Trip Expectations for COVID-19 (last updated Feb 1, 2021)

Dear SYMG Travelers,

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve developed standards for Touch-free Travel that we’ve successfully implemented. We will continue to follow these throughout our trips in the backcountry until the pandemic is no longer a concern. We remain committed to safe backcountry travel by minimizing exposure to COVID-19 and will update these measures as needed per county, state, and federal guidelines. Beyond what is included below, we will discuss the additional procedures and trip expectations related to coronavirus (COVID-19) during the pre-trip orientation. We ask that all guests take these protocols and precautions seriously to protect their health, and the health of the group, guides, and staff.

The following represent some of the measures we are taking, please read these thoroughly and contact us if you have any questions:

Pre-Trip Health Screening

  • Before each trip, guides will participate in a brief pre-trip health check to make sure they are not exhibiting signs or symptoms of coronavirus.
  • Each guest will be required to sign a Declaration of Health and Exposure. If any symptoms related to coronavirus (COVID-19) are present we will work with guests to reschedule their trip.

Trip Hygiene

  • Each guest (and guide) will travel with an individualized sanitation kit including hand sanitizer. A bathroom kit (small trowel, toilet paper, and additional hand sanitizer) is recommended but not required, as guides will bring one for the group.
  • Social distancing will be practiced (<6’) throughout the trip. Guests and staff will be required to wear a face-covering while in a vehicle or indoors in the presence of others, and at all other times during the trip when physical distancing is not possible. 
  • Staff will wear face coverings when preparing or serving food.

Enhanced Sanitation

  • Following each trip, SYMG will clean the gear used, follow manufacturers’ recommendations related to the cleaning and sanitation of gear and equipment. This process will be closely monitored to ensure that each piece of gear and equipment receives the same procedure and is ready to return to the field after each trip.
  • Travelers will use individualized personal equipment as much as possible, whether their own or provided by SYMG. We are recommending that travelers bring their own sleeping bags this season, however, we can still provide these upon request. 

What do I need to do or bring for my trip in regards to Covid: 

  • Face covering (either mask or buff)
  • Hand sanitizer (enough for yourself for the length of your trip, travel size)
  • Sleeping bag liner (recommended but not required. If you are borrowing a sleeping bag from SYMG we require you to use one, either yours or ours)
  • Optional items: these will be provided for group use but we encourage guests to bring their own if preferred to minimize contact points with other guests:
    • Bathroom kit (small trowel, toilet paper, hand sanitizer)
    • Water filter or treatment (if bringing your own, you can consider something like the Sawyer Squeeze or Aquamira) 

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COVID-19 Additional FAQ’s

We are tracking questions from guests and developing a FAQ specifically to speak to the concerns that have been mentioned during recent calls to our office and we wanted to share this information with other travelers who are considering a trip with us into the backcountry this summer.

Are the National Parks and National Forest going to be open to visitors and wilderness travel?

Each National Park and National Forest that we operate in have communicated that they plan to be open for the summer season and the dates of our trips. Each of these land agencies has its own plans for implementing different phases so feel free to call our office for the latest information.

What are the counties that I will be traveling in with SYMG?

SYMG operates in four counties in the State of California: Mariposa, Madera, Fresno & Inyo Counties. For the specific guidance of each county find this resource website here. If you’re wondering which county your trip takes place in, do not hesitate to email or call our office.

What if I experience symptoms before the trip?

If you experience any signs and symptoms prior to your trip please communicate with our office and seek medical assistance.

What if I need to cancel my trip because of COVID-19 or a related reason?

Refunds will still be subject to our standard terms and conditions, which can be found online here: Terms & Conditions. We do not offer refunds outside of these terms if you choose to cancel your trip due to illness, CDC or WHO warnings, travel restrictions, quarantines or general concern. We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance to protect your trip investment. 

Graham Ottley
Born and raised in the Midwest (Iowa & Illinois), I always held a fascination for the outdoors and mountain landscapes as some “distant place” on maps. That fascination continues today but I am fortunate to have now lived and worked in the mountains for 15+ years. My first job as a guide was leading sea-kayak trips in coastal Ketchikan Alaska. After that season, I attended undergrad in the Southeast (Montreat College) studying Outdoor Education and Environmental Studies and went on to pursue my MBA. I first visited the Yosemite area during a spring break climbing trip with some buddies. I can vividly recall driving in and being completely awestruck by the beauty of The Valley, ...as well as all the great climbing : ) After college I worked as a Guide with Summit Adventure in Yosemite as well as internationally in the Ecuadorian Andes and mountains of Mexico. I enjoyed teaching outdoor education in Santa Cruz and Yosemite Valley during my off-seasons. I also worked with Outward Bound California leading youth trips and eventually worked as Program Director at their Midpines and Joshua Tree locations. In 2016, I transitioned to SYMG and appreciated the thoughtful approach to the work of guiding. I enjoy spending time with the great crew of guides that come here to work, live and play. Beyond work in the outdoors, I am a proud father of two children, Owen & Eleanor. I enjoy adventures with them and my wife Sarah not quite as far afield. While we still return regularly to visit family in the midwest, we are happy to call Southern Yosemite home.