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Re: Close Quarters

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Close Quarters
June 23, 2015 10:36AM
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?


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Re: Close Quarters
June 23, 2015 10:07PM
I would never camp near someone else when not in a "developed" camping area, such as the backpacker's campground at Merced Lake, popular JMT stops like the Woods Creek junction or Mono Creek, or other places that require the use of specific sites like Hamilton Lakes or Paradise Valley in SEKI. I do think that some people, for whatever reason, actually prefer to camp near others, or they just habitually camp at obviously impacted campsites near popular destinations. It's possible that backpackers new to an area may not know where to look to find more remote campsites--especially those that are far off trail--or may not even realize that a flat piece of smooth granite is a perfectly acceptable--if not preferable--campsite. Also, Yosemite and SEKI are unlike many national parks in that they allow for dispersed camping--other parks require camping in specific places only, so people used to this system may naturally just plop down next to others once at their destination.

Fortunately, with a little bit of exploration--and some creativity in tent pitching*--there are tons of camping options out there. Sometimes it takes a bit of work--they still kid me about this one trip where I backtracked a half mile or so to find a reasonable site, and then there's the time the pink bird and I spent an hour on the Buena Vista crest trying to find a perfect "10" site before settling for the 9.95 site we'd walked by.

Okay, now for the obligatory campsite pictures:

Remember, durable or previously-impacted areas only, leave no trace that you were ever there, and especially, don't build any new fire rings--all conveniently printed on the permit you signed.

* Pro Tip: Eat some food before attempting a challenging tent pitch--such as a TrailStar in strong winds on shallow sand:
avatar Re: Close Quarters
June 24, 2015 05:47AM
This was always a problem in the past. Get to a location at 4pm... setup shop.
Invariably some clowns walk in at 7pm... sometimes THRU your campsite... (m NOT kidding)
and plop 50 feet away...
The beauty of Yosemite is simply... (other than Yosemite is Better) ... is that
it is very big ... is part of this huge awesomeness that is The Sierra... and is
trivial to find solitood.
And of course there is ..
location location location
timing timing timing
elevation elevation elevation

Pro Tip: know east from west, up from down, left from other left
tongue sticking out smiley

and who duznt likey:

Have fun

Chick-on is looking at you!
avatar Re: Close Quarters
June 26, 2015 06:24PM
It's possible that backpackers new to an area may not know where to look to find more remote campsites

The last few years I've noticed a trend, at busy areas, for people to get very late starts and show up at or after sundown and start looking for a place to pitch a tent. I encountered it at Barlow over Memorial Day, I discussed an incident related to this in a Glen Aulin trip report for the last extremely wet year we had. I think some of these people simply don't have the daylight required to find anything better, but of course the real answer is "don't start your overnight hike at 5 PM".
Re: Close Quarters
July 16, 2015 07:28AM
Your post made me laugh! I have not really backpacked much, but I would try and set up camp farther away from the first person.

I do have a somewhat side-story, somewhat in the same vein. We just came back from spending a night at Snow Camp fire lookout in Oregon, my first time staying at a fire lookout. One of the main reasons I wanted to stay at a look out was that I am really bothered by noise when trying to sleep, and inevitably, when camping or staying in hotels, there is someone who is noisy. It's unavoidable. So I thought, great, fire lookout, no one will be there! Well, that turned out to be true; we were at least an hour away from anyone else, totally in the boonies, BUT it was NOT quiet. The wind howled all night, so incredibly loud, that sleep was hard to come by. I learned my lesson. Being away in nature did not translate to quiet. :-)
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