There is great weather, but many national, state and local parks are closed. So, we're all a bit desperate to go outside.
One local hiking expert has some tips for enjoying the great outdoors with the new social distancing guidelines and rules in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Author Craig Romano has hiked hundreds of miles, written dozens of hiking guides, and is just as frustrated with the gated parks as everyone is, but he says you can get outdoors without getting quarantine-shamed.
Tip #1 right now is this: "Absolutely stay local,” Romano said. “There’s no need to get in your car and drive very far.”
His other tips are as follows:
Try rail-trails if you have one nearby. They're wider so they’re easier for social distancing.
Make sure the spot you have in mind is open. Do online research; closures are changing daily and today's information may not hold up tomorrow.
Go outdoors early in the morning. This can help you avoid crowds.
Be ultra-considerate of others. "When you meet other people on the trail, in the park, really make an effort to pass them carefully, safely. Make sure you have that six feet distance,” Romano said.
Go solo or with one family member. No groups.
Take care of your restroom needs before leaving the house. Even if a park or trail is open, it’s likely that all facilities are shut down, he said.
Mind your hands. "Don't touch anything when you're in the park — don't touch railings, things like that. It's really important."
And don’t be a pandemic polluter. “This is so unfortunate that I need to mention this, but there's been an uptick in a litter, even what I'm calling the COVID-19 litter — gloves, handi wipes,” said Romano. "Really, if you pack it in, pack it out. Take that litter with you."
And above all remember — our beautiful Pacific Northwest places aren't going anywhere. And if we work together, we'll all be able to visit them again soon.
"It's really encouraging that our curve is flattening here in Washington because we have taken this seriously,” Romano said. "So when we start opening things up, we might be the first to go out there and play!”