2021 COVID-19 Update

February 25th, 2021

I never imagined that this pandemic would last as long as it has. I never imagined that there would be more active COVID cases at the start of the 2021 season than there were during the 2020 season. I never imagined that the business I worked so hard to build (and love so much) would be the antithesis of a safe environment during this global pandemic. I also never imagined that wanting to adhere to public health guidance would make me the skunk at the garden party. But here we are.

I am monitoring the COVID situation closely, and should cases continue to decrease and public health guidance change, I will be thrilled to swing open the doors. Thrilled. I cannot express how much I, like everyone else, miss the days before COVID. But as of right now, hikers should not count on the Quarter Way Inn for lodging, resupply, or sending resupply boxes during the 2021 season. There are plenty of alternatives nearby.

Keep in mind that making a decision for yourself as an individual who is in control of your own behavior relative to your own risk assessment and tolerance, is much different than making a decision as a hostel that cannot control the behavior of hundreds of guests. If our environment was different – with more individual lodging units, bathrooms, and better ventilation - my calculations might be different. But relying on folks to wear masks and social distance – when that is seemingly not the norm on trail – seems like a struggle with no good outcome. My reputation as a welcoming and homey place would certainly vanish. Why would a skunk even try to host a garden party?

People will say I am living in fear, and that’s fine. I’d rather be accused of that, than of being flippant about the 500,000 (and counting) Americans that have already died of COVID. They’ll remind me that, “There was not a single case of COVID on trail last year,” and I’ll reflect on what I know about incentives and also wonder if that means that mitigation measures worked. They’ll say, “The trail is the safest place to be,” and I’ll agree, but also know how much of thru-hiking happens off trail and elbow-to-elbow with other people in tight quarters. They’ll say “She wasn’t there for hikers,” and I will try to remember that I made my decisions with the greater good in mind.

I sincerely hope that I am being overly-cautious, that everyone on and around the Appalachian Trail stays healthy, and that at the end of the pandemic I will have to wonder if the sacrifice was worth it.

Happy Trails, Everyone.

Tina

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Ceres, VA 24318

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