Backpackers Etiquette.........

Backpacking and camping basics and other general trip planning discussion for the uninitiated. Use this forum to learn where to look for the information you need, and to ask questions, related to the beginner basics of backpacking and camping, including technique and best practices.
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Timberline
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Post by Timberline » Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:59 pm

Hey, Buck!
Gosh, is this multiple choice? Then I'll take e) you bet!
Sorry, Tom! :D


Let 'er Buck! Back in Oregon again!






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

Post by maiathebee » Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:07 pm

Bumping this really old thread because it happened to me recently on a solo trip in Dusy Basin. I grabbed an absolutely perfect spot to set up camp and wandered around taking pictures and soaking in the immense beauty of the basin. I was surrounded on all sides by nearly-to-over 14k peaks, amidst a rocky meadowland that I had entirely to myself.

That is, until a couple walked right through my camp as I was cooking dinner. I think they were surprised to see me. I said hello and they said hi back and walked on. I heard the girl say “What do you think? Down there?” And I started to worry a bit a bit. The walked not 50 yards and dropped their packs on an illegal spot literally on top of the lake between me and it, between me and my beloved Isosceles and Columbine Peaks. On the flat spot you see right in the middle of this picture:

ImageIsoceles and Columbine Peaks above the westernmost lake in upper Dusy Basin by snackronym, on Flickr

Well I just couldn’t handle it. With this whole basin empty, with literally dozens of perfect, secluded campsites to be had at this very lake, why on earth would they choose this one? I put my dinner on hold and walked down to where they were resting, hoping to catch them before they started unpacking gear. I politely told them that, in my exploring, I’d seen a bunch of other much better campsites where they could have privacy (rather than me looking directly down on them) and we chatted a bit. They understood and moved on. They would be the last people I’d see until I crossed back over Bishop Pass on my way out 42 hours later. I had my sense of solitude again (knowing that they were nearby, but at least not anywhere I could see, so I could suspend disbelief) and I ran around taking pictures as the sun was setting. It was glorious!

So instead of huffing and being silently annoyed, try just talking to the people. You might get your solitude back!
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Post by rlown » Thu Jul 10, 2014 7:21 pm

funny.. at Boothe we had a race. We were walking in, and this guy decided he'd run ahead to secure his spot. Boothe. ughh. anyway. he dropped his pack after running in front of us 4, so we circled up on the rise 50yds above him. At one point in talking with him, he suggested (not at his campsite yet before the run) we go to the west side. That didn't happen. He moved.

Umm, yes! speak up! Make a friend or a foe. That all depends on the engagement.

One apologizes for walking in on someone when traversing a lake. One doesn't usually apologize for a 50 yd intrusion on camping (ok still discussion there). I like the discussions.

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

Post by SSSdave » Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:47 pm

maiathebee wrote:...With this whole basin empty, with literally dozens of perfect, secluded campsites to be had at this very lake, why on earth would they choose this one? ...
This is the perspective of your image at the center cross hairs:

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.10315,-118.55372&z=15&t=T" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

That is the only upper basin lake the trail passes by so always has the majority of groups hiking the trail camping by it. When one looks at images of Dusy Basin on Google or Yahoo images, you will see the majority are taken from that lake. Of course there are better views elsewhere but most backpackers rarely venture far from trails and rarely camp anywhere except at lakes which is hillarious to this person. I'm glad you said something to the couple because unless people that ignore policy get peer pressure from the rest of us which may embarass them, they are likely to continue plopping down in such places. Otherwise there are far too few backcountry rangers to make much an impact. So thanks.

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

Post by Hobbes » Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:04 am

Well, not to get all zen and everything, but disappointment comes from (unfounded) expectations.

With regard to the Sierra, one of the biggest misconceptions - which leads to unrealistic expectations - is that it represents some kind of remote, pristine wilderness. Not even close; unlike the Himalayas or Andes, the Sierra are a highly developed, easily accessed range that is available to millions of people.

Consider Dusy basin for example. I would posit that even the worst, out-of-shape hikers fresh from their local REI could make it up & over Bishop pass to that lake within 2 days. In this context, it's not really any different than Yosemite valley, with the exception that trails do eliminate the morbidly obese in their electro-carts.

So the general solution is to move on to more remote, x-c lakes & basins in an attempt to ensure more solitude. But there's a big however - and that's that this 'solution' ignores the growth in thru-hiking (which is destined to only accelerate with the movie version of Wild coming out), and the development of uber-hikers who are so strong that they can whip off 25-30 mile (trail) days without a sweat.

And what do a lot of these PCTers remark upon after their hike is completed? You guessed, how beautiful the Sierra were, with many agreeing it was the highlight of their trip. So guess where they want to go again to explore in further detail?

I approach the Sierra like I approach a good surf day in SoCal - expect a crowd, and be pleasantly surprised if you catch a window of (relative) solitude.

Consider how long the Sierra have been occupied/developed: the Tioga road was purchased by Mather on behalf of the park from a defunct mining operation near Saddlebag (Bennetville). Muir himself thought he was achieving solitude, only to find shepherds had already claimed every good alpine meadow, which their flocks were busily destroying, and this was 150 years ago.

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

Post by AlmostThere » Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:22 am

If I don't go on the popular trails, I don't see people. There are still places I can be with a friend by ourselves for days on end. People know where Half Dome (ugh) is, they have no idea where Colt Lake is, and that's pretty much ok by me.

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

Post by maiathebee » Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:05 am

SSSdave wrote:
maiathebee wrote:...With this whole basin empty, with literally dozens of perfect, secluded campsites to be had at this very lake, why on earth would they choose this one? ...
That is the only upper basin lake the trail passes by so always has the majority of groups hiking the trail camping by it. When one looks at images of Dusy Basin on Google or Yahoo images, you will see the majority are taken from that lake.
Oh yeah, I was definitely not expecting to be alone at that lake! (I planned two nights with the first one there and the second one farther over by Knapsack Pass, where I expected and found more solitude.) My objection was not them setting up at the same lake as me, but for their disregard as to how they chose their campsite. They plopped down right next to me, between me and the lake out in the open marring my view, directly on the shore of the lake despite backcountry camping regulations.
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Re: Backpackers Etiquette.........

Post by bbayley80 » Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:10 am

[quote="Hobbes"]
I approach the Sierra like I approach a good surf day in SoCal - expect a crowd, and be pleasantly surprised if you catch a window of (relative) solitude.

well said Hobbes. thats a great analogy.
as both a SoCal surfer(aren't we all :\ ) and backpacker i too get frustrated with the crowds and clueless folks in both the Sierra and Pacific but those moments of solitude and utter beauty of the locale sure do make up for it.

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

Post by DavePloessel » Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:28 am

Slight tangent on the original post/different thoughts:

If you are at a lake that is only 200 yards long and camped in the middle of the shoreline, of course you will have people camping within 100 yards of you.

Different people have different comfort zones (Now that I'm older and grumpier, I often give people the "circles" talk {"everyone has a circle around them, you're in mine." being the short version}), and to some, camping within 100 yards isn't a big deal, and may even provide that false sense of security some people need, after all there are bears in them thar hills...

At popular lakes, if there are ten groups and 100 yards of usable ground, you are going to have to share at close proximity. It is insanely selfish to expect others to march on after it gets dark just because you got there first. Not everyone is capable of safe travel after dark, and to expect others to put their party at risk over you wanting solitude is...

At many backcountry destinitations, there are already well established areas where people camp. Usually close together. It might be a little annoying to share, but if you are in a high traffic area, my personal thought is that it's better (LNT wise) to use these already established areas, even if you sacrifice a little solitude, than it is to go create a new site.

And finally, if you want uninturrupted solitude: go off trail! I think I can safely assume that most of the regulars here have seen the weird hyptonizing effect trails have on 99% of the people out there.. It's like they are stuck on a train track and just can't get the concept of travel perpendicular to the trail, and I for one love it!!! The op did the exact right thing by going off trail to get the solitude he wanted.

I'm saying this all completely respectfully, just hoping to offer a different viewpoint.

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Backpackers Etiquette.........

Post by themappist » Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:43 am

@Markstor you've expressed a great approach and attitude.

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