To Mask or not to Mask while hiking Table Mountain?
So I heard Judge Dennis Davis talking about his walks up Table Mountain a couple of time a week. He socially distances himself from his companions, and wears a mask. It's extraordinary to him how many people on bikes or on foot are without masks. Generally of the 25 - 40 age group. They couldn't care less for him or anyone else.
I know what he means, though I don't have the balls, or his distinct kind of jovial gravitas to ask, or shout, as he says he does, for them to put one on.
I just know that you'll get arrogant glares back at you, which Davis says regularly happens. As if you are asking for something outrageous.
But what does the science say about wearing masks?
I was amazed to hear that there is not enough definitive research, according to researchers at the Oxford Center for Evidence Based medicine, for them to say that masks make any difference - apart for those health workers exposed on the front line.
That being said, there is no evidence that they don't make a difference. We simply don't know because - and this is also amazing - no-one is prepared, they say, to put the kind of money down to undertake research needed to get closer to a definitive answer.
Of course, they'll be scientists with contradictory views, like what researchers at Stanford say.
So should we wear masks while hiking on Table Mountain?
I'd say go with Stanford. At a time when still so much is not known about SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, not wearing a mask is a statement of bald, dangerous certainty. To an unscientifically-minded person like myself, and knowing the basics of how the trajectory of spray works, it seems like common sense to wear one. Donning a mask also demonstrates communal care. And if it saves others from the kind of anxiety moments in history like this can engender, it's the least one can do to help.
As for the hiker pictured above, Melton Rasimphi Makhumisani, his mask takes 1st prize. Though not for the most outrageous mountain attire. That still goes to the dude and his shoes that I came across on Platteklip earlier this year.
The mask's probably safer. And don't get me going on hiking shoes ...!
Davis' remarks on Table Mountain can be found here.
More on what the Oxford people say about the efficacy of masks here: