Coronavirus Chronicles: Hiking the hometown for exercise and exploration

David Fox from one of his hiking adventures outside of Mountlake Terrace. (Photo courtesy David Fox)

Starting on March 28, David Fox walked 120 miles in 26 days, covering almost all of his hometown, Mountlake Terrace, with one exception: “The only roads I wasn’t able to cover were those through the Nile Shrine golf course, which is closed during the coronavirus shutdown.”

The trek, captured on his phone’s GPS app, came out of a thwarted desire to do his usual hiking in the Cascades, also off limits to recreation during the COVID-19 crisis. “I like to explore the mountains and walk a lot anyway, so I decided to explore my own community and walk down every street.”

Now retired from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, Fox is no stranger to epic journeys. “When I was younger, I biked 1,500-miles. When you get out of a car, it’s a whole different experience.”

Fox began his adventure online, looking for information on the town his family has lived in for almost 30 years. “I got a map from the City of Mountlake Terrace and found out there are actually six named neighborhoods.”

Then he set off, averaging more than four miles a day, although one day it was just over 10. He walked every day “except for two, one was Easter and the other, it was raining.”

After walking several neighborhoods, he was struck by something that had faded from his consciousness over the years — the abundance and grandeur of the city’s Douglas firs. “I have three in my own yard, so they’re not exactly new to me. They’re throughout the city, in the yards of small cottages and large houses. It was incredible to see the ones with no branches for 30- or 40-feet up, so tall and straight, and the way they move in the wind. I was just very impressed by them.”

Another thing he noticed was the diversity of neighborhoods.

“I walked through a section where it was all apartments, condos and townhouses, places with newer homes, and then older homes, enclaves of small cottages,” he said.

One street really caught his attention. “I don’t know if it was a developer from California or what, but they were newer homes and every one had palm trees. It was like being in Southern California.”

Fox observed strict social distancing rules during his daily walks but when he saw others, everyone was friendly. “There wasn’t much interaction but I remember one guy I talked to. I was walking through the Premera Blue Cross area on 220th. A security guard stopped me and asked what I was doing.”

The guard allowed him to be on his way.

The map of Fox’s journey.

Fox wrapped up his journey on April 24 but he may wait a bit before heading to the hills. “There are a lot of people that will be on the trails and I don’t know if they can maintain social distancing so I might stay close to home for awhile.”

He’s turned his attention to surrounding areas. “My wife, Vicki, likes the views in Edmonds, so we’re walking those streets. I’ll probably also walk Lake Forest Park and Brier.”

Fox enthusiastically recommends these neighborhood adventures to others stuck indoors. “The stay-at-home order is in effect at least until the end of the month,” he said. “If you’re looking for exercise and some exploring, I say go for it.”

— By Connie McDougall

This article is part of an ongoing series exploring the impact of coronavirus on the life, work and health of Edmonds residents. If you or someone you know has a story to tell, please email us at





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