White Mountain National Forest Closes Popular Hiking and Day-Use Areas

Well, it was too good to last. Our local hiking areas are now shut down for use. We were at Lincoln Woods last week and didn’t encounter too many people on the trail or in the parking lot. That location you quite often can’t even get into the parking lot during the summer. During the week it didn’t seem bad. I know on the weekends we were seeing a lot of people driving up from Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire to get out.

My personal opinion is that I don’t like this move. When we went to Lincoln Woods we drove across the Kancamagus Highway and I didn’t see any of the locations listed with a lot of cars in them. We still only have 30 confirmed cases in this county and no deaths. While it’s great to keep people from other parts of the state and Massachusetts from possibly bringing Corona Virus up here, it’s not fair to the people who live up here who can use these trails as a way to get some much-needed exercise. I feel almost like we’re in some social experiment of how much they can deny us until people start going insane. I know that’s not the truth; I know Corona Virus is quite real. I’ve long maintained, though, that we can’t just continue to live in isolation until (if and/or when) a vaccine is discovered. Yet we are being forced to be prisoners in our own homes, with no idea if we’ve had the virus or not because no one is able to get a sufficient number of tests for people.

We’ve been able to get out up until now and not had a problem with any of these areas overloaded with people. I will obey the law, but I don’t have to agree with it. This is where I am a bit of a Libertarian. I do think all of this is quite a bit of overreach. If people want to choose to go on these trails and possibly expose themselves to other people, that’s their business. I don’t believe in forcing other people to go to work and expose themselves, but I can make my own decisions about what’s best for me, thank you very much.

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  1. A little historical perspective.

    In January of 1918, during the last year of World War I, a virulent strain of influenza first emerged in a U.S. Army installation (Ft. Riley, KS), where American soldiers were training and otherwise getting ready to be shipped out to France, where they were badly needed to bolster the Allied forces battling the Imperial German forces in the northern region of that embattled country. Although the Army and civilian doctors who treated the first sick doughboys didn’t know it yet, this was the first emergence of what history calls “the Spanish Flu.”

    A few cases became hundreds, then thousands, then millions. A local outbreak of the flu, spread by unwitting and hapless GIs, civilians they had contact with, and so on and so on, soon became an epidemic. And because the flu went where our soldiers went – to Europe, on crowded troopships, it, too, ended up “over there.” And sure enough, right in the tail end of what up to that time was the bloodiest war in history, a deadly pandemic began. (Luckily for the Allies, the worst of it occurred after the Armistice, otherwise, history might have been…different.)

    The “Spanish Flu” pandemic lasted from 1918 to 1920. 500 million people were infected. The death figures are staggering: the lowest figure I have seen is 17 MILLION. Other estimates say the pandemic killed 50 million. The highest number bandied about is a whopping 100 million men, women, and children.

    I bring this up because all this talk of “overreach” and “let’s get back to normal” talk…well, it was said then, too. Of course, we didn’t have the Internet, TV, or even commercial radio. But we did have newspapers, and I’m sure most public libraries have archives (either digital or microfilm) where people can read what was said then.

    In the ’18 pandemic, the U.S. also had social distancing, though it was not called that. And for a while (during the first wave) people went along with it, although there were holdouts then, too. (Luckily, Fox News wasn’t around, or else they’d have accused Woodrow Wilson of creating the flu, or blamed Spain for it.)

    But then, just as now, people got tired of being self-quarantined. So after the “first wave” of the virus peaked and the curve flattened (just in time for the end of the war), restrictions were eased so people could celebrate the end of the shooting war.

    Unfortunately, that’s when the second wave of the flu hit, and because so many people complained about being cooped up in their homes and not being able to go out and have fun, everyone and his/her cousin were out and about, huzzahing the end of the War to End all Wars and getting infected by the virus. And…of course, hospitals were soon crowded with the sick and…of course…the dying.

    Incidentally, the Spanish flu was caused by H1N1, the same as the 2009 swine flu pandemic.

    In all, there were THREE waves of the flu between 1918 and 1920. In the United States alone, 500,000 people died.

    We’re still in Wave One in this pandemic.

    Food for thought.

    • And unfortunately, there is no way to stop this virus, the same way they could not stop it then. Even if there eventually is a vaccine (and I have my doubts) it’s a year or more away. People in this country cannot afford to be out of a job for that long. Businesses cannot survive that long. If you’re in a situation where you can see staying home closed off from the world for that long, you are truly in a place of privilege. I believe it’s not going to happen and we are facing a new normal where this will pop up every year like the flu and take people just like the flu does. I say this as someone who has a son who is on the list of the vulnerable, but sitting in the house waiting to die is no way to “live”.

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