get out just as much as we are.”