As the "curve" is getting squashed, it is time to start planning to venture out again.
What is open?
Contrary to popular beliefs and reporting, much of the California backcountry has been open albeit to various extents. National Parks have all been pretty much closed. Most Forest Service lands have been open to hiking but established campground and facilities have been closed. All state lands have been closed. County and city lands don't provide much in the way of long distance hiking so aren't a concern for this discussion. One tricky aspect to permitting is actually getting your permit. Inyo NF is taking reservations starting June 1 but if the ranger stations are still closed, there is no way to get your permit. SEKI is accepting permit applications but they don't guarantee a response. Some districts will issue permits via email so those are a safe bet. Be sure to check the websites of the land manager where you plan to hike for the latest information.
What is safe?
Everyone has their own opinion on this (whether fact-based or not). Andrew Skurka is putting up a great set of guidelines for judging risk and safety for backcountry outings. Skurka is focusing on guiding groups but his principles apply for solo and Scout groups as well. The data shows that outdoor activities is very safe, especially the farther you get from the road. I predict coming across other folks but will have a buff for face covering as appropriate. My current short term planning is to hike within a tank's worth of gas therefore I won't have to stop anywhere along the way between home and the trailhead. If trends in the data continue, then I will consider dropping this restriction from summer which means getting to the Sierras.
On the trail
I don't plan on making any changes to my gear for the trail. I will be taking extra water in the car so I don't have to fill up from municipal sources which may be closed.
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