ONP should reopen backcountry backpacking earlier

Last summer I hiked across Olympic National Park (ONP) with my two teenage children.

My husband dropped us off at the Dosewallips River Trail and we hiked the west fork of the Dose over Anderson Pass.

On the trek we saw minimal other hikers and camped at a distance from others.

My husband picked us up at Graves Creek trailhead and we headed directly home.

This time in ONP was wonderful for us: rejuvenating for the soul and valuable time as a family.

Backpacking seems like one of the few activities that is relatively safe in the time of COVID, even compared to day use and car camping.

Day users crowd the first 5 miles of trails and may be more likely to stop at local restaurants on their way home.

Car campers share campground bathrooms and may visit local attractions like museums.

I am frustrated that ONP officials have deemed backcountry use as one of the last to open.

I think measures like limiting the number of permits available and providing safe guidelines for backpackers seem like reasonable steps to limit COVID-19 exposure while still opening the backcountry for overnight use.

I support measures that protect local communities and slow the spread of COVID, but I do not believe that backpacking poses a significant threat if done correctly.

It is my hope that ONP will consider this and open the wilderness.

Anne Kramer