As we continue to navigate the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, we at Backcountry Journeys (BCJ) understand the decision about when to begin traveling again is a personal one. We write today to encourage all of our guests to carefully consider for themselves when that time might be right.
We want you to know that what matters most to us is that you feel comfortable when you do choose to travel with us once again. We realize that many factors come into play here, some are within our control and some aren’t.
While it is still very much not “business as normal,” we are actively looking towards how traveling with BCJ might look in 2020, and beyond. Our hope is that we can do so, when the time is right, enjoyably and safely.
Below you’ll see the extra precautions we’re taking if, and when, we can run our Photography Tours & Workshops. We hope these added measures help you decide when the time is right for you to travel again.
Backcountry Journeys continues to actively monitor and will implement guidelines recommended by health officials, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) when we once again begin running our Tours & Workshops.
While our tours generally do not include a great deal of equipment and gear sharing, we will be implementing increased cleaning and sanitizing practices, per CDC guidelines, on anything and everything used during our tours. This applies to any and all communal and shared workplace spaces, any trip-supplied gear, and on vehicles (if transportation is provided by BCJ*).
*Please note that for the safety of our guests & guides transportation may not be provided by BCJ – so on some of our trips guests may need to secure their own transportation in order to properly social distance. In other words, you might need a rental car instead of riding in our vehicles.
All items used in conjunction with any Wilderness-Camping Tours, including (but not limited to) tents, sleeping pads, cooking utensils, and any associated gear will receive increased, and intense cleaning and sanitizing.
Guests will be required to bring any face-covering they prefer and their own hand sanitizer. Backcountry Journeys will have a supply of both on hand in case anyone should forget theirs.
Backcountry Journeys guides will complete a self-health check before every trip, including checking their temperature and considering any symptoms. Any guide or guest who has been in close contact with someone known to have COVID-19, or who has experienced any flu-like symptoms (cough, fever, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, body aches/chills, the recent loss of taste or smell) within 14 days of the scheduled trip departure, will not be permitted to join a tour.
DURING TRIP PROCEDURES
We will do our best to ensure that individuals’ gear and baggage is handled only by its owner and that items are not passed around or shared.
Physical distancing (minimum of 6 feet) will be practiced unless direct staff/guest interaction is essential, in which case both the staff and guest will be required to wear face masks, if able.
Hygiene, as always, will be stressed. Washing of hands well, and often, will be encouraged and expected of all guests and staff. Hand sanitizer will be available at all times. Each guest will be responsible for the disposal of personal tissues, baby wipes, sanitizing wipes, or any other item of biohazard concern.
While we typically eat many meals together in restaurants, we will make some small changes to this going forward. Expect your trip to incorporate more picnics, and breakfasts on-the-go (when possible), in an attempt to limit group gatherings at indoor restaurants. We will choose outdoor seating, and limit the number of people at each table, when possible. Our guides are certified in food handling safety, and for 2020 this training will be enhanced to include pertinent information on CDC & WHO safety guidelines. Guides will wear masks and disposable gloves at all times during any food prep. Guests will not be allowed to help with these activities.
If guides or guests experience any flu-like symptoms during a trip they will be physically distanced from the rest of the group, and from any community spaces or items. Backcountry Journeys will consult with the local managing agency for guidance with suggested management of the situation and potential evacuation of the affected individual(s). If a guide is in the position of providing direct care to an affected guest, he/she will also be physically distanced from the rest of the group for the remainder of the trip.
As previously stated, increased cleaning and sanitizing efforts will be applied to all communal spaces and to all trip gear returning to any Backcountry Journeys’ warehouse.
All guides and/or guests, who develop flu-like symptoms 14 days post-trip will be asked to contact Backcountry Journeys to inform us of their symptoms. If informed that anyone associated with a trip has experienced any flu-like symptoms, we will contact all other staff and guests from that trip to inform them.
While we are hopeful to begin running trips again soon – each departure will be carefully evaluated as to whether or not it is safe to run. We are committed to making these decisions carefully and with the participation of the places we are visiting.
This dynamic situation, which continues to progress, requires much care and thoughtfulness from everyone. Backcountry Journeys is working hard to put things into place so that we can bring our best to you. While there will be some cosmetic differences to our tours, as indicated above, please know these changes are being made with care and consideration towards the well-being of everyone involved, and that our core product will be the same.
We hope to see you all again, soon, smiling behind your cameras out in the field on one of Backcountry Journeys Photography Tours & Workshops.
Kenton Krueger has spent the past several years guiding backpackers, hikers and photographers into the wild places of the American West such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Katmai, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands National Parks, as well as internationally in Costa Rica & Brazil. In addition to backpacking and camping, his adventures include rock climbing, exploring the slot canyons of southern Utah, mountain biking, and bagging 14ers in Colorado’s San Juan Mountain Mountain Range. Kenton is a trail runner, former pilot, and spent roughly five years writing and photographing for the award-winning Omaha World-Herald newspaper, out of his hometown, Omaha, Nebraska. Kenton looks forward to utilizing his years of trip leading and guiding experience, combined with his passion and experience behind the lens, to provide memorable and unforgettable experiences at the wild places we will visit together.