Is nature becoming a problem during self quarantine?

The+trail+head+sign+for+the+Kings+River+Falls+Hike.+

Kourtney Allee

The trail head sign for the Kings River Falls Hike.

Kourtney Allee, Reporter

As COVID-19 continues to spread, scientists’ continuous research shows that one of the reasons the virus developed was because of deforestation. Grist explains how over the past 70 years there has been an influx of zoonotic diseases due to the increasing global temperature and destruction of natural forests by palm oil companies. Ironically, many during this time of quarantine are finding peace in nature, whether for exercise or a break from the indoors. The Conversation, a not-for-profit media outlet, explains that because of several cities shutdowns, ‘nature sounds’ such as rustling leaves and wind are not being masked. Nature is becoming increasingly important as our lives are impacted by this pandemic. Nature has been there to help fix people’s moods, outlook, and overall physical health. Many argue that “instead of regarding the pandemic as merely another problem requiring a technical fix, the world should see it as an opportunity to rethink humanity’s relationship with the planet” (Project Syndicate). No matter what you believe, there has been an increase in people turning to nature.

My sister’s birthday recently occurred, and because of the quarantine, she was not able to properly celebrate. Instead, she proposed going on a series of hikes, something she particularly enjoys doing. On Saturday, May 2nd, 2020 at around 1:00 pm, we went on our last hike at Kings River Falls. As my family approached the trailhead, many cars were lined up along the road. We saw numerous families and young adults getting out of their cars and heading towards the trail. We were concerned because others did not seem to care how close people were to each other. As my family and I continued on the hike, the trail got increasingly smaller and there was no way to keep 6 feet away from others. We passed by at least 30 people on the trail, and it was worrisome. Anyone of those adults or children could have had the virus, and we would have not known their condition.

Kourtney Allee
The Kings River Falls thin trail.

After a short 0.8 miles, we arrived at the falls, seeing at least 150 people crowding around the small area. My family was planning on swimming at the falls but came to a realization that possibly catching COVID-19 for a little swim was not worth it. They quickly took a picture of the falls and then joined me up above the falls in the river where we could safely ‘swim’ while still social distancing. A question that consistently popped into my mind during this experience was whether nature, though having major benefits, had possibly turned into a problem, specifically during this time of social distancing. Many young adults went to the falls to party, potentially risking their health to have a little ‘fun.’ Although we cannot read people’s thoughts and understand what they were thinking as they partied so closely together during this time of quarantine, it is hard to imagine that they truly considered all the risks they were taking with their health (and the health of those that they come in contact with on a daily basis).

Kourtney Allee
People surrounding the falls on May 2, 2020.

The Philadelphia Inquirer explains how the only way to safely occupy nature especially “during COVID-19, social distancing must be maintained.” Following the CDC’s regulations is of the utmost importance to safely go out into nature. All those on trails should properly keep 6 feet away from others on the trail and refrain from touching trees and benches. As everybody does their part and follows the CDC’s precautions, the social distancing measures we are facing now will be abolished more quickly.

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