Close Quarters | High Sierra Topix  

Close Quarters

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
User avatar

Close Quarters

Postby balzaccom » Tue Jun 23, 2015 10:36 am

On our last backpacking trip, after spending a couple of days off trail and away from people, we arrived at a nice lake that is on a regular trail, seven miles in from the trailhead. Yep, we were going to have company here.

So we set up camp on a sandy ridge to the northwest of the lake, nestling our small grey tent in among a cluster of small trees. It was nicely obscured from view. That was a mistake. Nobody saw us there, and as other hiking groups arrived, they set up camp right next door. By nightfall we had four other groups camping near us, including two who were within 75 feet. The rest of the lake was empty, except for one group of young men on the far side.

So here's the question. When you arrive at a lake, which campsite do you take? If there is nobody there, do you take the best one? We do. But if someone is already set up at the best campsite do you take the second best site, even if it is quite close to the first one? Or do you follow the bus seating rule, which says that you take the site farthest from the person who is already set up?

And if you are third? Do you fill in the space, or do you try to find something farther away?
Balzaccom

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/



User avatar
balzaccom
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1290
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 9:22 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby Big Ed » Tue Jun 23, 2015 11:48 am

If the best site is obscured, I'd still take it. I'd do something to flag my presence though, if concerned about close neighbors. Hang something from a tree.
User avatar
Big Ed
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:00 pm
Location: Fresno, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:07 pm

What is the "best" campsite will vary between individuals. Reality is despite recommended policy against such, that the majority of campsites around lakes are right beside trails and not much more than the minimum 100 foot distance from the edge of lakes. In fact many well used sites at lakes are only 100 feet as measured by dwarf and midget's feet especially in national forest wilderness.

Since I don't like being near other groups, don't have the usual magnetic fixation of camping close to lakes, don't need a well manicured camp with log and rock furniture, nor really flat bump free tent spots, nor some elaborate stone campfire pit masterpiece, am likely to ignore all the obvious used sites and find something more remote. Oh we do sometimes camp in such spots but that is only when we are far out at remote destinations where we don't expect any others.

Recall a decade or so ago, 2 of us arrived at one of the more popular Darwin Canyon lakes. No other groups were around and we unwisely set up gear in an area of stunted whitebark pine next to the use route that had numbers of other campspots rather densely nearby. Well by late in the afternoon several other groups had arrived and ALL of them were communing by us. Finally a group of 3 arrived and plunked down on the other side of our trees.

We picked up gear piecemeal over 2 or 3 trips and crossed the stream opposite the north use route trail side where no groups, nada, zilch were. In other words every group that arrived on the trail after us noticed where people and groups were set up then commenced to join despite often being less than 100 feet from others. None bothered to go across the stream, down at other ends of our lake on the trail side, nor climb up to the bench about 100 feet above. All noticed where groups seemed to be plunking down and joined that gregarious behavior apparently without any consideration.

Same kind of thing happened a few years ago on the shores of East Lake. So those and a few other such experiences over the decades has taught me to NOT to camp at well used beat up sites unless it is too much hassle not too. And that most groups ironically prefer to camp in such "lake and trail side cities" versus the otherwise vast empty areas of wilderness. The largest such I know about is the (ridiculous to me) concentration one finds along the trail on the northeast end of Thousand Island Lake. Why do so many have that behavior?

David
http://www.davidsenesac.com/Summer_2015 ... 015-1.html
Last edited by SSSdave on Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby Big Ed » Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:33 pm

There are many types of people, for all they knew you "wanted" company/conversation. I think if something is that important to us we need to communicate it, or be prepared to pick up and move.

I went by Thousand Island Lake once, and what you said really struck me. I've never seen that many people in the wilderness. They were shocked that I'd never been there before, like that was the only place to go or something.
User avatar
Big Ed
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:00 pm
Location: Fresno, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby freestone » Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:57 pm

Why do some many have that behavior?


Because they do not participate on this forum.

Another reason could be the area is lacking in flat ground. No one likes to sleep on a slant. if there are trees, the guy with the hammock rocks!
User avatar
freestone
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 571
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 9:42 pm
Location: Santa Barbara
Experience: Level 1 Hiker

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:06 pm

I would not have expected solitude, by staying at a lake on the main trail, only a few miles from the trailhead, especially at what Dave called a "best campsites" area. It is just human habit, not only to seek out convenience, but also to congregate, these are habits we humans are used to back in the civilized world, and most cannot shed this, even if they are in the wild.
If one is expecting solitude in such an environment, then they must take steps to ensure it, camp at a further distance from the shores, away from organized campsites, on the less popular or more rugged side of the lake, somewhere near the inlet creek, but a distance from the lake.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
User avatar
maverick
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
 
Posts: 8038
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby Brien » Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:27 pm

I guess I've always been lucky. I seem to get the spots I want and haven't encountered any nearby neighbors. When backpacking I really like my solitude and if I see someone in the area I'm looking at I'll just keep walking. Eventually I'll find a nice spot still within a short walk to a water source.
User avatar
Brien
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 71
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2013 10:41 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby cslaght » Tue Jun 23, 2015 3:34 pm

I must say, I am pretty much in agreement with the desire of solitude. I am not in any way, shape, or form a "congrager" (whatever that word is!). Lately, my trips have been in pairs, and have not had really an issue with people camping next to us. Weaver Lake in Jennie was a bit crowded with my wife and I a couple of years ago, we were there first and had the lake to ourselves except for a group of boyscouts that were daytripping on the other side. As the afternoon wore on, other people filled up with most of the established sites the west shore, but we still had our solitude. Whomever I'd go with, we always sought out a little rougher, farther, less convenient area precisely to avoid such experiences. The worst (and a learning experience, though it wasn't so bad) was Memorial weekend 2009, my family (4 of us) had Mehrten Meadow (Alta trail out of Wolverton) to ourselves on Friday night. Saturday, there weren't less than 30 people there, camping right on top of us. A bit annoying and inconvenient, but not the worst thing that can happen. So, if there's a vote, count me in for solitude! :whistle:
User avatar
cslaght
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:15 am
Location: Visalia, CA
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby DavePloessel » Tue Jun 23, 2015 4:39 pm

the above problems are one of the main reasons I prefer OFF trail or less traveled areas. I (we) go to the mountains to get away from it all. Sometimes, you are left with little choice (crowded weekends, limited water sources, etc) and conditions crowd people together. in thise instances, if I am "first" to an area, I pick best site. If I am second, third, 4th, (shudder) 5th, I prefer to continue hiking, but if conditions force me to stop, I pick the farthest practical spot from anyone who has arrived before me. It's common courtesy (plus I HATE it when you have an entire lake and someone sets up 5 feet away and wants to chat).

Notable exceptions would be when setting up in an are that has a designated "camping area" and setting up elsewhere would cause unjustifiable damage to the area around you.

my take.
User avatar
DavePloessel
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:53 am
Location: sandy eggo
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby sekihiker » Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:15 pm

I don't usually go out during holidays except maybe July 4 and I've never seen anyone in the back country on July 4. I've been out for six days this summer and have seen just two people, a man and his son.
User avatar
sekihiker
Founding Member
 
Posts: 269
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Location: Fresno
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby Big Ed » Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:09 am

A lot of my trips have been solo, I find it's normal for myself and other solo hikers to want to chat. We haven't had anyone to share the experience with, plus if we're going in opposite directions we can help eachother with information. In 03 I was doing Florence to Roads End in mid June, I ran across another solo hiker in Leconte Canyon that was doing South Lake to Whitney Portal. We spent four days hiking and camping together, until I had to go down Bubbs Creek. Worked out great, others on the trail that encountered us thought we started out together.
User avatar
Big Ed
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:00 pm
Location: Fresno, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Close Quarters

Postby Hobbes » Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:34 pm

If you go to any of the popular spots in Yosemite, Mammoth & SEKI, you're not going to have it to yourself - it's just that simple. Hiking a popular trail that doesn't require much exertion is a guaranteed recipe for crowded conditions. To make matters worse, the greater the crowd, the lower the probability your neighbors will share a similar HST backcountry ethic. So the solution is two-fold, either:

- avoid popular trails and/or
- increase the physical requirements

But how many people actually put in the training time & effort to actually get away? It's not like you just show up @ Parker, McGee, Pine, Shepherd, etc on a whim. And yet, if you do hike those trails, not only are the numbers lower, but those you may happen to meet have also purposely made it a point to travel those less traveled routes (ie will have trained & prepared), and will have the same sense of personal space as you yourself do.

As for me, I'm pretty flexible; I don't mind going to crowded places if that's where I'm going. That is, I KNOW I'm going there. On the other hand, I train a bit to be able to take off and do other things that are more challenging. Variety is the spice of life.
User avatar
Hobbes
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 678
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:09 am
Location: The OC
Experience: N/A

Next

Return to The Campfire



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests