The times are changing when it comes to social interaction.
Social norms like shaking hands, slapping high fives and giving air kisses to your best friend might become a thing of the past.
As this world struggles to make sense of and combat the Coronavirus COVID-19, measures are being taken to ensure the safety of seniors or those vulnerable to the virus as well as reducing the risk to the general population.
People have also started to practice voluntary social distancing, keeping yourself away from others by at least six feet.
It has been recommended that people avoid large social gatherings, reduce their use of public transportation, limit frequent contact with relatives and friends, start working from home if possible and use other means to reduce contact and exposure.
These deliberate measures were implemented to reduce the spread of the disease.
Hiking is one way to practice social distancing in Highland.
The city has a multitude of trails and open space to relieve the claustrophobic feeling that develops when people are cooped up in their homes too long.
The Santa Ana River Bridge hike is short and a very low impact hike that provides social distancing while appreciating nature.
The bridge is on the Yucaipa Quadrangle, in the eastern part of the city of Highland, on Greenspot Road.
The newly renovated bridge allows hikers and cyclists to take in panoramic views of the valley and mountains all at once.
Nature abounds on and below the bridge on the approximately quarter-mile hike.
Rock wrens, black phoebes, mockingbirds, small songbirds, hawks, vultures are several types of birds that can be seen while enjoying the serene landscape.
Cottontail rabbits, western fence lizards, honeybees, whiptail lizards or the occasional gopher snake can be observed near or below the historic bridge.
Local gastroenterologist Dr. Bob Evans has used the bridge as a source of enjoyment over the last 28 years.
“I like what they’ve done with the bridge today,” said Evans. “We can have the bridge all to ourselves. We don’t have to worry about traffic.”
Evans is an avid cyclist and rides across the bridge with his cycling group made up of mostly physicians. They are called the RCI.
“This is the spot, the bridge,” said Evans. “Coming here is definitely a great place to practice social distancing.
“You can ride or hike by yourself and enjoy all of this,” said Evans sweeping his arm around the air. “When it rains, you can see a torrent flowing downriver. The bridge area is scenic and peaceful.”
Going north on the bridge, there are placards that provide a brief history of the bridge and its connection to Orange County.
To Evans, the bridge has a metaphorical meaning.
“The bridge seems to connect us,” said Evans. “I’ve become close friends with the people that ride with me. It brings physicians and cyclists together to enjoy camaraderie.
“The bridge route provides exercise and fun. Using the bridge in our cycling run, the ride counteracts the burnout that physicians feel at times. It’s a joyous thing.
“Our group is small, so we are basically practicing social distancing when we ride.”
Jacob Rhodes, a junior at Yucaipa High School, was trekking across the bridge with a few friends.
“It’s pretty cool here,” said Rhodes. “Our grandpa said this used to be a two-way road. “The scenery is beautiful here.
“I could see how people use hiking to practice social distancing. That makes sense.”
Yucaipa resident Penny Lundgren was also finding her way to the bridge.
“This is a great walk,” said Lundgren. “I’m waiting to have lunch with my husband. I’ve enjoyed this bridge since 1965.
“Yes, I can imagine what people are feeling,” said Lundgren. “Hiking or riding your bike alone is definitely a good idea to practice social distancing.”
Lundgren used to ride her motorcycle in the hills north of the bridge before the Seven Oaks Dam was built.
Lundgren’s family used to attend the Stake Center in Highland.
They would travel leisurely on Greenspot Road and cross the bridge going home.
As social distancing becomes the norm, it would be prudent to seek ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Hiking is one way to reduce exposure to Coronavirus-COVID-19.
Hiking lowers blood pressure, reduces risk to heart disease, improves bone density, it lowers body fat and more.
Being outdoors can improve your mood and enhance your mental well-being.
Try a little social distancing and take on one of the local trails.
You might discover a new hobby while maintaining your health.