Solo hiking in the backcountry isn't universally regarded as a best practice.


Yeah re that article yesterday, you guys recommended some trails that are extremely dangerous when they have snow on them. Which they do, lots of it. Humpback Mountain's trail for instance cross is a steep slope near its summit, with the death cliff exposure 30 yd below. When there's snow on it it's scary with an ice ax and crampons. Announcing to the world that right now at the height of the snowpack is the time to go hike up that (and many of the others that in particular Rich Smith recommended) is really quite reckless.

Ask for the crowds your chances of catching Coronavirus outside walking past someone on a trail are still infinitesimal compared to walking in somewhere to pick up takeout food. And next week we're back to 50° and wet. There will be 1/10 as many people out. So let's not close down the outdoors in some kind of purifying panic.


@3 also mentioned Granite Mountain, whose trail criss-crosses a big avalanche chute and kills people routinely.


@3 and @5 -- Yep. The article was a mix of extremely popular trails along with trails that are inappropriate this time of year (or both). If you are interested in hiking, I would avoid websites like this, as they tend to list the most popular hikes (or places that can become very popular). This can be a challenging time of year since there is still a lot of snow in the mountains. I suggest two options:

1) Lowland hikes. Craig Romano wrote a series of recent books called "Urban Trails". The one for Seattle and the East Side should have enough hikes in there to keep you busy. In there, there may be tips for finding hikes that aren't crowded. Either way, I would look at conditions on That is a double edged sword. If you don't see any reports, it might have a problem. On the other hand, if you see lots of reports, it is probably really busy. Furthermore, sometimes people do list whether it is crowded or not.

2) Snowshoe or cross country ski. Again, I would recommend a book by the Mountaineers. In there they list trips that have low avalanche danger. You still have to be careful, but if the avalanche danger is really low (or non-existent) then you are probably safe. The nice thing about hiking on snow is that you can go anywhere and stop anywhere (assuming it is safe). So, for example, if you went down to Paradise at Mount Rainier, you could wander around in the snow and picnic well away from anyone.

Either way it means doing a little research, and not trusting some random source (e. g. this otherwise excellent paper).


Whining is a Leftist Sacrament


It's a matter of degree. I saw a number of people today while running a trail here on Bainbridge Island, which is typical when we get some sun early in Spring. But I ran right by and they were singles with dogs or obvious couples who live in close proximity anyway. I don't think social distancing was compromised. I plan to keep running on Island trails by myself, but will focus on the more obscure routes (e.g., not The Grand Forest, which gets a lot of traffic).


@7 - Seems like a comment from the politics of yesterear. We're in another era now.


Oh man, these are the days concern trolls have been waiting their whole lives for.


@6 just to add, spring snow can be particularly treacherous. Boulders melt out hollows above them that you can't see, streams that had been covered deep now have fragile snow bridges. A stream like that got somebody at Paradise a few years ago. Know the underlying terrain.

Spring avalanches are also particularly unpredictable (beyond that warming is bad).


Nice to see the staff at the stranger finally got their shit together and reluctantly agreed to pull that article. It wreaked of selfish entitlement at a time when your publication should be changing the heading of the “Get out” section to “Stay the fuck home!”


My spouse works for WA state parks, we live on site at the park in park housing.

On a normal March week/weekend, there might be a small handful of disabled vets and homeless residents staying in the campground, maybe a few locals walking the dog in day use... But for the last 5 days In a row, the campground has been at capacity, day use out of parking and the on the beach, fields, and trails there are sooo many people... I mean WHOLE families, kids, grandparents, PREGNANT WOMEN... groups of 10+ teens and college spring breakers...

On top of this, the people have been dumping trash every where after rager night parties in the campground, going off trail and wrecking delicate new growth just popping up, and leaving bogus complaints about the bathrooms not having a park employee posted at all times to clean the toilets after EVERY USE. Oh yeah, and people have been raiding the TP. Hello people! If there is no way to keep people sanitary, the parks will be forced to close!!

This park has TWO EMPLOYEES on duty, most parks other than ocean parks only have a skeleton crew off season. Here, one is a ranger who has been non stop busy dealing with drunken ragers, domestic disputes, vandalism, squatting, on top of regular duties. The other, my spouse, is who is left without a paper suit or adequate protection to clean the bathrooms, showers, and cabins (that someone was using to self quarentine with covid-19 symptoms) being overwhelmed by throngs of city folks coming to our isolated town. On top of bathroom duty, my spouse also works in the booth selling passes, taking money, helping customers on the phone, blah blah lots of other park duties still.

I GET IT, the city is not a fun place to be going into all of this. If you are gonna go outside, please practice social distancing!! If you are dealing with service workers and "essential" workers, BE KIND. If you are in nature, stay on the damn trial! And if you are in the city, please reconsider going to a rural place to get away... Most of our residents are old, and many people live out here to get away from it all because of chronic health issues. All of your weekend picnics in the countryside with your friends are literally endangering my family and community.


Somewhat related:

“‘Realistically, no one should be climbing,’ says Jeremy Park, a member of the Washington Climbers Coalition’s board, who helped draft the WCC’s statement after talking with Ravits. Park didn’t come to that decision lightly—when we spoke, he’d actually just returned from a climbing trip to Index. He says it was packed both days he was there, as if it were a weekend. ‘Tuesday night, I started reading some articles and comments on local climbing groups about the small communities we impact, and the effect all this traffic has on them, and my opinion evolved,’ he says. He ended his trip early and worked with two other local climbers to write Instagram and Facebook posts encouraging climbers to stay home.”

“Park wants to climb, of course, but ‘this is just not the time to do it,’ he says. There’s inherent risk to any activity, especially climbing, and any climbing-related injuries could deplete precious hospital resources. Accidents can happen even on easy climbs, and ‘if you get injured, you’re going to take up a bed that could potentially be taken by someone else,’ Park says. With hospitals anticipating massive demand, even building a 200-bed emergency hospital tent on a soccer fields north of Seattle, it seems prudent to avoid any activity that could put you in the hospital.”


Hi Phoebe;
true, but the new 'reality' is a chosen destructive model that we don't have to continue.
The virus is not a health crisis, it is a situation we should be able to handle without breaking our economy.
It has, however, highlighted deep flaws that rot the core out of huge segments of our society.
The problems we now have are self-inflicted wounds caused by a hysterical overreaction.

City folks are shit.
And when they migrate to the country-side they bring their toxic selfish ways with them.
A good epidemiological cleansing that cut urban population by 3/4 would do this civilization a lot of good.


@7 And whining about whining is the conservative pastime... along with pretending there’s a magical group of police forcing everyone to be “PC”.

Cedar River Trail was pretty packed yesterday. While we’re at it, STOP TAKING UP THE WHOLE TRAIL WITH YOUR GROUP. Believe it or not people would like to go by you without walking on the grass and bikes need to pass on the left. Also keep your barky ass pocket pet on a leash


At the risk of sharing the opinion of "expert hikers":


If it only took 5 seconds to realize that this article was a bad idea how did it get posted? A productive activity for your remaining staff would be to self examine their own reasoning. It would be helpful if more news was written by professional journalists and not bloggers. Ask yourselves which you are. Do better or stop reporting.


Here is a helpful article idea:

What are the positive aspects of Asian cultures, whose strong sense of social responsibility has been effective at controlling outbreak? What are good ways of growing this mentality in our own communities?


@22 I agree with that. I would still say that it is a fair point to reflect on. I made to effort to follow up my frustration with something constructive.


@21 I don't want to see articles in The Stranger, or anywhere else, about the efficacy of supposed "cultural values" in fighting epidemics.

The main reason Japan, Norway, China, Germany, South Korea, Canada, and other nations have had the capacity and political will to do aggressive testing and contact tracing is that they had well-developed, adequately-funded plans in place for exactly this situation.

The reason they had those plans in place, in many cases, is simply due to the fact that they've had to manage serious epidemic threats in the recent past, most notably from SARS. It has very little, if anything, to do with "cultural values."

There are large differences in response and management between various provinces and regions and cities within single countries, all over the world. That isn't due to any supposedly cultural "strong sense of responsibility."

It's not culture, it's government priority and efficacy.

And when it comes to government in this crisis, the US is still drowning in a bathtub.


How to feed the hungry, protect health professionals, aid refugees and support service workers during the pandemic


Now you can update that WA state parks is closed to all camping because everyone did so poorly at social distancing this week, I am sure day use will follow suit. Check wa state parks website for updates


Rattlesnake Ridge is one of the most popular hikes in our area due to its proximity, low elevation, and expansive views. A lot of people are looking for something to do and the sun finally came out for a week so you would've seen this even if the initial story had pleaded for people to stay home. I elected for a neighborhood walk personally but still found quite a few people out doing the same. It looks like the rain is returning though so more people will probably take refuge once more.


Yes! Do all the things by yourself! And while you’re at it make sure no one else shows up in public spaces, too! Everyone be sure to blast their grandiose posturing and virtue signaling all over social media. The real heroes are SIX FEET AWAY FROM EVERYTHING! They’ll let you know all the ways in which you’re living incorrectly. Also to the hiker who wrote in, stop it. You’re profiling people by what they choose to wear on a trail. You do think those are “your trails.” Get over yourself. WA is beautiful. People here are often ugly.


Thank you for posting this! I'm a regular hiker. My husband and went to a less popular trail early in the morning on Saturday. On our way back down, my husband and I passed over a hundred people on the trail and almost no one tried to keep their distance. Groups of people were walking down the middle of the trail not even attempting to keep their distance. People were stopping and sitting on the side of really narrow sections of the trail so others had to walk extremely close to them. One woman was standing in the middle of the trail and refused to step aside when we politely asked her to so we keep 6 feet of distance because she wanted to keep taking pictures. I'm in the "high risk" category and almost broke down in tears because it was so awful and stressful. I love hiking and thought it was going to be smart way to get our of our apartment while keeping our distance from others. After our experience, I think Governor Inslee needs to just order all trails to be closed.

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