Talk about unintended consequences. Thousands of miles of new trails have been built in backyards throughout Washington State in the month of March thanks to antsy hikers cooped up at home. Due to Stay at Home orders during the Covid19 Pandemic, nearly all state and national forest trails in the state have been closed. But thousands of hikers across Washington refused to give up their favorite pastime during this challenging time. So with shovels, hoes, rakes and the occasional chainsaw they started tearing up their flower gardens, patios, front and back yards, and the occasional ugly deck to construct their own hiking trails.
“We built a beautiful loop trail around our in ground pool,” said Pauline Pulaski of Puyallup. “Who needs Colchuck Lake when we have our own blue-green backcountry backyard lake?” Matthew Mattock built a straight shot trail across his front lawn to his Mailbox. “I am constructing a newer trail with switchbacks to it,” he states. “But the old harder trail is there when I want a good workout and leave the crowds behind—wait a minute there are no crowds because of all of the social distancing,” he added. “Matter of fact I haven’t seen my neighbors since I lost sight of them in the Great Toilet Paper Rush at the local Cosmart.”
“There is no way I am going to wait for the Stay at Home orders to lift before I can get some hiking in,” says Catrina Clinometer. “I built some epic loops in my backyard complete with a wildflower meadow,” she stated. “Okay they’re daffodils—but wild enough for me,” she added. The new trail builders love the fact that they don’t need a pass to use these trails. “I was told that if I volunteered to do some trail work—I would get a free NW Discovery Pass,” says Francesca Frugalina.
There have been some complaints of over zealot trail builders taking a chainsaw to a few fences and rows of arborvitaes. The new views these improvements made into neighbor’s yards —especially ones with hot tubs—were not always met with enthusiasm. “Who needs Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks,” says Stuart Sanvik “when I have a spectacular trail all to myself complete with views of a Mini Mart,” he says. The store allows him to occasionally go on a longer hike for his essentials—primarily beer, he elaborated.
“I never tire of hiking my own trails,” says Rayanne Rake. “One morning I found some interesting paw prints in the tread,” she said while shooing away the neighbor’s cat. At this rate of trail building, there might never be a crowded trail again in the state. “Now that’s hard to believe,” says Jennifer Thejokesonyou of the newly formed Washington Backyard Trail Association. In any case she added, “Washington hikers are a hardy bunch, they’ll survive this blasted Coronavirus menace and will soon be hitting their favorite trails with a vengeance!”
While April Fools Day was pretty much cancelled this year like everything else this spring: I couldn’t help think that we can all use a little light humor to help us get through these tough times. Stay Healthy, Stay Local, Stay 6 feet Apart, and Stay Hopeful.