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Backpackers Etiquette.........

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Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby Packtofish » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:35 pm

So....here's a funny little story and an interesting situation I had on a short three day trip recently in the Clark Range.

My girlfriend and I got a late start and arrived at the trailhead around 4pm for a six mile hike into the first lake I wanted to camp at. We double timed it up to the lake and I was relieved to find only one other group at the lake and picked a nice spot on a granite spit between the upper and lower lake. The group of two adults and about six fairly young kids were all the way in the trees across the lower lake giving us each a good degree of solitude. I chose a camp out of sight but, I guess they must have seen us come down off the ridge, because no sooner than I had set up my tent the guy walks right into my camp and says "Great spot, didn't see it before......ya guys campin here?!" :-k

Holding back my urge to issue my best smartass retort, I said yes, and he then tells me he likes this side of the lake better because there are fewer mosquitoes and he thinks he and the kids will move over here in the morning........great......awesome.....I'm speechless.

So the next morning, bright and early, he's setting up his compound of tents not 100yds from my solitary encampment. I grumble and get on with making coffee to see if this will help my mood. It does and I decide that we can deal with it. They are camped close but, thankfully they are out of my line of sight, although I definitely know they are there. We decide to go take a long dayhike to go fish a little lake I enjoy and as we just finish loading up the daypack, guess what?........Three guys (with six more in tow) walk right into our camp and say "Great spot......Ya guys campin here?" ](*,) ](*,) I tell them yes, we are going to go fish somewhere else for the day, and we'll be back later. So they walk about 100yds and right in front of us and proceed to set up their camp. :retard:

At this point....I was about to blow a gasket, so I packed up all our gear and got the heck out of there. We x-country'd up to a little lake that I knew very few people go to and thankfully, had the place to ourselves for the night and next day till we left.

My question is this........What the hell are these people thinking?! I know that we weren't that far back in and I expected to see people, as we were within dayhiking range of the trailhead. I can't be the only one who goes into the backcountry to get away from people and even if I'm not the only one in the mountains, I want to feel like I am.

When entering an area where people are camped, I give their camps a wide berth. I try to keep my voice down and even stay out of sight if I can. I camp as far as reasonably possible from another party, out of respect for their experience and in the effort to preserve mine. If my tent is up, that is the equivalent of me shutting and locking my front door at home. I don't want you and your group to come shoot the **** with me while I'm cooking dinner. On the trail, or if I come across somebody fishing....totally different story. ******** away....have at it.

Damn....I starting to sound like a grumpy old bastard but, after this trip, and one last year where the same thing happened, I am just totally amazed at the lack of etiquette and consideration. Is this the new crop of backcountry users? I know there are probably more users that subscribe to my philosophy than not........I just didn't run in to any of them on this last trip!

Rant over......Thanks for listening, I feel much better now. :D

~D



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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby Snow Nymph » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:45 pm

I'm the same way. When we did the JMT, we always moved on if someone was camped where we planned. We even planned to skip Vermillion to stay away from civilization. We were at a campground once, the only vehicle there, and someone pulled up later and parked at the next campsite! ](*,) Good for you finding another spot, sounds like it was a better place anyway. :D
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby JMat » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:04 pm

I'm a firm believer that if I get to the destination last it's my loss if I get the crappiest campsite and I make sure it isn't right next to someone else.

A few weeks back I went out with a couple other guys from this site and we had the same problem except these people set up their closest tent not 40' from ours... They were nice enough and all but I thought it was utterly disrespectful. The real kicker on this deal was there were 2 of them and they had seperate tents but there tents were almost farther apart than they were to ours.

It seems we just can't escape the big city at all anymore.

JMat
Last edited by JMat on Thu Jul 17, 2008 6:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby Timberline » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:45 pm

Hey, Packtofish,
I'm not sure what's the best course, or even how to read the signs consistently, although I share your sentiments about unwanted intrusion. =; A little perspective, if I may. . . When my son and I camped at 4th Recess a few years back, a bunch of guys walked, literally, right through our campsite and took up residence next door. A little nonplussed at first, we wandered over to try and offer a friendly vibe by introducing ourselves. :) :thumbsup: Turned out to the one of the most treasured chance encounters I've ever experienced in the backcountry, one that both my son and I remember with great fondness. They turned out to be friendly, warmly generous people who opened their hearts to us, and enriched our backpack experience by doing so. Our simple overture was returned as a real blessing.

Next day, they moved on, and another, solo guy, sure enough, marched through our campsite and set up housekeeping next door. We waited politely a little while, and then, innocently, perhaps, went over to introduce ourselves, like before. The guy gave us a surly look, turned his back, and wouldn't even acknowledge our presence, making it instantly clear he was not interested in ANY contact. :angry: :thumbsdown: :mad: We were totally shunned, and returned to our own camp chagrined. What a contrast! :(

I guess I'm still inclined, if I sense any receptivity, to reach out to folks, but with respect, as I presume you would, too. The folks you describe seemed to have no respect for others at all. [-X Its just that the opportunity to share a wilderness experience with a complete stranger who may become a friend sometimes can be worth the risk, and on balance I've been blessed from these encounters much more than rejected. Your choice of a distant campsite should have been enough to convey the message. You're entitled to your space, and if that's what you want, I'll try to be one of those who does not invade it. That's my position, and I'm stickin' to it!

At least I can enjoy the exchanges here. I enjoy your posts, thanks! :nod:
Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby Greengrassmonk » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:45 pm

I feel your pain. Twice in the last two weeks I've had people move closer to me after I've stopped to relax at a lake. Its almost like they wanted to join me. I think its very inconsiderate. Playing with my knife seems to help keep them away.
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby caddis » Wed Jul 16, 2008 8:55 pm

Packtofish wrote:My question is this........What the hell are these people thinking?! I know that we weren't that far back in and I expected to see people, as we were within dayhiking range of the trailhead. I can't be the only one who goes into the backcountry to get away from people and even if I'm not the only one in the mountains, I want to feel like I am.
I think the difference is, you are a backpacker, you enjoy the solitude and understand the basic principle of leave no trace(which includes the idea of keeping a low profile and respecting other hikers privacy). They are hiking campers....straight out of the campround, and RV's, generators, parties,... The closer you get to a trailhead, the less people understand with respect to common sense, etiquette, rules, procedures, etc... They are the reason why we get grilled and killed with lectures and rules whenever we get a wilderness permit.....Thank an idiot.
Last edited by caddis on Fri Jul 18, 2008 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby Packtofish » Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:21 am

caddis wrote:
Packtofish wrote:My question is this........What the hell are these people thinking?! I know that we weren't that far back in and I expected to see people, as we were within dayhiking range of the trailhead. I can't be the only one who goes into the backcountry to get away from people and even if I'm not the only one in the mountains, I want to feel like I am.
I think the difference is, you are a backpacker, you enjoy the solitude and understand the basic principle of leave no trace(which includes the idea of keeping a low profile and respecting other hikers privacy). They are hiking campers....straight out of the campround, and RV's, generators, parties,... The closer you get to a trailhead, the less people understand with respect to common sense, etiquette, rules, procedures, etc... They are the reason why we get grilled and killed with lectures and rules whenever we get a wilderness permit.....Thank and idiot.


I think that pretty much sums it up.......Although my previous experience was a three day hike in so, distance does not guarantee serenity in the Sierra. Fwiw.....Although I've spent far less time in the wilderness of Montana and Wyoming, I've never had this experience there......There seems to be a different mentality going on up there in the backcountry as opposed to the Sierra. Interesting that it seems to be a common experience in the sierra though. I was beginning to think I was tool magnet. :D

I really enjoy meeting like minded people in the backcountry, although I have to admit, I'm most satisfied when I don't see a soul. Not because I'm anti-social, but because that's why I walk for fifty miles with forty lbs on my back.

Well...back to work.
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby maverick » Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:18 am

Hi Packtofish

If you really want solitude especially in areas that are easily reached in one
day or are very popular than go cross-country to and un-named lake or stream, you'll
have all the solitude you can ask for.
Most hikers never go off trail or do x-country routes because they there afraid/intimidated
of the unknown and its much more convenient to follow a trail and camp near fellow
human beings.
Otherwise you'll just have to put up with it.
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby markskor » Thu Jul 17, 2008 11:27 am

Interesting topic, one that touches home for me often.

I usually hike solo - much of it off trail to remote lakes high up, often for 12 days out. I hike for the solitude, and the fishing. When I set up camp at such a lake, I spend much of my non-backpacking time fishing and exploring around the remote lake, and usually see others coming in long before they spot me. I have learned to read others and treat every encounter differently.

Couples or small family groups are different creatures from solo hikers…I usually just say hi to these when passing bye and leave it at that…and stay/ camp far away in my own world. While I would never camp close to another party without being invited into their “sanctum”, many times other solo hikers will let you know if they want company, or if they want to be left alone. Some of my most memorable Sierra adventures start with a chance trail meeting of someone similar (solo), saying hi, hitting it off, and making a new mountain friend. Maybe it is an un-written recognition of like-minded individuals, but I have had some of my best mountain experiences when fishing, spending a day, or a meal with someone equal, equipped, and unknown…15 miles in.

Respect, common sense, and a good attitude…that and 15 minutes of trail conversation before you drop your pack…you can usually tell who likes what. The best part of being self-contained is that the Sierra is vast, and you can always pack up and leave.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Postby giantbrookie » Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:18 pm

I've certainly experienced the good and the bad of neighbors at mountain camp spots. Like many I have had some chance encounters with folks off trail (that camped near me) that were marvelous and among the highlights of all my backcountry trips. On the other hand, I recall this time I was camped at a trailless lake in the north Sierra. A large group who apparently didn't really know what they were doing (it took them the entire afternoon to make the final off trail descent to the lake that should take about 15 minutes) arrived at the far side of the lake where there were abundant campsites. Instead of camping there they circled the lake and moved in right next to us (without saying so much as saying boo to us, so they apparently didn't move to our side of the lake to socialize). Adding to the insult was when their rather loud dog (and I do like, dogs, so this isn't an anti-dog statement) walks into the middle of our camp, squats and poops. I agree with what has been said above that the more remote spots tend to weed out most of the ill mannered among hikers, which is why I have rarely had unpleasant encounters like the above. It probably also helps that I have a habit of camping much further from lakes than most people do because I like more open, exposed (and less buggy) campsites.
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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