Outdoor Activities and Skills While Practicing Social Distancing

Capturing the sites of the park


Following up from my last post What Outdoor Adventure can you do During a Stay-at-Home Order. I wanted to share some of the different activities that I have been doing to keep within the guidelines of the order and to keeping with social distancing. 

Over the last few weeks, I have used a common-sense approach with my activities which reduces the risk of personal injury and following the guidelines of social distancing. I started by setting a routine to conduct my outdoor activities and selected times which I felt were non-peak times that would limit my exposure to others.  This routine also seems to work well with my remote work schedule and my family. I have been able to do the following:

  •  Running
  •  Hiking
  •  Biking
  •  Rucking
  •  No gym workouts
  •  Social distancing volunteer project with Pocahontas State Park 
  •  Epic adventures indoors with a mountain film festival. 
  •  Made a music playlist for road trips
  •  Learn to use a new GPS
  •  Explored off-trail
  •  Learn how to use Caltopo
  •  Repair a mountain bike
  • Avenza Maps and What3Words webinar 
Best of all that none of the activities cost me anything. I either had the equipment or it was free like the movies, music, and apps that I downloaded. 

I am lucky to live next to Pocahontas State Park, which is an 8000-acre urban state park located 20 minutes south of Richmond Virginia. There have been a couple of nice weekend days I felt we were close to seeing the park close due to a lot of park users making it hard to keep with the social distancing. 

While all the regularly scheduled group volunteer projects have been canceled as a precaution against COVID-19, the park is offering an opportunity to continue volunteering at the required 6 feet of distance. 

Using an app called iNaturalist, allows volunteers to document plants, animals, and fungi in the park. Any time spent documenting observations at Pocahontas State Park can be counted as volunteer hours.

The screen capture below is to the .iNaturalist website which you can load your observations there if you used a camera or you can update your observations with more details. 




iNaturalist app
Screen capture of the iNaturalist website




iNaturalist app
My observations this week


The app is fun and easy to use. What is really cool is that once you take a picture the app will give you suggestions of what your observation could be and lets you compare your picture with what is in the data library. Once you upload your observation other iNaturalists users will either give you other suggestions or that you are correct in your observation. Once it has been ID by other users and you have all the required information it will be marked as research grade.

There are projects all over the world that you can be apart of and I am sure you can find something in your area. Who knows what you can find in your own yard or neighborhood. This is a great tool to learn to ID plants and animals.


I was able to catch a free webinar put on by Avenza Maps and What3Words. I have been using Avenza Maps for over a year now and I really like it. I am sure there are other mapping and navigation apps out there but I really like the fact that I can build and customize my own map. I feel this fits my needs better than what a navigation app might provide.

Avenza Maps and What3Words have partnered together and provided a different way to find a point on the map. Each 3 meter by 3 meter square on earth has 3 words assigned to it. An example is Year.Blue.Street would be a 3 meter by 3-meter point. For me to tell you my location or a place that I need to go to you would use 3 words instead of providing some form of Lat/Long. The 3 words are easier to communicate. Avenza Maps has What3Words as a selection when choosing a Lat/Long type. To learn more about What3Words head over to their site

I used Avenza Maps to navigate and explore some interesting features that I had found in a layer of Caltopo.

Avenza Maps app
Avenza Maps App




Pictured above is a screenshot of Avenza Maps. I am using a 2016 USGS Quad as my base map and you will see that I have added my own custom icons and observed points. What is cool is that I can add pictures to each point while I am out in the field and I can add notes to the point. This can be done in airplane mode with no WiFi or internet. You can navigate and add custom layers while offline.

The points that I mapped here are pits or wells that I found in a layer of Caltopo which is a LiDAR layer. In the picture at the top of the post, you will see what one of those pits or wells looks like. It has been cool to learn how to use the Caltopo layer and go out and find what I saw in the map layer. I have a lot more locations to explore and learn the history of the people that lived on what is now a State Park.

Your outdoor adventures and skills don't have to be put on hold. You just have to think about it differently. Please leave a comment on what you have been doing while social distancing or under a stay at home order.

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