The politics of blaze orange and COVID masks

This past weekend Joan and I went to our local mountains for a weekend of camping, hiking, and introducing a local place to a new member of the unit where Joan works.

We enjoyed the last bit of fall color up high before we transition to the desert and donned blaze orange as it is rifle season where we hiked.

An interesting experience happened, though.  The hunters, ATVers, and anglers all wore blaze orange, and they assumed we were were “one of them” and wished us good luck on our elk hunting.

 

The hikers and mountain bikers we encountered (except for two people) did not wear blaze orange at all. They looked at us, noticed we did not have any firearms and wanted to know if we were hunting. Some of their body languages spoke loudly that we did not seem to be their demographic and were part of the “other.”

Earlier this year, I had the opposite experience at a local hardware store. I wore what I call my “L.L Bean  Yuppie” uniform of shorts, sandals, plaid button-down…and a mask.

Though Grand County mandates wearing a mask in businesses, the mandate gets loosely enforced among the customers.  Two old school rancher types loudly talked about yuppies wearing masks for no reason.  Since no other customers were in the store at the time, I’m assuming they meant me. 🙂

In both cases, the people observing us made quick assessments about potential political beliefs and ideology based on the clothing worn.

Yet, in both cases, we wore what we did for common-sense safety.

Wearing blaze orange makes for inexpensive insurance that a hunter won’t take a shot if we are in their field of vision. There is no reason not to wear it when it does not functionally impact our hiking, there is a marginal weight penalty, and there is little cost for something that improves both safety and lets us share the wild places with other users.

In the same way, wearing a mask is not about a political statement.  I don’t want to get infected with a disease that, even if I survive, it can cost me much money both in the initial treatment and the long-term cost. It’s a safety measure as well. And a pragmatic decision that does not impact my daily life at all.

And if more people followed the safety measure, perhaps a USA passport would not be one step removed from useless either.

People act to make some odd political statement with blaze orange, or rather not wearing it.

This sentiment:

Makes just as much sense as this sentiment:

From “The Hill”

Both parties, which I do not doubt, are on opposite ends of the political spectrum, have an emotional reaction that ignores facts in favor of a political statement. They are more alike than different.

One group wears MAGA hats and mocks people for simple safety measures that respect other people and safety.  The other group wears Patagonia sun hoodies and mocks people for simple safety measures that respect other people and their safety.

Let’s shit can this shit show and think more about the safety of others and respect other users.   Be it wearing masks, wearing blaze orange, or not encouraging people to travel hundreds of miles in flying sardine cans to have an #EPIC vacation during a pandemic.

UPDATE:  And it turns out those “safety tests” for flying, done by the airlines no less, are not reflective of real-world scenarios at all. Just as I saw during my family emergency.

The test assumed that all passengers wore masks and that the cabin had only one infected person. The study also did not gauge the risk of getting to and from a flight, walking through crowded terminals and queueing up with other travelers.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
9 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scott
Scott
11 months ago

It’s a troubling time. We should seek solutions to the problems in our society by working together for a common good.

Solutions free of political agendas.

At the root we are all human and civilization is built on a foundation of humans being civil.

Leadership should uplift and unite people. Being safe, courteous and considerate is as much about others as it is about ourselves.

I think the change has to start individually, in our neighborhoods, locally. Healing the divide from the bottom up.

Chris
Chris
11 months ago

What’s your feeling around marking a shelter or campsite with blaze orange? Like clothing, many shelters are neutral in color and may not stand out. I’m thinking of a dawn/dusk scenario. I guess you could hang a vest or other orange piece on the outside of the shelter?

Mike
Mike
11 months ago

Thanks for a sane write up. This tribalism stuff is trampling on rational thought.

Randy Martin
Randy Martin
11 months ago

Honestly, I find what you described as a continuation of disparity you see in Non COVID times between Hikers vs ATV/Gun types. I generally avoid areas where ATV usage is common or where people have been known to take their guns for “Target” practice. Sometimes it is unavoidable near trailheads but generally within 2-3 miles I am long past.

Jhon
Jhon
11 months ago

“Flying Sardine Cans”, Abbey all the way–I am pretty sure.
BTW Great ass article. Yes I do both and I sure as hell am NOT a hunter.
As you say. SAFETY Masks always

Beta
Beta
11 months ago

Amen. I’ve sure experienced my own low-key version of this. I hunt, but I regularly wear camo in the backcountry when I’m not hunting. For me it relates to my LNT approach; I put thought and effort into minimizing disturbance and moving quietly and unobtrusively across the landscape. As a default, I’d rather blend into the background. Not that you NEED camo to do that, but it serves the purpose. That and I’m inclined to make my gear serve double-duty. Barring the most activity-specific tools (e.g. trad rack or rifle), why buy two versions of what is essentially the same… Read more »

Stephan
Stephan
11 months ago

As an avid outdoorsman (more the Patagonia wearing type) I agree with much of what say. However as a driver of said “sardine cans” I’ll respectfully disagree. There are 44 case of reported flight related transmissions since the beginning of 2020. Even if 90% of the cases went unreported that’s still one case per 2.7 million passengers. DARPA studies show the inside of a “sardine can” with active HEPA filtration is one of the safest places to be. For the same reason I don’t agree with your one tank travel restrictions. I can travel to the far off mountains and… Read more »