Hiking in the time of Covid-19: North Bend locals ask for more thoughtfulness

I have fond memories of attending Seafair as a child.  My Grandmother lived five blocks from Lake Washington Blvd and less than a mile from the hydroplane pits at Stan Sayres Memorial Park.

It was thrilling to spend the first weekend in August navigating the traffic and crowds to see the Blue Angels fly overhead and hear the “Thunderboats” roaring in circles on Lake Washington. We went, in part, for my “Nanny” who was afraid of the crowds and extra activity. To her, and likely everyone else in the general vicinity, it was less fun and more of an inconvenient hassle. 

Sign place near I-90 exit 32 warning hikers of Rattlesnake closure

Because of the horrible parking and traffic, you spent two days either housebound or making huge detours to do something as simple as grocery shopping.

Cars flooded the neighborhoods to park, making the narrow streets nearly impassible. The land along Lake Washington is public and was flooded with hundreds of thousands of people picnicking, swimming and drinking. Motorboats formed a mile-long party flotilla. It was loud, messy and fun.

Locals put up with it because it was merely two days a year and so, tolerable. People surrounding the Puyallup Fairgrounds, downtown Issaquah during Salmon days or near Gasworks park on the 4th of July probably can relate to the short-term pain.

Photo credit: Art Farash. Road closure near Rattlesnake Area

Now… imagine all of that happening for months on end, during a global pandemic, and you have a little taste of how North Bend locals living near hiking trails feel.

We get it. We live in a beautiful place. We’re extremely lucky. We even understand the need to get outside during quarantine. We feel it too.

But guys, do you all have to go to the SAME trail, and park illegally or disregard CLEARLY marked signs advertising which trails remain closed?

Under normal circumstances it is difficult to navigate the rush of hikers to all the trailheads in the area, but we endure and understand the benefit to our local businesses. However, now there are fewer positives from the rush and the negatives are amplified by the fear of the unknown.

Photo credit: Art Farash

Think about how you would feel if you lived here.

Before this writing, we asked local residents what they would say to those flocking to our neighborhoods to hike. The tone of the responses was generally quite angry. This is what we heard over and over again.

  • Pack out your garbage and dog poo.
  • Be kind to the environment
  • Don’t block our driveways, or the roadway.
  • Respect our property.

And overwhelmingly

  • If you can’t park in an open parking spot at a park or trailhead, find a different trail.

We would like to respectfully request that you have a ‘Plan B.’ A quick search on the Washington Trails Association website yields 100 hikes in the North Bend area. A few are still closed, but many are now open.

We ask that you disperse a bit. Aren’t those three hikes getting a bit dull?

As of this writing Rattlesnake is still closed. Please respect the people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods and DON’T crowd their living space by parking by their driveways and walking past their kids playing in the yard. Honor our space and go somewhere else if a trailhead is closed or crowded.

We are you. You are us. We need each other. In the good times you help support our local businesses and we help if you lose a dog or have an accident on the trails.

Being indoors all the time stinks and some of our trails are now open. All we ask is a little extra care and awareness of the those that call the Snoqualmie Valley home.

Photo credit: Art Farash

Comments

  1. Gregg Sargeant says

    This is nothing new for those of us living a little further East at Snoqualmie Pass. Please respect the community you are visiting.

  2. For the safety of your fellow hikers, please leave your dog at home. If it saves just one life, isn’t it worth it?

    • Why is leaving your dog at home saving a life? That makes no sense. Now, finding lesser used trails for you and your dog to hike would be a great idea. It would be wise for everyone to try and find lesser used trails regardless if they have dogs or not.

  3. Natalie T says

    Thank You Melissa! There are so many who simply don’t care or who don’t take the time to think about others or our environment. I have the desire but no reason to be in the North Bend area right now. For this reason I wandered to the Cowiche Canyon (Yes folks there are trails on the other side of the pass) for beautiful wildflowers instead last weekend. I’ll be back but not until this insanity calms.

  4. Todd Bradley says

    We can control crowding in restaurants but not in our wild areas? Access to these trails is more important than restaurants to me. It looks like herd science and instagram has trappled our access to the vast public resources in Washington…very sad and I expected more from smart people.

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