Guidelines for Section Outings

Edited June 26th, 2020

GMC’s GUIDELINES FOR SECTION OUTINGS IN THE AGE OF COVID-19

Participant

Planning a Trip
• Look for a trip that is well within your hiking ability. This is not the time to try pushing your limits and
thereby take on added risk for the individual or group.
• For out-of-state participants, verify that you meet state criteria for cross-state travel
(https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel) and follow additional state guidelines.
This is updated every Friday, so check it before each trip.

Before the Trip
• Sign up with the trip leader and provide contact information to be filed securely by GMC Staff for 30
days. Participant contact information will be used only in the event contact tracing is required.
• Review and acknowledge that you have read, understood and agree to follow these participant
instructions.

DO NOT COME if you or anyone in your household is not feeling well, have a fever or have been
exposed to someone sick in the past week. Alert the trip leader you will not be coming.
• Bring a mask (a “buff” is not acceptable) and hand sanitizer that you can keep accessible during the
hike, plus all your own usual hiking stuff (water, food, clothing, sunscreen, bug dope…)
• Drive separately and do not carpool to the trailhead or meeting location designated by the trip leader
(ride sharing from a single household is OK).

Start of Trip
• Adopt an “arrive, play, leave” mentality, and minimize gathering time.
• Wear a mask as you exit your vehicle, meet the leader and other participants, hear the hike
instructions and depart from the trailhead.

During Trip
• Do not share food, water, or equipment outside your own household members.
• Stay spaced out on the trail at least 6 feet apart.
• All participants should be aware of the need for hiker awareness and consideration of others. It is
respectful to put on your mask when passing others.
o When approaching another hiker to pass, slow down, give a friendly “Hello” and communicate
with hiker the next best move for passing while preserving social distancing and the trailside
vegetation.
o Step off trail when needed. In areas that don’t allow for six-feet of passing, step at a 90-degree
angle off the trail onto a durable surface, wait until the passer is gone, and retrace your
footsteps to the trail.
• Don’t pass the lead hiker and especially stop at any trail junction or place where there is any
uncertainty about the route.
• Avoid sharing anything and use hand sanitizer if you must share.
• At breaks, stay spread out and avoid blocking the trail or treading on sensitive plants and soils. Avoid
using shelters and picnic tables during breaks.
• Privies on the Long Trail are open and should be used when needed. Practice regular personal hygiene
when using privies, sanitizing your hands before and after using the privy.
• Wear masks when practical and reasonable. This may not make sense when you are breathing hard
and sweating, (especially since soggy masks aren’t effective). If not wearing your mask, keep it easily
accessible.

After Trip
• If you show signs and symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care provider or health provider
immediately to request further guidance.


Specific guidance for the Organization, Outings Coordinator, Trip Leader and the Participant

These guidelines were created by the Section Outings Working Group (SOWG) in early June. The SOWG is
made up of trip leaders, outings coordinators, and experienced section representatives who considered all
aspects of section outings. This guidance is the best available at the time being, but as with all things, is likely
to change in the future. In the event a re-emergence of COVID-19 cases is seen in Vermont or neighboring
states, this guidance may become more restrictive or outings may be cancelled again.
There is specific guidance for the Organization, Outings Coordinator, Trip Leader and the Participant. For trip
leaders and participants, we’ve broken the guidance into specific time frames.
1. Planning a Trip
2. Before the Trip
3. At the Start of the Trip
4. During the Trip
5. At the End of the Trip (Not for Participants)
6. After the Trip
These guidelines are prescriptive but will inevitably fail to cover some questions and answers. Without being
too verbose, consider the below summary of rationale for establishing guidance.
1. Minimize the chances of including potential sources of contagion on our trips.
2. Reduce the opportunities for transmission spread on our trips.
3. Follow rules and regulations established by relevant governing bodies and maintain some semblance of
consistency with GMC’s other guidelines.
4. Provide consistent and simple guidance for outings leaders and participants.

Resources for COVID-19 Guidance
Governor Scott’s COVID-19 Response- https://governor.vermont.gov/covid19response
CDC Website- https://www.cdc.gov/
ACCD COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center- https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19
FPR Outdoor Recreation and COVID-19- https://fpr.vermont.gov/recreation/outdoor-recreation-and-covid-19
Vermont Department of Health- https://www.healthvermont.gov/response/coronavirus-covid-19
Green Mountain Club Response- https://www.greenmountainclub.org/covid-19-response/

ORGANIZATION

Provide initial guidelines.
• Disseminate guidelines to outings coordinators, including pushing out updates as they occur.
• Securely file for 30 days all trip leader contact lists.
• In the event a trip participant tests positive, coordinate with the VT Department of Health for
participant list and contact tracing.
• Make guidelines available online in an easily found location and share that location with Section
President’s and Outings Coordinators.
• In consultation with Section Outings Working Group, provide updates to guidelines.
o Receive feedback from trip leaders and outing coordinators.
o Monitor guidance from governing organizations.
• In consultation with Section Outings Working Group and outings coordinators, provide virtual training
for trip leaders.
o Twenty-minute zoom webinar for trip leaders which is recorded for playback by other leaders.

OUTINGS COORDINATORS

• Act as conduit for guidelines, training (or training opportunities), questions, and feedback,
communicating all in a timely manner.
• Ensure that trip leaders who have signed up to lead trips acknowledge that they have read, understood
and accept section outing guidelines.
• Outings coordinator will share and inform trip leaders of the following:
o These guidelines for section outings.
o Virtual training for trip leaders.
o Availability and assistance from Outings Coordinator and GMC-staff contact.
• Consider buying PPE supplies (masks and sanitizer) in bulk to make available to trip leaders. These can be obtained from https://diamedicalusa.com/.

TRIP LEADER

These are the minimum safety guidelines for GMC Section Outings. A trip leader may impose additional
limitations (e.g., reduce group size, require mask wearing, limit breaks) if they wish to.
If planning a bike, paddle or other recreational outing, follow all guidelines of that waterway/trail network and
communicate questions or concerns with your Outings Coordinator and/or GMC.
The trip leader’s Section Outings Coordinator as well as the GMC Staff are available for specific questions or
clarifications related to this guidance.

Planning a Trip
• Identify a backup trip option if the trailhead parking lot is at or over capacity.
• Aim for a route that is less likely to be crowded on the day and time of the trip. Consider weekdays or
early starts. This is a good opportunity to get out on less traveled trails.
• Avoid point-to-point trips requiring car shuttles and consider availability of parking at the trailhead. If
parking appears to be an issue, you may consider a nearby location that would allow the shortest
possible carpool.
• For trips planned out-of-state, follow all travel rules and restrictions for Vermont and the state where
the trip is located.
• Plan day trips only, leaving overnight trips for another year.
• Be sure to have an experienced hiker (up front) and sweep (at the rear), to reduce need to move back
and forth throughout the group, and to increase safety.
• Plan trips well within the trip leader’s and expected participant’s capabilities.
• Any publicity (papers, website, e-mails) should include either full participant instructions or a link to
the same, and should not include the meeting place, to ensure pre-registration by participants. Note
that meetup.com requires an event date/time, but not a location.

Before the Trip
• Communicate with and require pre-registration by all participants, giving them participant instructions
and getting an acknowledgment that they have read, understand and agree to follow participant
instructions. In particular:
o Participants should not come if they or anyone in their household is not feeling well, have a
fever, or have been exposed to someone sick in the past week.

o For out-of-state participants, find out the county from which they are coming, and verify that

they meet state criteria for cross-state travel(https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-
state-travel) and follow additional state guidelines. This is updated every Friday, so check it before each trip.
o Participants should bring a mask and hand sanitizer that they can keep accessible during the
hike, plus all their own usual hiking stuff (water, food, clothing, sunscreen, bug dope….)
o Participants need to be certain of their ability to do the planned trip, and trip leaders should
verify the same. This is not the time to try pushing your limits and thereby take on added risk
for the individual or group.

• Limit trip size to ten participants, including leader(s).
• Collect contact information (name, email, phone number) for all participants before trip. This
information is to be used only for contact tracing.
• Drive separately to trailhead (ride sharing from a single household is OK). If trailhead parking is limited,
carpool the shortest possible distance with two people per vehicle, masks on, and all windows fully
open.
• Trip leader should consider bringing extra masks and hand sanitizer for emergencies (e.g. forgot mask,
damages mask). This is not a substitute for participants bringing these items. Section outings
coordinators may make these available to leaders.
• Communicate with your outings coordinator and check the GMC website for any updates to outing
guidelines.

Start of Trip
• Adopt an “arrive, play, leave” mentality, minimizing to every extent possible start of trip gathering
time.
• Wearing masks and standing at least 6-feet from others, give brief name introductions and repeat
“guidelines” of the hike.
o Ask to ensure everyone has read the participant guidelines.
o No sharing, food, water or equipment outside your own household members.
o If it must happen outside of your household, use hand sanitizer.
o Stay spaced out on the trail at least 6-feet apart, and preferably more.
o Minimize passing, and when you pass wear a mask, say “hello” and communicate with the hiker
about the next best move to preserve trailside vegetation and social distancing.
o Wait (spaced out) at any trail junction or place where there is any uncertainty about the route.

During Trip
• Follow above guidelines.
• Leader picks spots for breaks that are not crowded, where people can spread out without blocking the
trail and without treading on sensitive plants and soils. Consider splitting the group into two and
breaking those two groups slightly separate from each other. Avoid using shelters and picnic tables
during breaks.
• Privies on the Long Trail are open and should be used when needed. Practice regular personal hygiene
when using privies, sanitizing your hands before and after using the privy.

• Wear masks when practical and reasonable. This may not make sense when people are breathing hard
and sweating, (especially since soggy masks aren’t effective). The leader should recognize situations
when they need to mask up (e.g., when they may be forced together too closely) or when they ought
to use hand sanitizer.
• Communicate with the scout, sweep and all participants the need for hiker awareness and
consideration of others. It is respectful to put on your mask when passing others.
o When approaching another hiker to pass, slow down, give a friendly “Hello” and communicate
with hiker the next best move for passing while preserving social distancing and the trailside
vegetation.
o Step off trail when needed. In areas that don’t allow for six-feet of passing, step at a 90-degree
angle off the trail onto a durable surface, wait until the passer is gone, and retrace your
footsteps to the trail.
o Sweep should make any hikers passing from the rear aware of the remaining group up ahead.

At End of the Trip
• Ensure trip leader has contact information (name, phone, email) for all participants.
• Remind participants to immediately contact the Vermont Department of Health if they feel any
symptoms of COVID-19.
• In a gentle and kind way, encourage the group to move along and not linger in the parking lot.

After Trip
• Trip leader will send contact information for all participants to lcurrier@greenmountainclub.org to be
securely filed for at least 30 days.
• If trip leader show signs and symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care provider or health
provider immediately to request further guidance.
• Give feedback on the outing and these procedures to the outing’s coordinator.