Têra Kaia Collective
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How Coronavirus is Impacting the Lives of Outdoor Women Around the Globe

For us outdoor women, the coronavirus situation has put a big wrench in our outdoor-related activities. So, how are all coping with being stuck inside?

With the coronavirus pandemic infiltrating everyone’s daily lives and an unclear view on when it will all end, it is hard not to get down when we daydream about going on a weekend hike or climbing at our local crag. One thing we must all remember and hopefully helps provide consolation is that we are globally enduring this together.

Here are the coronavirus stories of outdoor women:

From guide company owners relying on summer tourism to college seniors to healthcare workers, we asked a few of the women in our Têra Kaia collective community to share their experiences dealing with this pandemic.

Outdoor women are taking their routine indoors due to coronavirus.

It’s interesting how normal life seems sometimes: I wake up, drink a cup (or 2) of coffee, exercise, eat. When I keep moving, filling my time with projects and new books, it’s easy to forget how weird life is. I’m out of work, I’m spending my last term of college off of campus and away from my friends, and I am unable to spend my spring at Smith Rock getting strong. But I’m trying to embrace the weird that is life right now because these are things I can’t change. Letting go of the expectations I have for myself is probably the hardest part of embracing this new way of living. It’s an experiment in self-love.

Victoria Kohner (Bend, OR)

The outdoors is a source of our mental wellness.

Climbing keeps me level. Training gives me a routine. Art lets me escape. Going outside makes me face my fears and keeps my demons away. 

I’m a Community Manager, over 300 units. People’s homes! People’s stories! People’s lives affected by COVID-19. I hear them, I see them, I’m with them, every day. I’m here to help them through it, giving of myself, my soul! Giving them kindness, understanding, feeling their financial, emotional, and physical burdens with them and loving them through it. It’s draining. I need to recuperate. I need to get outside of my head. I need my outlets. I need my grounding. I draw (escape) I train (routine). I go and climb on the weekends (keeping me level, facing my fears and keeping my demons away). I can give of myself again. I’m refreshed. I’m a suicide survivor. March 16th, 2016. It’s a place I never want to return to again. I am not selfish. I am not pathetic. I am not a child. Your words leave scars. It’s draining. I need my outlets. I need to survive.

Marta Blackwell (San Diego, CA) 

Women in the outdoor industry are seeing drastic changes to their businesses.

I run an adventure travel company in Croatia with my husband and COVID-19 could be devastating for our business this year. We had some tours booked in April that were canceled and have started seeing cancellations for May and June. Many of our friends and neighbors are experiencing the same thing – tourism accounts for about 20% of Croatia’s GDP and in Istria, where we live, it is even higher. I’m trying to remain optimistic, but it’s getting harder as this drags on.

All non-essential businesses have been closed for over a month now and the Croatian government has imposed pretty strict limitations on movement. It’s forbidden to leave our town of 1,000 people without getting permission from the local government and there are police checkpoints to enforce it.

While I’m thankful for the walks I’ve been taking through my neighborhood, it’s been hard to see the climbing crags and bike trails across the valley from my house and not be able to access them. The strict measures appear to be working though. We had five days in a row with no new cases and will be able to move freely within our county after tomorrow. There’s hope for life returning to “normal,” but it’s hard to imagine what a summer without tourism will look like here. I think a lot of businesses will struggle to survive this.

Becky Jambrović (Motovun, Croatia)
Becky Jambrović runs an adventure travel business.

We’re caught between going outdoors, and doing what is right.

The days have started to blur as they pass, I can’t really tell one from another. It’s been weeks since the mountain closed and I lost my job and at least a week and a half since I last got to go climbing. I struggle with the selfishness of wanting to be outside and doing what I love but also knowing that not only does my body need this time of rest, people I don’t even know are counting on me to put them first. It is a time to dive into physical therapy, for injuries that have been bothering me for the better part of a year. It is a time to write, and read, and bake lots of bread and bagels and cookies. It is a time to catch up with friends, both those I live with, and those who I have not seen in years. It is a time to lean in, to slow down, to listen to something outside of ourselves for a while.

Ilana Newman (Washington) 

We’re focusing on inner growth, and leaving behind old patterns.

I’m certainly, like many others, a creature of habit. I’ve been thinking a lot about the routines I’m building during this time of social solitude. Some of these habits are conscious and restorative — yoga in the blue morning light, warm peppermint tea with honey, daily cooking with my quarantine-companion. And yet there are others that scare me. Those subconscious habits that are built out of boredom and incessant scrolling. I want to think that when quarantine is over, I’ll be able to easily pick the habits I want and drop the ones I don’t. But I suppose as the old adage goes, the wolf that grows strongest is the one you feed.

Biz Young (Cincinnati, OH)

As much of a crisis coronavirus is, outdoor women can still seeing the silver linings.

I have been in quarantine mode for over 30 days. I climbed outdoors twice the week right before the lockdown began here in Puerto Rico. Still, I’m starting to miss climbing, as it’s been almost five weeks since I last touched rock.

The tropical climate on our island allows us to climb outdoors year-round. Most of us do just that, climbing in the shade through hot summers and seeking caves or overhangs in the rainy months. In fact, the last time I went this long without climbing was after Hurricane Maria, the Category 5 hurricane that tore through the Caribbean in 2017. In some ways, the circumstances of this pandemic remind me of the first months after the hurricane: life as we knew it had come to a halt, most people I knew were out of work, businesses had closed down, and there was no time or space for outdoor recreation. Survival was the main goal.

Another stark parallel between the two situations is the reaction of our local government, who is taking advantage of the crisis to squander emergency funds and operate with a complete lack of transparency. At least this time around we have power, running water and wifi.

As I reflect on my past experiences, I realize what has helped me the most is to practice gratitude. When bad things are happening, it seems counterintuitive to express optimism. It also feels wrong to ignore the gravity of a situation and the suffering of others. When I practice gratitude, however, it’s not about disregarding reality. Rather, it’s about taking stock of the positive factors that are still present and finding strength in them. Armed with gratitude, I know I can face whatever situation comes my way.

Nicole Vidal (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Nicole Vidal is keeping busy by training in her backyard.

Outdoor women are on the front lines, fighting coronavirus.

My little city of Reno is just starting to see an influx of COVID-19 patients and I honestly worry the most for the small, rural towns surrounding us. If cities like New York City are running out of resources, think about what impact this can have on a place like Mammoth or Bishop with limited resources, limited vents, and limited ICU beds. These hospitals usually fly out serious cases to Fresno or Reno and I worry there might come a time where we will not have the room to accept any more patients. 

The hospital is a hectic place right now, protocols change daily as we try to figure out how to handle an influx of COVID-19 patients and it affects everyone in the hospital. Our managers are working tirelessly to ensure our safety and I am thankful that we still have access to proper PPE. I’ve talked to several of my nursing friends who work in different states who do not have the same access to proper PPE and are in direct contact with these patients. I am proud and excited to be a nurse in these times. I love what I do and I am so proud of the role I get to take on in these times. 

Hannah Hall (Reno, NV) 
Hannah Hall is putting her job in the hospital first.

As women of the outdoors, we’re all in this together.

Whether you’re on the front lines, or simply staying home to stop the spread you’re not alone. Here are a few helpful resources regarding Coronavirus and COVID-19:

Lauren Breitenbach

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