Some Angelenos Are Donning Masks — and Sometimes Nothing Else — While Hiking

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The sun is out and evidently so are Angelenos as many don masks and face coverings to enjoy that beloved local pastime — hiking.

Often donning masks — and sometimes not much else — L.A.-area hikers are taking to the trails to care for pets, care for themselves and enjoy the outdoors.

Although state and local governments are placing restrictions and all-out closures on certain recreational spaces to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many remain open. For every Eaton Canyon that gets shut down temporarily, other places continue to receive visitors and regular summer crowds.

To explore the sort of decisions and interactions local hikers experience, Los Angeleno headed to the trails at Deep Creek, Griffith Park and Arroyo Seco to observe pandemic hiking habits.

Some people view hiking as an activity that poses reduced risks thanks to the diffusive and non-recirculated airflow found outdoors as well as less hand-to-surface contact. For many, crowds remain the definitive threat with the coronavirus.

When sharing trails with dozens or hundreds of other hikers over the course of a few hours, many are taking orthodox and unorthodox approaches to follow government policies and general best practices during the pandemic. People generally focus on the basics: wearing a mask and keeping distance.

However, it appears not everyone follows rules the same way, and a few people — even entire families — do not seem to follow them at all. Most hikers appear to be wearing masks at least within 6 feet or less of others, in many cases using a “spot and pull” approach — pulling a mask up when spotting other hikers ahead.

Unlike constantly and privately regulated indoor spaces like markets, on hiking trails, it is the honor system that enforces coronavirus prevention.

The common denominator that has emerged is a spectrum of multimodal social norms surrounding core practices of communication, courtesy, pacing, skipping certain destinations altogether and occasional shaming. Different hikers, and different members in a single group, often follow their own variations on these core practices.

Los Angeleno