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A car drives through the mountains near Marble on Aug. 1, 2019.
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So, this was the summer you planned to hike the Colorado Trail / reunite with old friends for a lakeside camping trip / attend every craft beer festival in the Rockies. I feel your pain.

Editor’s Note

This editor’s note was first published in this year’s Summer Getaways, an annual magazine from The Denver Post focused on outdoor recreation. Find more Summer Getaways stories here.

The coronavirus pandemic has upended our summer vacation plans much as it did the rest of our lives this spring. If you’re like me — and I bet you are in this way — you’re looking forward to some relief, to getting away from the same four walls for at least a few days.

We originally conceived this edition of Summer Getaways as the “Share Your Love” issue. Knowing how we all enjoy exploring Colorado, we aimed to share off-the-beaten-path trips to help ease overcrowding at tried-and-true destinations. (I’m looking at you, Hanging Lake, Maroon Bells.)

We still want you to explore lesser-known corners of the state this year — for your sake as well as the environment’s. Still, trips to the more far-flung destinations in these pages may need to sit on the back burner for now. They’ll still be there in the months to come and the lure will be all the greater.

No matter where you go and what you get up to, please practice Leave No Trace principles. They’re easily put into action and are proven to reduce our impact on the environment, be it a local park or backcountry wilderness. They are:

  • Plan ahead and prepare.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Dispose of waste properly.
  • Leave what you find.
  • Minimize campfire impacts.
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Be considerate of other visitors.

Three of these principles seem particularly important this summer: planning/preparedness, respect and consideration.

At a time when rules and regulations change in an instant, you might wonder whether planning is necessary. Truth is, plans are more important than ever. So, take time to research your intended destination. What are local health and safety guidelines? Is the campground open? If yes, are the restrooms open? Are fires allowed? If the parking area at the trailhead is crowded, what’s your Plan B?

Show respect and consideration for yourself, other adventurers, wildlife and the environment. Practice physical distancing. Vacation with members of your household or isolation group. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth around other people, and be the first to give others adequate space.

If you’re sick, stay home.

Also, show respect and consideration for search and rescue crews, first responders and medical workers by keeping activities within your ability range. This isn’t the summer to climb Capitol Peak if you’ve never summited Quandary. Or to try a multiday backpacking trip if you’ve never been in the backcountry. Or to bomb a downhill when you’re used to pedaling the bike path near your home. There’s no need to put search-and-rescue teams at risk nor to strain local health care systems.

I know, I know. You just want to have fun. To not worry for a few days. Me, too. So, let’s do it. Let’s get out there. Explore! Adventure! Discover! Please enjoy the wonders of our state, just do so responsibly.

TL;DR: Get out and enjoy your summer while being respectful of yourself, others and the environment.

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