Which is the best place for hiking?

Me at the snout of Carbon Glacier, Mount Rainier, 2012

For me, it’s Mount Rainier National park, a large volcano of the Cascade volcano chain in North America. Why?

  1. I have been hiking here for 43 years, since I was a teenager. I have seen changes occur over the years: ice caves have closed, floods have occurred, roads have closed.
  2. My family and friends have had many great days on this mountain. I’ve never had anyone regret spending time here.
  3. Next, I have spent a good chunk of my life learning the flora, fauna, geology and ecology of this mountain region. There’s always something new to learn here.
  4. It’s also fairly easy for me to access. In fact, the local Cascade and Olympic mountains are why I live near Seattle, Washington.
  5. Exploring here is never boring. I have spent much of my time exploring the alpine areas above 2000 meters. There are also dense forests. fast moving rivers, lakes and many wonderful places. While not a mountaineer, I climbed the heavily glaciated 4392 meter summit in 2011.
  6. Finally, it’s just a place I love.

For each of us the answer’s going to be different. How would you answer this question?

PS – This was an answer I wrote on Quora, slightly edited, to this question:
https://www.quora.com/Which-is-the-best-place-for-hiking

Running my town

I did an interesting project in April, 2020 to keep in shape while staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. I ran and walked every street and a few trails in my town of Lake Forest Park, Washington.

I ended up doing 15 runs over 22 days for a total of 159.8 miles. My shortest run was 4 miles and the longest was over 21 miles. The average was about 7.2 miles. Our town has a few hills; my elevation gain was 10,730 feet (about the height of Mount Baker). For every run, I knew the area I wanted to explore but not the detailed path. The first thing I had to do was hike up the hill of our street and decide whether to go right or left?

Which way should I go today?

Along the way, I discovered lots of interesting places in my town and visited areas I’d never been to. I talked to a number of great people (from a distance), discovered some great views, enjoyed the spring beauty and had a lot of fun. Here’s a few images, there are more in my Run LFP 2020 album on Flickr.

The biggest little library I’d ever seen, I found my kind of book!
Creative idea
Wonderful place
Done!

The animation shows each days run, the details can be found on my Run LFP 2020 project log.

COVID-19 infection rate is slowing down in King and Snohomish county

Here’s some reasonably good news, the rate of spread of COVID-19 is decreasing significantly in King and Snohomish County, Washington. Here’s a plot that illustrates the reduction in spread based on new cases.

Figure 1: Logarithm of cumulative COVID-19 infections in King and Snohomish County, Washington versus time (11 March, 2020) to 7 April, 2020

The yellow, circular data points are a count of the actual cases as reported by King and Snohomish County Department of Health. The blue, red and green lines with constant slopes represent the exponential increase in COVID-19 infections predicted using an exponential model with doubling times that were altered to estimate the effectiveness of social distancing.

The blue (baseline) slope predicts the number of infections based on a doubling rate of 6.2 days; this is the case if no social distancing methods were employed. The actual cases (yellow) closely tracked the blue slope from 11 to 17 March, 2020. In the next week interval (18-24 March, 2020) the slope of the actual cases deviated from the blue line towards the red line which was an estimate of social distancing becoming more effective; that is manifest as a 25% increase in the doubling time to spread the virus.

In the last few days (28-30 March, 2020), the number of actual cases appears to be flattening out again. If that trend continues, that’s very good new for King and Snohomish County as it indicates significant reduction in the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Update 31 March 2020

Here’s a different way to look at the data, suggested to me by my colleague Luis. This visualization based on a a trajectory method developed by Aatish Bhatia and Henry Reich using average weekly data plotted against cumulative data. [3] This is a lagging indicator, so I expect it to be delayed in signaling a downturn. That said, it’s likely to be a strong, positive signal.

Notes and References

[1] I derived my simple model as described in my post https://brewbooks.blog/2020/03/25/social-distancing-is-reducing-covid-19-burden-in-king-and-snohomish-counties/ using results originally developed by a team from the Institute for Disease Modeling with some partners: Klein, D., Hagedorn, B., Cliff Kerr, H. H., Bedford, T., & Famulare, M. (2020). Working paper – model-based estimates of COVID19 burden in King and Snohomish counties through April 7, 2020Institute for Disease Modeling.

[2] Here’s a link to the underlying data and model I am using. Updated Covid19 Data SnoKing J Brew I will be updating this daily until 7 April 2020

[3] I encourage listening to Henry Reich’s Minutephysic’s YouTube video

and Aatish Bhatia’s website https://aatishb.com/covidtrends/

Measuring social distancing effects in reducing COVID-19 spread

Governor Jay Inslee said on 26 March 2020 that our state has shown a “modest improvement” in stemming the COVID-19 infection rate. [1] As a young engineer I learned: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”[2]

This graph is my attempt to measure the effectiveness of our current social distancing measures are using the daily count of COVID-19 cases in King and Snohomish county. I am comparing the actual cases (in yellow, labeled First Diff Actual) to an exponential model I used to project the spread of infection. [3] The solid blue, red and green lines are projected increases in daily new COVID-19 cases for three scenarios starting on 10 March: baseline (no social distancing- red line, 25% reduction due to social distancing – blue line , and 50% reduction due to social distancing – green line. Our modest improvement (the yellow data falling in between the read and blue lines) seems to track the effects of 25% reduction in COVID-19 spread due to social distancing. What does this mean for King and Snohomish county in the near future?

The figure below shows three possible scenarios. The red line projects about 10,000 COVID-19 cases on 7 April. This seems to be our current trajectory. This is a large improvement over the baseline blue line of 25,000 COVID-19 cases on 7 April if we had done nothing.

As a colleague pointed out to me, the cumulative data is easier to visualize using a logarithmic plot as follows:

Have we done enough? That’s a question each of us need to address. Our leaders, like Governor Inslee, have provided us the framework to follow, it’s up to us to follow as best we can. I will also suggest listening to an excellent TED talk from Bill Gates

I suggest listening to an excellent TED talk from Bill Gates on other ways to respond to our pandemic, he discusses isolation , testing and the future.

Notes and References

[1] Coronavirus daily news updates, March 27: What to know today about COVID-19 in the Seattle area, Washington state and the nation https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/health/coronavirus-daily-news-updates-march-27-what-to-know-today-about-covid-19-in-the-seattle-area-washington-state-and-the-nation/ accessed 27 March 2020

[2] attributed to Peter Drucker, drilled into my from multiple bosses

[3] I derived my simple model as described in my post https://brewbooks.blog/2020/03/25/social-distancing-is-reducing-covid-19-burden-in-king-and-snohomish-counties/ using results originally developed by a team from the Institute for Disease Modeling with some partners: Klein, D., Hagedorn, B., Cliff Kerr, H. H., Bedford, T., & Famulare, M. (2020). Working paper – model-based estimates of COVID19 burden in King and Snohomish counties through April 7, 2020Institute for Disease Modeling.

[4] Here’s a link to the underlying data and model I am using. Updated Covid19 Data SnoKing J Brew I will be updating this daily until 7 April 2020