We went to the desert today to go hiking. A spot not many people go to or know about prior to COVID-19, and sure enough we didn’t see anyone the entire time we were out. Not even parked cars along the route of people hiking some other trail off the main one. We were outside in the sun and wind and clouds for hours and it was amazing. It was also eerie.
From the top of a mountain we looked down at the highways and saw no cars.
We hiked for a good long while, as much of a good long hike as you can have with a four-year-old and a one-year-old who isn’t doing much in the way of walking right now and thus needs to be carried. Clean air. Fresh blooming flowers. Sage.
We collected handfuls of sage to bring the outside inside.
We drove a bit further and stopped along an extremely popular hiking through trail that also happens to have the perfect fallen tree that acts as a bench and ate our packed lunch: tuna salad with avocado and almond crackers. A couple apples. We walked a portion of the trail, just so I could finally say “I’ve walked a portion of the PCT.”
There were no hikers.
We continued to drive through to the other highway that would loop us around and back home. We finally saw someone. On a bike. An older man, certainly over sixty, most likely a prime candidate for the entire self-isolation movement. He slowed down as though he wanted to chat. We waved and mouthed “hi” as we drove through. He waved back.
This is social distancing without a couch.
And then we blew it. We were driving back towards town and saw two through-hikers who needed a lift into town. It’s a long hike into town. The clouds are coming in good now and the wind has picked up. It is very, very cold outside. These two kids need to get in out of the storm and fast. The cab of our truck is full with two adults and two kids in car seats, but our truck has a shell on it and the dog is in back.
We stop for the hikers.
The hikers have no problem climbing in back with the dog. They’re shivering. They say they want a hotel and food and they’ll go anywhere we think will take them. We close them up in the back, tell them to bang the glass if they need us to stop before we get to town. We start driving, and texting with a true trail angel to see if she wants hiker company for the night.
She’s had a strange day.
She pulls over and waits for us to get up the hill with our hikers. We pull over and ask the hikers if they still want to go to town and pay for a hotel and pay for food or if they want to go home with the world’s most epic trail angel where they’ll have showers, laundry, food, beer, and a game room all for free.
The hikers jump in with her.
We continue on our way home. We have our homemade kombucha and discuss how grateful we are to come home to a wood stove and to have spent a day together. Yes, we broke isolation by letting trail hikers ride in the back of our truck. Yes, we broke isolation by stopping to let those hikers get a much better deal for the night than a hotel would give them.
We are not learning from Italy.
My kids are perfectly healthy. I’m perfectly healthy. We are probably carriers if we have been exposed. My husband is currently, knock-on-wood, perfectly healthy. He is also immunocompromised. We risk his health more than ours when we do what we did today.
My joy at helping others could soon be tempered.
This is my greatest fear. Not that I may have compromised my husbands immune system by breaking isolation, although that terrifies me more than I know how to put into words, but that I may become too afraid to help others. And yes, it’s fine to say, just let the people who don’t have immunocompromised people in their family be the helpers. And yes, it’s fine to say, just let the people who don’t have 60+ people in their family be the helpers.
Expecting others to be the helpers seems pretty entitled.
When we returned home I saw an invite on social media to join a group for helpers in our area. A group for those who want to help and for those who need help. I haven’t yet seen anyone raise their hand needing help, and I’m grateful. I’m hopeful no one will need it.
I feel like a hypocrite.
I will wait for someone who needs eggs, then I’ll deliver to their doorstep fresh from our hens. I will wait for someone who needs rice, then I’ll deliver from our enormous Costco bag purchased before the panic buying began. I will wait for someone who needs a smile, then I’ll FaceTime with them and my goofy children.
I will do my best.
~~~That’s one hour~~~