A brief rant

12:26 p.m. on May 20, 2013 (EDT)
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"Let's go backpacking....  No, I can't stand that lake because of all of the people, I want solitude... No I don't want to hike that far, its just too much stuff to bring, too far to hike and too many days to be gone."

Anyone else feel my frustration?  I think I'll just go and email them pictures later. 

4:34 p.m. on May 20, 2013 (EDT)
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A not so brief rant...

Some just have different things they want to do with their time.  The ones that irk me are folks who say they can’t make this trip, but ask for advance notice and they’ll be on the next one.  As it is, I give months advance notice for weekend trips, and six months or more for extended trips.  (In fact I am trying to get folks involved in a trip to Kern Hot Spring and thereabouts.  This trip has been in the planning stages for two years now; perhaps it’ll go summer of 2014.)  There is no excuse people forget they were invited: I inform folks via full-on multi-page brochures I publish, complete with maps, dates, photos, historical background, and most anything you could possibly want to know about the area and intended activities.  In any case I repeatedly remind folks of upcoming trips, up to the last minute when I must apply for the necessary permits.

A specific example is an in-law who I love camping with, and laments for a trip that is centered on fishing.  So last fall I send out an invitation for a hike scheduled this August to Evolution Lake, originating from Florence Lake.  This trip features excellent fishing along the entire hike.  So what does he do?  He schedules other activities then tells me he doesn’t have the free time available.  Give me a break!  I respect he prefers to do other activities or be with other folks, but man up and say so, don’t BS me with the no free time excuse.

The other type of clowns that irk me are the ones who provide an intial commitment, but then waffle out close to the departure date.  It is one thing to have plans disrupted by unforeseen contingencies, but some folks are serial wimp outs, to the point I consider their attendance as serendipitous, but I don’t make any significant accommodation, and inform them if they do decide to join in, they will have to get their own permits, food, and may have to provide their own transportation if no room is available on the vehicles currently committed.

Lastly there are the lip service crowd – those who are all enthusiastic about plans discussed over a beer, but leave that interest behind as they exit the bar.  I guess that is their way of saying I like you!

Ed

5:57 p.m. on May 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Once upon a time, some twenty years ago, I was staying with a guy who talked incessantly about the outdoors and all his experiences there. We went hunting small game once or twice, and I soon learned that he wasn't as knowledgable as he lead on. As winter approached we started planning a camping and ice fishing trip. He was thrilled at the prospect of getting into the back country and spending a couple of nights. The eve of our departure he was still talking about the trip. Morning comes, I have all my stuff packed and waiting by the door, and I asked him if he was ready. He said no then his face turned quite angry and he shouted, "You don't expect me to go walking through the snow do you!"

I wound up doing the trip myself. When I came back I packed up all my stuff and moved out. Lesson learned: while some are busy walking, others are busy talking.

6:29 p.m. on May 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Sometimes,  StoS, you just have to go ahead on your own. 

At least with groups I can require a non-refundable deposit. If I have to lay out cash ahead of time, I can make it 100%. Amazing how that cuts down on last-minute dropouts. 

Another choice I have is to have them make their own arrangements for accommodation or permits.

I got so tired of the kind of people you describe, that I just set up trips to make sure that, financially at least, I don't get stung. I have a larger pool of people to draw on though, so worrying about a best-buddy making up his mind isn't usually a concern. 

Show them the pictures afterwards just so they know what they missed. 

7:49 p.m. on May 20, 2013 (EDT)
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since it always was just me and my husband, I never had that problem. now it may change however, since my husband had knee surgery and it is doubtful he will be able to return. I may sign up for one of your hikes, peter! 

7:55 p.m. on May 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Most of my friends are old and tired.  About half of the ones that are left are undependable.  That leaves a small group that I still go out there with.

8:15 p.m. on May 20, 2013 (EDT)
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I’ve experienced a lot of the scenarios listed here and have found it often easier to just meet up with folks already out doing it, who share my interest. It’s also a primary reason I go solo so much despite the inherent risk of injury complications. Much of the time the hassle of hooking up with unreliable humans outweighs the risk for me.

Crazy as it is, I’ve met up with more people (and reliably so) from this very website than those who live in my home city/area. Some of them live several hundred miles from me and yet we can somehow converge and intersect in a wilderness somewhere while my local friends can’t or won’t.

Life is strange sometimes.

2 cents deposited

 

8:59 p.m. on May 20, 2013 (EDT)
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This is all part of dealing with group dynamics, albeit, before a trip. It is not uncommon. I have experienced the same things even when planning day trips and people bail at the last minute. There have also been occasions where, since I had initiated the trip, I felt like the guide who wasn't going to get a tip. On one expedition, we sorted the meals out the usual way...we each provide our own breakfast and lunch and then take turns with dinner. On this trip, one of the party had pretty narrow taste requirements...no allergies, just basically said when each of the others made a dinner, "I don't like this!" I got into the habit of saying, "If this is not to your liking, the rest of us will be happy to eat your share."

9:03 p.m. on May 20, 2013 (EDT)
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I plan a solo event, then invite those who might like the trip.  If nobody shows up.  I still go.  No hard feelings unless they were bringing the beer.

2:26 a.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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The hard part for me is getting people even interested in basic things like day hikes. Domestic life is rough for folks like us when you're partnered with a city-slicker who you have to beg just to go on a dayhike. The way I've learned to see it, my time out in the woods is me-time. It lets me get away from yard work, the day job, and society in general. It's where I feel at home and happy, rather than confined by four walls and longing to be somewhere else.

My big issue has been getting my son to tag along for even the shortest trips. He seems to think hauling gear just a mile is a huge burden, which he'd rather avoid for just one more night of suckling the electronic teat. On the rare occasion I can get him to willingly take part in something in the outdoors such as hiking, fishing, or shooting, he does seem to enjoy himself. The issue is convincing him that he will enjoy it, and dealing with the complaints when I tell him the electronic gizmos have to stay at home.

I've got a few friends I can depend on to go on trips once in a blue moon, but that's becoming more rare as careers and family life consumes them. That's just a part of getting older and trying to have the 2.5 kids and white picket fence, I suppose.

8:08 a.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Here's the soloist's version of this:

"Wow, I'm jealous, that sounds awesome, that must be great, I wish I could do that!"

"You can!"

"...nawww...I dunno..."

10:00 a.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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The comments here are very revealing.  I hear an experienced group of people with dedication to the outdoors that have the same trouble I do finding others with the same level of dedication.

"Talk comes cheap from a padded bar stool."

Paul Zarzyski

12:37 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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If you ain't happy being with with yourself, what causes you to think other people would be happy being with you.

I plan trips for myself and invite others along.  Whether or not the join me has nothing to do with my enjoyment of the trip.  Company is fun, but so is solitude.  So either way I'm satisfied.

3:12 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Oh, I've never had any of these things happen to me ;) 

Of course, all of us have or will have something genuinely interfere with plans, keeping us from attending trips, or even our own. But that ain't what were talkin' 'bout :) 

I used to have a much larger group of friends with whom I did outdoor stuff, but one by one they've all fallen by the wayside. I've concluded most weren't actually into it as much, but just went along on trips because that's what their group of friends did.

Now there's only one close friend who is as "dedicated" as I am, more so than I actually, and we mutually relish having a capable outdoor comrade.  Most of my brother's are nearly as enthusiastic and eager to get in the mountains as I, but with one in high school, two in college, and the other three having burgeouning families and  separated by hundreds of miles, it's not often that schedules mesh. 

Patman Said: 

Crazy as it is, I’ve met up with more people (and reliably so) from this very website than those who live in my home city/area. Some of them live several hundred miles from me and yet we can somehow converge and intersect in a wilderness somewhere while my local friends can’t or won’t.

Life is strange sometimes.

Haha! It is pretty comical. 

At this point, I don't really consider planing a trip with anyone who hasn't proven they love it as much as I do and can be relied upon.  Maybe it's selfish of me, but my meager time out there is just to precious to me to waste hounding and babysitting. 

11:27 p.m. on May 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Howlin_Hippie said:

..My big issue has been getting my son to tag along for even the shortest trips...

Ask StoS his technique; he has all his sons and daughters going out with him.

Yea, only a few kids in ANY generation take to the outdoors; it would be crowded otherwise.  But one way to coax him out is to invite his friend(s) to join you too.  They may not leave camp. but you'll have him closer to what you are trying to cultivate an interest in.  More bait, less boot.

Ed

 

1:12 a.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Hey North 1, very funny story. I like winter camping, but hate to be cold most of the time. Kind of ironic, but that's the way it is.

11:00 a.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Ed said:

Ask StoS his technique; he has all his sons and daughters going out with him.

My solution to the partner problem has been to grow my own!  It takes a while, its not cheap but its working for me so far. 

Mine start going with me in the backpack, before they can walk.  They don't know anything else.  "We're going to the mountains today," not, "Want to go to the mountains today?"

We don't have video games at home. I think this is a big help.  Plus the cost of a game system equals a set of crampons or a nice pack.

My oldest though (14) is asserting her independence and would rather rock climb than scramble in the mountains.  Her brother is the opposite of course.  That's fine.  My plan is to try lots of activities and stick to the ones they like.   

I understand that my way might not work for everyone's situation.

12:15 p.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Hey North 1, very funny story.

Yes, Tom it is funny...now. But, at the time I sure wasn't laughing. I find some people to be very vexing, and I was vexed. This is why I normally prefer to travel solo. As someone posted above, "Company is fun, but so is solitude." With all the people in this world it is very rare to be able to be by one's self, completely alone, and to see the world as it once was.

What I find interesting, and some have touched on this, is how people tend to define themselves by their hobies or careers. After much coaxing, I have told a few people about my travels in the north which have always garnered a varied response. Some have said, "I have never done that before but I know I could if I wanted to", while others have questioned my methods "why do you do it that way; why don't you do this instead." At times, everybody is an expert, everyone that is except the guy out there actually doing the hike. It seems it is not so much what you know but what you say you know. I guess that's why we have armchair quarterbacks.

 

 

 

12:24 p.m. on May 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Not too off topic here, but WHY do so many car-campers gloat about being lazy, and leaving their food/dirty kitchen about? Seriously, you don't understand that you are RIGHT NEXT TO a 900,000 acre wilderness area??? THAT HAPPENS TO HAVE A BLACK BEAR SANCTUARY?????? Go ahead & take a look at Facebook, they are self-proclaimed backcountry travelers, just like everybody.

Sorry, I'm just frustrated how it will end up being 'the bear's fault'...

End of my rant...

1:10 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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Put the tent up and stove out in the living room

1:11 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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You need a sherpa to carry the gear and a quad to wheel her in on

7:53 p.m. on June 1, 2013 (EDT)
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yeah it's the campers who have to bring their generator to run their coffee maker...uhhhhhh!

1:55 p.m. on June 3, 2013 (EDT)
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my most recent rant opportunity came during the major blizzard that whacked the Northeast last february, and i really didn't have much call to complain.  i was on my way up to the White Mountains as the storm brewed.  We were all game, but my wife (sitting home) was not.  despite that we were geared for the absolute worse weather, and would have been fine, i prevailed on my hiking partners to turn around.  i wasn't happy at the time, but conditions on the heights were pretty rough for a few days.  so my snowshoes got a workout on some flatland day hikes instead. 

i like the comment about 'growing' hiking partners.  my kids are 15, 13, and 10 now.  Like Sage, I introduced them to the trails in a kid carrier when they were too small to walk.  or complain.   now, i pick and choose my opportunities.  they would all prefer a soccer field to a trail at this point in their lives....but they all like a good hike from time to time, and my oldest surprised us with his enthusiasm for a hike up Mt. Katahdin last summer.  like anything else you grow, you have to fertilize and give them space. 

6:29 p.m. on June 4, 2013 (EDT)
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Better to have people cancel before hand, than to have them want to leave on the first sunday of a 10 day trip that left on the friday before, 25 miles in.....

I never did know how that was sipposed to be fixed.

8:43 a.m. on June 5, 2013 (EDT)
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I love to hike solo--but my wife gets so worried that something might happen to me, I have to wait until I can make my schedule work with someone else's. Frustrating!

October 22, 2014
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