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Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby sparky » Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:32 pm

One of the many good things about being solo is not having to be social. I like leaving all that baggage behind, social graces, my job, relationships, responsibilities, and city troubles in general.

Shedding all that is the first step to really feeling connected and plugged in to your surroundings. Just to let your consciousness float on the breeze. The only thing greater than being in that perfect alpine meadow is to be completely connected to it. The moment you start talking to someone you come out of that trance like state.
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.



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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby rlown » Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:37 pm

Wow! this almost sounds like a group hug on Solo, if that's even possible.

It's ok to group up on the internet and talk about how you don't want to be in a group.. interesting..
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby sparky » Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:12 pm

Umm yup! HST isnt a group hiking down a trail it is a social media web site!

Everything has its proper time and its proper place :wink:
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby Rockchucker » Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:22 pm

rlown wrote:Wow! this almost sounds like a group hug on Solo, if that's even possible.

It's ok to group up on the internet and talk about how you don't want to be in a group.. interesting..

Not so interesting but maybe ironic. Forums provide perfect solitude for the socially inept. You can have contact but at the same time you can shut it off. You can't really shut off an unwanted intruder that persistently annoys, well not legally.
I'm no suture for my future.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby markskor » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:02 pm

Interesting where this thread leads...

First of all, agree that 4 days solo Sierra, fishing off trail and seeing nobody is indeed heaven - a whole week even better. However, from reading above, some here (old timers specifically) appear upset when having to talk to, even seeing other hikers - losing their connect, ruining their round, harshing their mellow. Me too, but only from afar.

When solo, after a few days in, indeed you become tuned in; you become aware of the presence of everyone, everything - miles off, any movement on the horizon. Somehow that miniscule human speck, way off in the distance, somehow infringes - takes something away...(doesn't make sense, but it does). A bird, or a deer, or bear adds something - The presence of another human detracts. The words spent in passing, saying hi, nodding, are subordinate to the physical presence of just being seen. You both realize you are not alone.

Once the inevitable happens, your actual paths crossing, this is another matter. When solo, once the "mood" has been broken, I usually talk with everybody (who is receptive)...understand your just nodding and not stopping too. Sometimes those met are crusty, geared-up, fishermen who know when to keep quiet - sometimes they are complete bassholes - sometimes both. You can usually tell soon enough - Sierra.

Being self-contained and solo, you can always move on. Solo hikers know, and if this be a group hug...where else?
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby TahoeJeff » Sun Feb 02, 2014 8:23 pm

I'll just leave this here (definitely applies to me):

“Do you hate people?

I don't hate them...I just feel better when they're not around.”
― Charles Bukowski, Barfly
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby giantbrookie » Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:34 pm

In the years when my wife and I did a lot of hikes we would do the majority of them without others, including our best and longest trips. I can remember only one time when other asked to join us while in the backcountry. They did not so much ask to hike with us but they seemed to be interested in being social and camping near us. We were not at our destination yet and we were hiking off trail from Martha to the unnamed lake between Sapphire and Wanda via Davis Lakes. We met these folks at Davis Lake. I can't say we worked up much strategy. We were asked where we planned to camp that evening and before I could answer my wife simply said that we weren't too sure, so I took the hint for we knew very well where we planned to camp. The next part of the 'strategy', if you can call it that, is that my wife really stepped on the hiking accelerator coming out of Davis Lakes leaving the other two very far behind so that we never saw them again. In our off trail backpacking hey day this is the only time we faced a potential tag-a-long situation of sorts.

In contrast, on another occasion we returned to a camp in Darwin Canyon and found two people camped next to us that we had seen at a nearby lake earlier in the day. We very much welcomed this, not because they shared G and T's with us, but because these two were the only folks we ever met in the backcountry that gave us more fishing information than we gave them (they had also called it right on the lake earlier in the day when we met them as they departed it--"you will really like this place"). In any case that was the best high country fishing brainstorming session we ever had in the High Sierra. Would we have been so welcoming if we met them while hiking and they asked us to camp nearby? If they had bribed us with a few teaser pieces of fishing info, undoubtedly yes. I suppose that under certain circumstances we'd sell our solitude.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby tim » Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:04 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:It seems to me that a certain demographic - younger than we old timers - are really into the social aspect of backpacking, and to them, tagging along is natural, fun and think everyone loves this. I do not think it occurs to them that we rather be alone, and alone a LOT! Four days without seeing a single person is pure heaven to me. Actually, my purposeful avoidance of other backpackers probably seems rude to them. So to all the trail social butterflies, I apologize if I seem rude. I just would rather not talk. A simple greeting might even break my wilderness experience. I am not in the least offended if you do not say "hi" to me either. A smile is enough.


I very much enjoyed watching The Muir Project's Mile, Mile and a Half film over the holidays. It fascinated me how many people joined up with them in the last half of the trip. I observed a similar grouping up of solo JMT hikers when we went from Onion Valley to Whitney in 2012.

It does seem that after a week or so on the trail, plenty of people are in search of someone else to talk to. Personally, I'm always interested to find out about where people are from and where they are going, if we end up camping nearby or meet them on the trail. One of the thing I like is the huge variety in background of people you meet out in the backcountry. But I wouldn't change plans to camp nearby or try and hike with them.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby OzSwaggie » Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:43 am

We hardly ever strike this in Australia, but when we are in the Sierra hiking people pick up on our accents and are often friendly and curious. We like it when people stop to chat with us along the trail because it is such a great travel experience, we meet people from all over the USA and it is so much better than most people's experiences as "tourists", where they only meet the locals when they are providing goods and services. But we don't join up and hike or camp with others; we like to do our own thing and have our privacy. We are very slow hikers, ('cos of me, basically!) so most people scoot past us pretty quick smart!

Having said that, there was one fellow who was just as slow as us, hiking solo but I think not by choice (I think he just didn't know anyone else who liked hiking!). He kept stopping when we did, waiting for us and getting up from his breaks when we caught up with him, that sort of thing, and eventually when we got ahead we nipped off the trail and hid behind a rock while he went past, and we took a good break to give him a good head start. We felt a bit mean and guilty doing this, at the time - but couldn't think of another strategy! When it was clear he had gone well ahead, we just felt relieved.

Sometimes I do get funny feelings about people we meet who get a bit clingy, and worry that maybe they are deranged. (I'm sure some people on the trail have had the same thoughts about me, especially when I'm combining jetlag, altitude adjustment and exhaustion into one neat package!) Unfortunately, my partner and I usually get these feelings about different people, so someone who is freaking me out is my partner's new best friend! Awkward, we need a strategy for that one!

We met one guy once who looked at me with staring eyes and said "I don't know where I am, I just got up this morning and began walking". (we were somewhere near Garnett lake at the time"). He leapfrogged us for a while and we were happy to see him wave from his campsite as we passed by. Another fellow who seemed not to hear anything we said to him tried to forcefully persuade me to accompany him to a cliff edge viewpoint (I don't like heights) - luckily we were in a well populated area near a trailhead at the time, or I would have been worried! We've had lots of well-meaning but flawed advice and trail information and offers of help - we've learned that just because someone is from somewhere in the USA doesn't mean they know any more than we do about this particular part of it!

I generally like to know others are in the general area where we are camping, just in case of trouble, and might wave to acknowledge them, but I don't approach their camps. At the end of a backpacking day, I'm too tired to be looking to socialize, anyway! I just want my sleeping bag!

While we are on the topic of socializing and privacy and trail etiquette, one thing that bothers me a little is the thought that if I tell someone I meet on the trail anything about myself or my life it could end up on the internet in their journal or blog. So "social media" does cause me to clam up about myself when I meet people, ironically enough! Happy to discuss the terrain ahead/behind, water sources, weather etc., or even where I'm from. But if people start asking direct personal questions I'm ready to move on.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby markskor » Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:29 am

OzSwaggie wrote:...one thing that bothers me a little is the thought that if I tell someone I meet on the trail anything about myself or my life it could end up on the internet in their journal or blog. So "social media" does cause me to clam up about myself when I meet people, ironically enough! Happy to discuss the terrain ahead/behind, water sources, weather etc., or even where I'm from. But if people start asking direct personal questions I'm ready to move on.

Hence the trail name...
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby LMBSGV » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:24 am

I've also encountered the "where are you from/where do you live" question a few times when meeting someone on the trail. I usually say "Bay Area" and not get more specific. However, there have been instances when the person/persons want something more specific - "exactly where in the Bay Area?" I'll say "Marin" or my wife's favorite "north of San Francisco" and a couple of times when the vibe I'm picking up from them is good enough "West Marin." But there have been a couple of instances, one time with my wife and once solo, where they wanted specifics and I/we simply lied in response. In both instances the parties were hiking back out and we were going into the backcountry. I/we were suspicious enough of someone who wanted us to give our home address. We also have encountered this line of questioning a couple of times when car camping out-of-state and again resorted to lying in response to someone who was too persistently nosy.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby rlown » Mon Feb 03, 2014 11:42 am

so, where are you really from? Marinish, San geronimoish? :D

I agree completely you never give out your address, but it's also online, and you share stuff on this site with "guests" in an ongoing fashion; we all do.

I did meet a couple at Piute pass from my "neck of the woods". I wasn't the one in our party that asked them where they were from. We were all headed over and into the backcountry.
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