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Stories to Keep You Outdoor-Inspired in Our New Normal

Our weekly roundup of the best outdoor stories capturing and inspiring the spirit of adventure during the days of social distancing.

Visit Canyonlands From Your Living Room

While the national parks remain open—with entrance fees waived—closed facilities and cautions against traveling far from home may make a visit to our park system difficult. But you can still take a tour of the park you’ve always wanted to visit right from your sofa. Google Earth has powered virtual tours of 32 parks, including Canyonlands, the Badlands, and Denali. [Insider]

Is Bookshelfing the New Buildering? 

You may have heard of the recent urban climbing trend known as buildering—scaling the exteriors of buildings. But have you caught wind of bookshelfing, cabineteering, or a first stairway ascent? Climbers under quarantine are getting pretty creative, sending interior features of their homes to stay in climbing shape, but mostly to avoid going nuts. [Rock and Ice]

Escapism on the Page

When you just can’t even with this outbreak, you might consider turning to a good book. Bestselling authors—from Elizabeth Gilbert to Erik Larson—have recommended the reads they turn to when they’re in need of a little comfort on the page. Skip the news for an afternoon and order up one of these reads as an eBook to cozy up with right now. [NY Times]

Coronavirus Is Good for the Climate

Some have joked that climate change should hire the coronavirus’ PR firm. But as it turns out, the outbreak could actually be helping to address the climate crisis. Reduced air pollution, cleaner water, and fewer greenhouse gas emissions are a few of the environmental benefits we’ve already seen. Experts are also wondering if the pandemic experience might even teach governments how to come together to address global catastrophic issues like climate change. [NBC News]

NASA Wants You to Design a Robot

If you’ve been wishing you could go somewhere very, very far away from earth right now, you’re not alone. NASA has its sights set on a 2024 lunar landing, and plans to send the first woman to the moon’s surface, along with RASSOR, an excavating robot. The space agency is asking everyone with a little too much time on their hands for help brainstorming one of RASSOR’s feature. If you’re feeling inspired by the new season of Westworld, then this is your time to design. [CNN]

A Nature Soundtrack for Your New Home Office

Maxed out on Discover Weekly and your usual work mixes? Why not type emails to the woodsy soundtrack of the Ninepipes Wildlife Refuge in western Montana? The Owl Research Institute has set up a live cam of Great Horned Owls there—not to mention 76 other wildlife cams—so you can listen in 24/7 and see what those birds of prey are up to between virtual meetings. [Explore.org]

A Mountaineer’s Wise Words on Mindfulness

Canadian skimo champ and La Sportiva ambassador Kylee Toth uses mindfulness training to improve her race game. When she’s, say, crossing a sketchy crevasse, positive self talk helps her stay cool headed and confident. Swap the crevasse for the pandemic, and Kylee argues a little mindfulness can go a long way in helping us all remain calm right now. [La Sportiva]

When Plan A(dventure) Falls Through

With bluebird resort days and spring desert or beach trips all but wishful thinking now, we’ve put together a plan B to help you get your nature fix—without putting yourself or anyone else at risk. From escaping to the backcountry to getting your gear closet in order, there are still avenues to adventure right now. [Explore]

If All Else Fails, Here’s Your Goat Fix

Sometimes, we just need to turn off our brains and stare at a live feed of baby animals. Here at Backcountry, we’re especially partial to easing our worries with adorable footage of our favorite animal: the goat. Thankfully, Beekman 1802, a goat farm in upstate New York, has a Baby Goat Cam that can allay all your pandemic fears. You’re welcome. [The Farm at Beekman 1802]