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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 dave54 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 10:32 pm

Similar topic over on rv.net


http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fusea ... ging/1.cfm

It is all public land and anyone can camp wherever they want. However, some backcountry ethics and courtesy should apply when another party arrives at the same place you have already set up camp. And vice versa.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby baddog » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:39 pm

Funny how we all feel that we should be able to enjoy the great outdoors alone and unaccosted. Like in most social situations, most people can read the "signs" and act appropriately. Sometimes it pays not to overthink encounters on the trail, it is what it is and I'm the first one that needs to take his own advise.

I picked up a tag-a-long just once. She was blond, beautiful and very talkative. I decided I could deal with it:)
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby oleander » Sun Mar 09, 2014 5:15 pm

There is yet another angle to this:

I have a lot of different hiking partners. (Rarely go solo.) But each hiking partner is unique in his/her desire to interact with other parties that we meet. I try to play my part to be "good hiking partner" by being sensitive to what it is my partner wants to experience.

On one extreme of the spectrum, I have a friend who prefers that absolutely no information about us gets imparted to anyone we happen to talk to. She just feels safer if no one knows our names, our hometowns, and particularly, where we intend to camp that night. So when hiking with her, I respect her wish and do not share that info (except, sometimes, my name) with people we meet. I also respect her wish to camp as far away as possible from other campers at any given lake. (To the point of entertaining long searches for remote benches - that always end up with long and awkward water-carries.) Her extreme caution is not a sign of "new backpackerhood." She's been packing for more than 20 years - solo or with others - and still feels this way.

When it's up to me alone (or copacetic with a given hiking partner), I actually feel safer if I meet people who find out my name, my destination, my various plans. If something goes awry, the rangers are more likely to find someone who has a more recent and colorful "last seen at..." for me. I also find that the more I interact with people, the more we can exchange very useful recon information on hiking conditions, passes, weather forecasts, bears, most excellent secret campsites, etc.

However, I don't force that experience on my hiking partners, such as my ultra-cautious friend. And following people on their hike, being Chatty Cathy, and camping in the same location - that is a whole new level of intrusion.

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

Postby EpicSteve » Thu Mar 27, 2014 3:24 am

Tagging along with other hikers on the trail when they haven't specifically invited you to do so? Following them to their campsite even? What are these people thinking?!

I haven't really had this problem, but I generally avoid busy trails and do a lot of XC hiking. Roughly 70% of my hikes are solo and since I value my solitude, I try not to spoil it for others. On rare occasions the topography forces me to camp near other people, but otherwise, I go well out of my way to avoid them. If I'm hiking off trail and I see another party, I try to get out of sight before they see me, if possible. Not so much because I don't want to talk to them (after all, my illusion of isolation was already shattered as soon as I realized they were there) but to at least preserve THEIR illusion - why ruin it for both of us? But if they've already seen me, I just try to take my cues from them.

Expecting solitude on the JMT / PCT is a bit unrealistic, IMHO. I figure you may as well just be friendly because the chances of not seeing other hikers are practically nil. The trail may pass through the wilderness, but the trail itself is a social network, in a sense. Either way, I try to be sensitive to other hikers’ desires and apparently most of us in this thread agree on that last part.

Sometimes I don’t want to talk to other hikers simply because I’m breathing hard and trying to make time. I often time myself between various landmarks and use athletic competition against myself as motivation. If I’m in that mode and I sense that a hiker up ahead wants to talk, I look at my watch very pointedly, breathe extra loudly and make very deliberate, authoritative plants with my trekking poles. Then I nod, make brief eye contact and then immediately avert my eyes to the trail. This nearly always works.

However, when I do hike with a partner, it's because I actually LIKE that person and want to spend time with him or her. So, to address Wandering Daisy’s puzzlement over why hikers follow each other ten feet apart…

If I’m hiking with my best friend, we both want to be able to stop at any given moment and say something like: “Wow! Look through that little opening in the trees. Do you see that sharp spire in the distance with the waterfall on the left side? Yeah, isn’t that awesome?!” Sharing those moments deepens our friendship and the fact that my parents and I shared so many of those moments over the years is a huge part of why I love hiking now. I never would’ve developed the confidence to enjoy solo hiking off trail if it hadn’t been for that more social and supportive style of hiking. Plus, if I’m going to have to worry about why my partner still hasn’t shown up in camp 30 minutes after I got there, I’d rather just go solo. I don’t understand the point of hiking “with somebody” and then hiking a mile apart. But again, to each their own.
“I don’t deny that there can be an element of escapism in mountaineering, but this should never overshadow its real essence, which is not escape but victory over your own human frailty.”

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

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:10 am

I was not referring to walking 30 minutes apart, but simply following at a distance of a few hundred feet- still within sight and plenty of time to chat during rest stops. The 10-feet apart may be fine for the leader, but I do not like to follow that close - too much dust, cannot have a good vista of the scenery, and yes, too much temptation to continuously chat - which takes away from really seeing my surroundings. You also cannot keep a steady pace when right up against someone else when you are forced to abruptly stop because the person in front has halted for an obstacle. For me, the positive aspects of conversations on the trail are far outweighed by the negatives. My preference is to socialize in camp, which I do thoroughly enjoy.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby Jimr » Thu Mar 27, 2014 4:23 pm

I guess I've been very fortunate. Although I normally do much of my travel off trail, those I've seen both on and off trail have been respectful of me and I to them. Sometimes, it's just a nod or hi, depending on my sense of the other person. Sometimes it's a moment to ask a question or two, then move on. I've never had a tag-a-long or excessively chatty person to deal with.

I guess I've been very fortunate in my choice of partners as well. I don't like to chatter while hiking and I'm comfortable with at least 50ft between us. Dust and abrupt stops are avoided and the occasional branch swinging back like a rocket from the less experienced don't stop with my face (yes, it happened once deep in Goddard Creek). Personally, I don't know how one could chatter while trying to focus on breathing and hiking. I find it an experience in solitude even with a partner. I guess I've picked my partners well. I don't mind if we end up 30 minutes distance between us, but I prefer shouting distance at most. If there is too much disparity between our hiking speeds, then I've picked the wrong partner and will deal with the distance. It is kind of a pain when one has rested waiting for the other to catch-up, then is ready to move on as soon as the other arrives. May as well have gone solo.

I'm sure if I did experience some of what is in this thread, I'd be cordial and hint at first, then get polite, but straight forward if the former didn't work. I suppose if SHE appealed to me, I'd let her tag along, but that hasn't happened except in my wildest dreams and most likely never will. I suspect women are much more leary of unknown men than men are of unknown women.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby Mike M. » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:45 pm

I suppose if SHE appealed to me, I'd let her tag along, but that hasn't happened except in my wildest dreams and most likely never will.
Jimr, I hope your wife doesn't frequent this forum! :nod:

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

Postby intrek38 » Thu Mar 27, 2014 6:31 pm

How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee ????
Start barking uncontrollably like a dog, and if they choose to camp nearby, just howl before they set up camp..
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby Cloudy » Thu Mar 27, 2014 9:04 pm

I do treasure the odd chance encounters with folks on the trail. I am not a talkative person by nature - more of a "listener" but I sometimes ask where you are from or if you would care to share my meal because I am polite and am happy whichever you choose to do. I enjoy talking to "foreigners" because they have come all the way from another part of the world to see something that I can drive to in a couple of hours. I can respect that. I regard these encounters as I do chance encounters with other animals. It's in the scheme of things. If I seek solitude, I choose the path less traveled. The only encounters that I do not really care for are large groups of people generally because of the intrusion/commotion that they make on the hiker freeways.

While hiking a trail in Sequoia Park, I met a gentleman and in passing, we both said hello and kept on going. Then we both stopped and turned around. I believe that I said that he looked familiar. He said "you look familiar also". He, with a better memory than I said "I think that we met on top of Forester Pass - you offered my some of your soup". I then remembered the incident and smiled. We went our separate ways. I treasure chance moments like this. It's a salutary example of "what goes around, comes around", karma or whatever you call it and I know in my heart that he would have offered me something to eat also. Perhaps as a result of that chance meeting long before - perhaps not. Who knows? I equate it as to "ships passing in the night".

That being said, I would size the person up in conversation if he wanted to hang with me awhile. You can generally tell if the person is somewhat compatible relatively quickly and I would not be averse to another party (unless I was with my wife/significant other etc.) because some fun adventures have been had in the past from just such meetings. I would stress the limitations (tire quickly, rest a lot) that I bring to the ball and would be afraid of the burden that I would impose on others. If the person was obviously an idiot or "not my type". I would politely decline with the excuse that my enjoyment of nature was in its solitude - which is true. Politeness is always appreciated.

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

Postby Jimr » Fri Mar 28, 2014 11:34 am

Mike M. wrote:
I suppose if SHE appealed to me, I'd let her tag along, but that hasn't happened except in my wildest dreams and most likely never will.
Jimr, I hope your wife doesn't frequent this forum! :nod:

Mike


:whistle: I wouldn't say anything on-line that I wouldn't want my wife to see. I doubt she'd be concerned given my lack of attributes.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby cgundersen » Fri Mar 28, 2014 4:31 pm

Hi Suzy,
This thread has elicited some cute stories, and I think that there are plenty of good solutions, not the least of which is if you choose, you can definitely find ways to avoid people, because the area you're dealing with is HUGE. Plus, if you carefully choose when you go (for instance, my wife and I virtually always take a trip in early-to-mid-June at which time there are very few souls out there except the through hikers on the PCT/JMT; and we generally go 7-10 days without seeing another soul), you can minimize intrusions. Having said that, I've had some delightful interactions with folks whilst on trail, but I've also had the odd instance where I thought I was getting to someplace pretty remote, only to find someone giving me the stink eye. I get it, because I've also given it.
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Re: Trail Etiquette - How to Politely Deter unwanted "third whee

Postby EpicSteve » Sat Mar 29, 2014 12:25 pm

Obviously I misunderstood you a bit, Wandering Daisy. I apologize for that. What you said makes perfect sense. Myself, I prefer approximately 20 - 50 foot spacing if I'm hiking with a partner, depending on terrain and flora, because my partners and I like to discuss scenery/geology/flora/fauna and route-finding quite a lot. While traveling XC in the Cascades in 2008, a big chunk of rotten rock gave way under my partner's feet and he found himself unexpectedly scree glissading down an extremely steep slope. I dashed over and stopped him. He may well have stopped on his own but perhaps not, so I was glad to be close enough to do that. But I totally understand wanting more space. Now to get back to more directly on topic...

Cloudy, your point of view was eloquently written and I agree 100% with everything you said!

I just remembered that summer before last, my best friend and I were hiking the northern half of Yosemite and taking a lunch stop near the creek in Matterhorn Canyon. A fit-looking young man approached us a bit tentatively and explained that he'd never done a solo backpacking trip before and was wondering if he could tag along with us for a while because he was feeling a bit nervous. My buddy and I don't get to see each other very often and we treasure our "bro time" together. But we said "no problem!" because we figured (as Cloudy pointed out) that what comes around goes around. Turns out the young man had just gotten out of the Army and was getting ready to go to college and this was his big adventure in between. He was very nice and we had a great time hiking with him. He camped near us in a torrential rain and booming thunderstorm and then got up earlier than us the next morning (which he had told us he'd probably do) and disappeared. It was a nice interlude and wasn't really much of an intrusion at all. But that's the only time I've picked up a "Klingon" and at least he was nice enough to ask us, so I guess I've been lucky!

Great thread, Suzy! Very thought-provoking.
“I don’t deny that there can be an element of escapism in mountaineering, but this should never overshadow its real essence, which is not escape but victory over your own human frailty.”

- Walter Bonatti
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