Based in Washington State, US - the interest for hiking and backpacking started many years ago, before social media was a way to gain information. A main source of inspiration was a local author named Craig Romano, whose books she used for location information as well as trail reviews. Over the years both hiking, backpacking as well as yoga has also become a way to process and recharge from stressful situations related to her work in foster care. The beginning of last year Kui was still recovering from a knee surgery that she underwent the prior November and she was unable to hit the trails until March/April. A few months later she went a trip to the Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington State - US. There were no forest fires, no bugs and no rain - great for hiking but fairly rare. She teamed up with two friends for the 15 mile (24 km) hike and enjoyed views of Mt Adams, Goat Lake and Snowgrass Flats. When we asked what the main learnings were last year, she said;
“There has been much insight over the years. Time and stopping to take a pause is now the most important thing. I used to power my way up a trail and not take it all in and enjoy nature. Nowadays, I allow myself to stop and enjoy the moments; look around - take in the views, allow time to shoot photos (if that is your thing), look at the wild flowers, eat blueberries (or whatever other berry I can find) and appreciate the wildlife.”
Just as last year, this year started off slower than usual for Kui. Washington State was among the first to register a COVID-19 case in the US.
Where in the world are you located at the moment?
- Washington State, US.
When and how did you start to feel the impact of COVID-19?
- My home is located in the forest so I haven't felt cut off from nature. The major adjustment for me was to start working from home since the end of March. I also used to go to the yoga studio 2-4 times a week and not being able to keep that routine has been extremely difficult for me. I know you can take classes online but I definitely prefer the studio as well as the comradery of the others in class. I did start to feel the funk for a few weeks in the beginning of the state shutdown but then decided I needed to be more active so I dusted off my bike which I haven’t used for five years. I also started to do some home improvements as well as research some camping and hiking trips I might want to do, when possible.
What plans did you have before COVID-19 recommendations and restrictions came into place? Did you need to cancel or have your plans been postponed?
- Yes, the first plans that were canceled was around my birthday in April. I was supposed to go on a road-trip to the coast of Oregon and central Oregon to both hike nearby a known climbing area, do some sunset hikes that overlook the ocean and also visit my tattoo artist for some more ink. I also had a permit (these can be hard to get) for the Enchantments Area in the Alpine Wilderness of Washington State. I am still hoping to visit my niece over in Colorado in the fall. She and her family are avid hikers and she and I were going to hit a few of her favorite hikes as well as an old mill (which is social media famous). If the restrictions ease up and if it's safe to travel, I would like to spend a week there. If that’s not possible and Canada is open, I’d like to go back to Banff in September to see the larches. Besides this, I am usually monitoring the weather conditions and then set my plans based on that for trips to other parts of Washington State or Oregon.
How do you stay connected to the outdoors now - any tips to our readers/community on things to do and how to stay motivated?
- Stay physically active. Check in with the Park Service Office for trail status, as well as conditions. Some trails are still accessible but the bathrooms, and/or other facilities, as well as parking might be closed. Now that dispersed camping is approved, I am looking at camping opportunities along the logging roads, rivers, lakes or anything else outside of the main campsites, which are still closed. I prefer dispersed camping anyways because usually the campsites have so many people and it’s hard to enjoy nature with all the extra distractions.
What is the first thing you are planning to do as restrictions ease up?
- I have some great ideas, but I just need to consider where I am at physically with my knee. I need to have a partial knee replacement but am trying to hold it off as long as possible. Somedays are better than others. I have friends who are looking to summit Mt Adams (12 276 ft, highest peak in Washington State) as well as other local peaks and even if I cannot summit or hike due to the elevation or conditions, I will still join them to car camp or backpack in.
Goat Rocks Wilderness, Washington State - US. Photo credit: Kui