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Hikers told to postpone long distance hikes on Appalachian Trail due to increased Covid-19 exposure

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    PENNSYLVANIA (WPMT) — Each year, more than three million people flock to the Appalachian Trail in search of adventure.

Most use the trail for day hikes and short backpacking trips.

A few hardy souls put their bodies to the test and attempt the “Thru-Hike, ” hiking the entire trail — from Georgia all the way to Maine.

But if you’re thinking about taking the 2200 mile trek, experts say you might want to wait until next year.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, also known as the ATC, is suggesting against long distance hikes on the Trail.

“You are going to be staying and congregating in shelters where there is the potential to be sleeping next to people that you don’t know,” says Sandra Marra, the President and CEO of the ATC.

“You are going to be running into large crowds of day hikers because the trail is just busier than it is normally so the idea of being a sole person on the trail doesn’t really happen anymore.”

Marra says short hikes and day trips offer a great opportunity to get out, whereas longer hikes across multiple states can make it very difficult exercise social distancing.

And, the longer the distance you go, the more likely you are going to have to resupply in different town, which means increased exposure to COVID-19.

While hiking long distances across multiple states is not recommended because of the ongoing pandemic, Dr. Matthew Silvis, with Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center says the Appalachian Trail is still a great way to get outdoors and exercise.

“The messaging again is not don’t hike, it’s not don’t go out and tent on your own, this decision was purely made to keep hikers out of congregated environments.”

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