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tiggermaxcocoa 05-21-10 03:33 PM

Camping etiquette: sharing your site with uninvited guests
 
This question may be more suited to a backpacking forum, but I'm going to ask anyway.

Last week my wife and I left work early to do an overnight backpacking trip in the National Forest by our house. The rules for camping in this forest is that you can go anywhere you want, as long as it's at least 50 feet off the trail. We arrived at a nice looking area about 6-7 miles in and decided to set up camp for the night. It was a pretty nice area, with a decent size clearing a little waterfall in view.

About 2 hours after we set up, a group of 3 hikers arrived at the site. They said, "Hope you two don't mind having some company for the night." They proceeded to walk around the site, tripping over guylines we had set up, looking for some room to add their tents. After a couple of minutes, my wife spoke up and basically asked them if they would leave, since an infinite number of "campsites" exist along the trail. She explained that we left work early and came out to have some solitude. They reluctantly left.

Has anyone else ever experienced something like this, on a bike tour or while backpacking? Did we handle this in the wrong way?

njkayaker 05-21-10 03:40 PM

I think it's generally understood (or should be) that people (already there) should be given privacy. Unless, there is a restriction that requires people to be next to each other.

Your "guests" appear to have been numbnuts.

It would have been polite (and customary) for them to have asked first.

a1rabbit 05-21-10 03:46 PM

I think they were wrong to just come up and decide they could share. You guys probably had the nicest spot and they wanted in on it too, which makes sense. I'd probably have been to docile to speak up like your wife did, I don't think she was wrong but if I had been there with you two I'd have felt guilty and embarrassed about sending them away. BUT, I'd be glad to have the spot back with some peace and quiet! lol, I'm just a softy in situations like that, in other situations I'm not a pushover, not even a little.

Backpackers, campers, etc. tend to like hanging around in groups for safety and social reasons. They probably felt guilty and embarrassed when they left too, that or mad, but life goes on and it will teach them a valuable lesson. Don't assume. Maybe if they'd sat down with you guys first to take a break and got to talking, you may have invited them to stay.

I think you guys handled it the right way for you at the time, come to think about it, if they started tripping over my stuff I'd be irked and might ask them to leave too.

rnorris 05-21-10 04:30 PM

I would have been annoyed at their intrusion as well, unless they were in some difficulty that would prevent them from finding another campsite. I've rarely encountered a situation like this in the backcountry- most people are more conscious of others' privacy and desire to focus on the natural setting when camping in the wilderness. There are times when I enjoy camping with large numbers of people, but I'll go to a public campground for that.

mulveyr 05-21-10 05:13 PM


Originally Posted by tiggermaxcocoa (Post 10847005)
This question may be more suited to a backpacking forum, but I'm going to ask anyway.

Last week my wife and I left work early to do an overnight backpacking trip in the National Forest by our house. The rules for camping in this forest is that you can go anywhere you want, as long as it's at least 50 feet off the trail. We arrived at a nice looking area about 6-7 miles in and decided to set up camp for the night. It was a pretty nice area, with a decent size clearing a little waterfall in view.

About 2 hours after we set up, a group of 3 hikers arrived at the site. They said, "Hope you two don't mind having some company for the night." They proceeded to walk around the site, tripping over guylines we had set up, looking for some room to add their tents. After a couple of minutes, my wife spoke up and basically asked them if they would leave, since an infinite number of "campsites" exist along the trail. She explained that we left work early and came out to have some solitude. They reluctantly left.

Has anyone else ever experienced something like this, on a bike tour or while backpacking? Did we handle this in the wrong way?

If the rules for the forest are that you can camp anywhere beyond a designated distance from the trail ( which is pretty common ), then both common sense and courtesy should have told them to ask you first, and then go elsewhere if you decline their company.

In areas where you have to camp only at designated sites, or where regulations specifically require you to share ( parts of the Adirondacks, especially in lean-to's ), then you're pretty much stuck with whoever shows up.

Cyclesafe 05-21-10 05:48 PM

Last summer on the Ice Fields I would have cyclists ask to share an established site I had paid for, then not offer to split the cost. I found that terribly rude. I think that in the future I would forgo anyone's company and tell anyone asking to mooch to instead occupy (and pay) for their own site. In the OP's situation I would tell them to get the hell out of dodge. Finder's keepers.

Rowan 05-21-10 06:38 PM

Machka and I blame day care centres.

Think about it...

StephenH 05-21-10 09:00 PM

Your wife did fine. The visitors should have kept going without being asked.

sknhgy 05-21-10 09:10 PM

While on an organized tour last summer we (over 100 of us) set up camp in a large park. There was plenty of room to spread out, but a man and his son set-up so close to me that if their parked bikes fell over they would have fell on me as I laid in my tent. I asked them to move the bikes and they complied. Some people either don't think or they have no concept of personal space and privacy.
It is good that your wife spoke up.

Rowan 05-21-10 09:51 PM


Originally Posted by sknhgy (Post 10848447)
Some people either don't think or they have no concept of personal space and privacy.
It is good that your wife spoke up.

Refer to post #7 as to why.

prathmann 05-21-10 10:40 PM


Originally Posted by tiggermaxcocoa (Post 10847005)
They said, "Hope you two don't mind having some company for the night." ?

Sounds like an invitation for the two of you to speak up if you disagreed.

BigBlueToe 05-23-10 10:14 AM

When backpacking I would never camp close to someone else - both for their privacy and mine. There's always another spot, though maybe not as desirable.

When bike touring I also like privacy, but lots of times you can't get it. Many of the hiker/biker spots I've been to consist of an open space with a picnic table or two. You pick a spot for your tent and share the table. While not my favorite setup, it's not bad. Most bike tourers go to sleep pretty early after a long day in the saddle and with another one scheduled for the next day. Also, I've made some friends who ended up being part of my tour.

Another case is when I've got a campsite and the campground is full. When bike tourers come and ask if they can share my spot, I'm thinking, "No!" but I always say yes. What if the shoe was on the other foot? I've never had a bad experience when I did this, and I've met some nice people. It's just that my natural inclination is for privacy.

Connell 05-23-10 05:34 PM

Last summer I backpacked up to a spot I had passed a number of times, but had never stayed at. It's idyllic, by a stream, in the shade, very tranquil, that kind of thing. It was midweek and as I'd been having a stressful time of it, was looking forward to a little quality time between myself and the natural world. I had no sooner got my tent up when another backpacker came a-lumbering up. "Mind if I join you?" he asked and without waiting for a reply, starting unpacking his gear. Right next to mine.

Me: "Uhm, yeah I kinda do."
Him: "Well too bad, it's a free country"
Me: "Yes it is, but there's plenty of room for both of us, without camping right on top of each other"
Him: "OK, I promise not to talk to you. How about that?"

So as he obviously wasn't planning to move, and as I had no desire to spend the evening with him, no talking or not, and as he was significantly bigger than me so the odds of me physically intimidating him into moving were slim, I ended up relocating to a spot further down the trail, which was pleasant enough, but not as good as the first one.

But, I still feel like I should have waited until he was asleep, then dropped a big rock on his head.

a1rabbit 05-23-10 06:20 PM


Originally Posted by Connell (Post 10854837)
But, I still feel like I should have waited until he was asleep, then dropped a big rock on his head.

Would be better to lock his zippers shut with a zip-strap and then collapse the tent on him. Not that I'd do that...

Better be fast at getting away.

Neil_B 05-24-10 02:24 AM


Originally Posted by Connell (Post 10854837)
Last summer I backpacked up to a spot I had passed a number of times, but had never stayed at. It's idyllic, by a stream, in the shade, very tranquil, that kind of thing. It was midweek and as I'd been having a stressful time of it, was looking forward to a little quality time between myself and the natural world. I had no sooner got my tent up when another backpacker came a-lumbering up. "Mind if I join you?" he asked and without waiting for a reply, starting unpacking his gear. Right next to mine.

Me: "Uhm, yeah I kinda do."
Him: "Well too bad, it's a free country"
Me: "Yes it is, but there's plenty of room for both of us, without camping right on top of each other"
Him: "OK, I promise not to talk to you. How about that?"

So as he obviously wasn't planning to move, and as I had no desire to spend the evening with him, no talking or not, and as he was significantly bigger than me so the odds of me physically intimidating him into moving were slim, I ended up relocating to a spot further down the trail, which was pleasant enough, but not as good as the first one.

But, I still feel like I should have waited until he was asleep, then dropped a big rock on his head.

Or stolen his bootlaces. Bill Bryson's companion in A Walk In The Woods did that to a bossy freeloader.

Booger1 05-24-10 10:04 AM

I get out the 10" buddy knife and start cleaning my fingernails.They start moving on after that.


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