Hikers aren’t used to spending as much time around the house as most of us are right now. But self-isolation is a necessary part of the overall plan to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

If you’re getting bored and feeling cooped up, well, you’re not alone. Here are a few outdoors-related things you can do to help pass the time indoors.

Read books: What’s on your bookshelves or nightstand that you haven’t yet read or haven’t picked up in a while? I just finished “The Great Divide: A Walk Through America Along the Continental Divide,” by Stephen Pern and am now working on a two-volume set called “The Pacific Crest Trail Reader.” And I’ve got plenty more like those.

Watch videos: In the last several weeks, I’ve watched a variety of adventure videos. High marks go to “Meru,” a nail-biting account of climbing 21,000-foot Mount Meru in the Garhwal Himalayas in India; “Six-Million Steps,” a chronicle about hiking the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail; and the classic “The Man Who Skied Down Everest.” What’s on your watch list?

Map and compass practice: A variety of GPS apps have made on-trail navigation pretty darn easy, so much so that traditional map and compass use in the wilds is becoming a lost art. That’s not good, especially when your phone screen goes blank from a dead battery. It’s time to dig out those topo maps and that Silva Ranger and practice anew.

First aid refresher: The wilderness first aid course I was going to take later this month has been postponed, so now there’s more than ample time to review my old notes and books and brush up on backcountry medicine procedures and protocols. When’s the last time you looked at your first aid manuals and considered how you’d handle emergency situations on the trail?


Review field guides: From trees, insects and birds to rocks, wildflowers and stars, if you’re like me you’ve probably got a shelf of great interpretive books. What better time than now to sharpen your knowledge on these topics, so that when you do finally get on the trail later this year, you’ll have a much keener eye. By the way, where are those binoculars?

Organize gear: Winter ended in a hurry, so maybe you need to gather up your skis and snowshoes and the rest of your cold weather kit, get it cleaned up, make repairs and store it away. As for your summer hiking and camping gear and clothing, well, there’s no time like the present to get it organized and ready to go. Put some wax on those boots, too.

Trip planning: Where do you want to hike and backpack later this year or maybe next year? Use this downtime time to make plans for the future. All the New England 4,000-footers, perhaps, or maybe the entire Grafton Loop Trail or a good chunk of the AT? The Walker’s Haute Route in Switzerland or the W-Route in Patagonia? Order the guidebooks now and start making notes.

Start a blog: Have you been wanting to write about your hiking exploits? Good. Go online, choose a domain name and a hosting plan and start your own blog. A basic setup is a pretty inexpensive and very satisfying investment in yourself. Let your creative writing side go wild, add lots of images and enjoy and share the results via social media.

Catalog photos: Putting the 30,000 or so photos on my phone and laptop in some sort of order has been a to-do list item for a long time. Are your photos in a similar state of affairs? Then you might want to get started on the task of logically cataloging your precious digital memories. I bought a 4 TB external hard drive to help with the storage task, so I’ll begin there.

Honey-Do list: When all else fails, there’s always this very important checklist of things to around the house to keep you busy. My list is pretty lengthy, how about yours?

Get outside: You don’t have to stay in the house all the time, and the latest state and federal guidelines make it clear what we’ve always known: that getting outside regularly for some sunshine, fresh air and exercise is a really healthy thing to do, especially during this stressful time of COVID-19. Per the American Hiking Society: “Always, always practice social distancing and follow the guidelines of your local government or the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), whichever are more restrictive.” Visit americanhiking.org as well as maine.gov/governor/mills/covid-19 for updates.

Carey Kish of Mt. Desert Island is the author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast and editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide. Follow Carey’s adventures on Facebook @CareyKish

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