Jay Inslee to Washingtonians: Stay Home, Stay Healthy
How the order affects hiker: stick close to home and hike with who you live with.
Update March 27: To support the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, many agencies have closed the lands they manage (see full list). These closures apply to facilities like visitor centers, restrooms, trailheads, and in some cases, trails. Some trails do remain open if users can walk to them.
We know how important getting outdoors is, and that these closures can be frustrating. Remember though, they're temporary. Thank you for understanding and staying closer to home for a short time. We got this.
On March 23, 2020, Jay Inslee issued a stay home, stay healthy order for Washingtonians. Its goal is to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Under the order, most folks will need to stay inside their place of residence unless they're engaging in essential activities. Essential activities include seeking medical care, grocery shopping, or working in an essential business.
You can also still get outside for some fresh air. According to Inslee, getting outside counts as an essential activity: "This [order] will not prohibit people from going outside and enjoying a walk on a sunny day."
If you do go for a walk, do so alone or with people you already live with. And if you're trying to decide where to go, consider this rule of thumb: if you have to drive to the trailhead, it's probably too far.
Get a Dose of Nature at Home
A stay home, stay healthy order means just that. To the best of your ability, stay home. Right now is a weird and uncertain time, but by respecting this order we can help slow the transmission of coronavirus and ease the load on hospitals and their staff, and that's the goal. Flatten the curve. The trails we love will be there for us to enjoy when this is over.
Even at home, you can still get some fresh air and a dose of nature. Here's how:
- Open a window and take a few deep breaths.
- Hang out with your houseplants; they may help relieve stress.
- If you have a yard, go out and sit in it. If it's big enough, run around in it.
- No yard? Consider running a marathon. On your balcony.
- Soak in these soundtracks or listen to some birdsong recordings
- Enjoy some nature photography. Even digital nature is better than none at all.
- Take in this 10-minute sunrise from the Glacier Peak wilderness.
- If you're missing your weekly Mailbox ascent, look online. Lots of trainers are teaching digitally right now. Take this opportunity to condition yourself for the future.
- If you hike to socialize, set up some time with a friend and have a phone call or digital catchup session. Share the view from your windows with each other, and maybe take a tour of your houseplants. Companionship is crucial at a time like this.
How to get Outside During the stay home, stay healthy Order
We know hiking is good for our overall health, but right now, it's extremely important to do the best you can to limit spread of the virus. The best way to do that is to stay inside and limit your contact with other individuals. While Inslee did not say it explicitly, now is a good time to stick to your neighborhood. Here are tips on how to do it responsibly.
- Go alone or with people you already live with. Right now, any public gathering is prohibited. Wash your hands when you get home before touching anything or anyone else in your household.
- Don't take unnecessary risks. Social distancing restrictions are in place in order to lessen the pressure on medical services. Be extra vigilant and avoid injury or the need for Search and Rescue right now -- their services are needed elsewhere. And please keep in mind that spring is a fickle season. As we saw last month, forest roads wash out, cars get stuck. No one ever plans on needing rescue or a tow.
- Observe social distancing requirements. Maintain at least six feet from others you may see on your walk and cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. When you get home, wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds. While at home, regularly clean high-touch surfaces, and don't shake hands. Obviously.
- Be pleasant if you see someone out and about. Several professions are exempt from this order (including medical personnel and security). We're all under a lot of stress during this uncertain time, and a smile can go a long way to improving someone's day.
We understand you're going through a lot right now. So are we. It's a stressful, uncertain, and scary time. But WTA draws strength from our community. Reach out to each other, get inspiration from past trip reports and hang tight. We got this.