Sunday, March 22, 2020

CoVid-19: To Hike (or Bike or Run or Skate) or Not To Hike

I recently joined a Facebook group called San Diego Hiking Society. And while there are a lot of informative posts and beautiful photography, there's also a lot of Nextdoor type scrapping going on. The current debate rages on of whether a "stay-at-home" order allows for hiking. The answers, it appears, can vary from "yes, as long as you're social distancing" to "yes, but only in your neighborhood" to a flat "no, not ever, stay at home."
Since it's a private group, I'll refrain from sharing the comments, but you can imagine all the ways it went. And it totally sucks. Just last week I was sharing places we'd like to go before the Stay At Home order. And we did a jaunt (more than a walk, less than a hike) to a couple San Diego spots, still, before the Stay At Home order.

I have some very serious opinions, after the jump.

Let me rewind and say I've always been a rules follower. I was on patrol (crossing guard) and earned the top spot of my school. I did all the school things like student council and ASB, but eventually I learned that there are some rules that only exist for the sake of existing versus any real safety or reason besides control. And I guess, like everyone, I would like the rules to bend my way. And when they don't, I have to weigh the consequences of breaking them vs following. There's an interesting Slate deep dive on liquids on airplanes if you care to read it. So believe me when I say that I've listened to Governor Newsom, County Supervisor Fletcher, and Mayor Faulconer talk about the order.

"Everyone is required to stay home except to get food, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care, or go to an essential job. If you go out, keep at least 6 feet of distance."- Governor Newsom

"You can go outside and go for a walk. You can take your family unit, who you live with in your home together, and go to an open field or park or play." -Nathan Fletcher

But what did San Diegans do? We all flocked to the same goddamn spaces. And on the one hand, that's okay. What do people who live in densely urban areas want to do but find some respite with nature? The problem is, when everyone wants the same thing and goes to the same places, there are obvious problems.

U-T: San Diegans under stay-home order head to beach, snow as coronavirus cases climb to 159:
Under statewide orders to stay home or limit travel to prevent the spread of coronavirus, how did San Diegans respond on a sunny Saturday?
They headed to the beach, parks, the snow, and a variety of hiking spots. And they weren’t all keeping the new social distancing of keeping 6 feet apart.
Crowds could be found at Seaport Village, Mount Laguna, Iron Mountain and Cowles Mountain hiking trails and most of the city’s beaches.
And later in the article:
“Please stay at home if you do not need to go out for essential reasons such as grocery shopping, walking your dog, taking a walk with your family or for other important reasons, such as being an essential worker,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s public health officer, said.
Hey Dr. Wooten, maybe more people would listen to you if you didn't say last week, to thousands of San Diegans via the Rock Church telecast, that people who are asymptomatic can't spread COVID-19. You could've said, "we don't know, so use an abundance of caution" but you didn't, and now here we are. You are Donald Trump, and you are why only a few are taking the curve and the warnings seriously. I'm just a dumb blogger, but I've certainly written you off as any voice that I should adhere to, and that sucks, because your influence is massive, yet you haven't said the right words. You can say what is real without causing panic, in the meantime, you mince words, and it will only be a panic when it's an actual panic.

It's happening everywhere...people are upset about the amount of people flocking to nature preserves, parks and beaches, like this post from Point Reyes Books in Marin County (San Francisco Bay area) and the West Marin Feed that goes with it:

We just came back from Kehoe Beach where it was more crowded then we've ever seen it. I heard the same about Bear Valley. And downtown Point Reyes is packed and I'm sure everyone coming from the beaches will swamp it later. While I understand people need to get out and into nature, and that local businesses need business, this is not sheltering in place and increases the risk of transmission for everyone. I am so grateful for all of the checkers and workers who are on the frontlines today, making sure we can have food and services, literally putting their lives at risk. If you are coming to the park, please think about the people who live and work here, and be safe and respectful. It would be a shame to have the park closed, but what is happening now seems extremely dangerous

And *spoiler alert* the Sheriff's will be closing the National Reserve in Marin County that everyone was talking about:
"After unprecedented visitation and to slow the spread of COVID-19, starting tomorrow March 22 ... will close gates ...there will be limited access... Please follow local public health guidelines. Marin County Sheriff's Office #StayLocal #ShelterInPlace

And this is all fine and dandy for people who live in beautiful and bountiful beach areas, or mountain regions, but for those of us in urban areas, what are our choices?

Well, I'm glad you asked. Should your kids be treating this like a vacation? Absolutely not. The people swarming in groups together on the beach should be embarrassed, and there should absolutely be reprimanded or fined or whatever, unless they co-habitate, then one person falls, ring around the rosy, we all fall down. But the rest of you. You couldn't think of anything better than Cowles? Seriously? Let.Me.Help.You.

So as San Diegans, we actually benefit from the fact that developers and politicians try to tell us that we have adequate open spaces. We don't. But while we're on lockdown, we have to do with what we have. So all those little brown signs that delineate "trails"? Yeah, those are open, and mostly deserted. As we found with Tecolote Canyon. But San Diego is filled with 'finger canyons' so find your trail, and seriously, don't do the obvious...trips to Cowles Mountain, the beaches, tidepools...especially on the weekend...stay away. But if your work is ambiguous and you are pretty much on furlough or otherwise stuck at home, explore these spaces. And for fucks sake, please stop with the meetups and parties and playdates. This shit is far beyond what your American president is telling you, and until all the states follow suit with a "lockdown," even as we know it now, we're going to all be out of biz for a very, very long time.

San Diego Canyonlands

San Diego River Park Foundation 

San Diego County Parks Covid-19 Notifications

Maps of Open Space Parks and Canyon Parklands

Update: California State Parks issued this information Sunday, March 22nd.

In response, State Parks has proactively taken the following measures:

  • High public use indoor facilities -- including museums, visitor centers and cafes -- have been closed until further notice.
  • Campgrounds across the state have been closed until further notice. All current reservation holders affected by the temporary closures have received a notification from ReserveCalifornia of their cancellation and refunds will be provided. State Parks appreciates the patience of the public as it moves along this process.
  • State Park staff are reminding the public about the importance of social distancing. 
  • Cancellations of all events in the state park system until further notice.
  • No new event applications or requests to postpone already-approved events will be accepted until further notice.
  • Public facing facilities, such as restrooms, are being cleaned more frequently per recommended protocols. Additionally, employee offices and facilities are being disinfected before and after work for use by essential employees.

As of today, non-campground outdoor areas of parks, including trails and beaches, remain open. Day-use restrooms also remain open, and visitors are advised to bring soap for handwashing and to use alcohol-based sanitizers when water is not available.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thanks Rosie - this is a healthy perspective and important to think about. Especially when trying to get kids out of the house, but safe!