Like me I imagine there are many of us all sitting back (because standing is not an option with the weight of the world on your shoulders right?) and asking yourself ...
"Is this for real?"
What a year of surprises, shocks, twists and turns.
There is light at the end of the tunnel,
We need out and we need out soon ...pretty please!
So I guess the big question is when? Well truth be told I am not even sure the guys in charge, the decision makers, movers and shakers are 100% but here is what we do know. It will happen - and that is what we need to keep in mind. Despite growing frustration amongst both visitor and adventure providers, we all want to see just around the corner!
However ... are we all looking at the same future?
2020 has happened and to move forwards there is a strengthening awareness that we must release the now, increasingly obvious, outdated tourism strategies we have adhered to for too long!
~clustering for the same trails and ~summit queuing (or bickering)
~carelessly throwing down rubbish on popular paths (Llanberis Path, Snowdon) ~over crowding local hot spots.
At the same time the national park and councils need to continue to improve the services to do their bit- its all very well towing and clamping but maybe invest some money into a reasponable parking option with a reliable sherpa bus. Draw the crowds down through the villages to encourage wealth distribution. Overall lets take a more friendly approach to the enjoyment of our national park.
So, with light at the end of the tunnel (because I strongly believe we are building a better understanding of a nicer future for our mini-beasts) what did me and mine do to cope with lockdown and how are we adapting to a more restrictve future? For one ... we spent alot, and I mean ALOT of time on the steps. Ascending the steps and descending the steps. I counted alot of steps, used handfuls of buttons and logged 1000's of meters ... confused??
In order to retain sanity and physical fitness, to make sure I wasn't huffing my way up mountains or roly polying down when I was allowed back to work, I joined in on the various social media steps challenges. In the space of 2 weeks isolation I completed 5 day Wainwright race challenge, Welsh 3000s in 24 hours and Morocco 3 peaks totalling 13, 857m of step ascents! My knees hurt for the first time ...ever! Brutal.
However, eventually we were allowed to slowly start guiding again. The next conundrum was how do we, as guides and outdoors folk, feel about the new working conditions, PPE and structures?
Personally, I love being outside and love my job enough that if a client needs me to wear a mask to help them feel safer and more comfortable that is not a problem! I am so pleased to be able to guide and share the mountains with folk that have spent months confined to their homes and doorstep adventures. Do I feel the mask or gloves will make the difference to my health and safety, no is my honest answer but that doesn't mean I am right. It is just my own take on information.
What I can say as FACT is I now collect no less than 3 but often many more masks of all colours, fabrics and styles carelessly dropped on our mountain paths, single plastic gloves now lay curled around plants or floating in the streams. Sad times for our beautiful, recently rested mountains.
You are not headed into the hills to restrict your intake of fresh air surely? Might it not be a better option to leave them in the car?
We had this time to genuinely sit back, look at our lives, habits, work and moral ethics and choose for ourselves what is important going forward. I, like so many, felt a slight buzz of excitement at the prospect of a more enlightened society. One where consideration and compassion for each other and our planet might take precedence. I still feel hopeful that more good will come from all this, it has too. For many like myself the only direct affect the virus has had is quieter working months, staying home more and a few more pounds around the hips. There are those that have suffered far more considerably and I don't presume to discount that in any way.
But can we move on now?
Can we do that and do it right ... hold onto the positives and slowly rebuild and transform the negatives.
I say YES