visual impact

10:46 a.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Lets talk about the visual impact of color polution in the wilds. I would love to hear other opinions on the idea that colors that are earth tone enhance the fealing of hiking and backpacking being less crouded, or that vivid colors that stand out in the wilds detract from one`s wilderness experience.

11:24 a.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Yes, Ilike my equipment to blend in, I choose clothing that has earth tones like green and brown. Sometimes it is difficult to see the country side when there is bright tents and equipment out there. My current tent is yellow but thats because its the color it comes in. My last one was green and only stood out on open bedrock.

11:42 a.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Brad,

All colors have an impact, and the impact can be both positive or negative depending on the conditions, circumstances, or what the objective of choosing that color is.

I don't think we can say that bright colors always detract from a positive wilderness experience, bright colors are often used for visibility. Sometimes visibility helps keep us safe, take for instance wearing brightly colored parkas or shells when out in deep snow, or hunter orange, or even brightly colored guy lines on a tent. Staying safe results in a positive outdoor experience when compared to being lost , injured, sick, etc.

On the other hand, and more to what I think you are asking about. Being able to blend in to the wilderness provides less visual impact in the moment we are there, likewise LNT principles do the same thing as we leave an area, they preserve a pristine wilderness experience for other users.

For those who want a feeling of solitude, or to feel as though they have stepped back in time nothing ruins that experience / illusion more than a bunch of bright colors, loud talking, radios, fire rings, and so on. I feel the same way, but it is also helpful to have a balanced view of the impact colors actually do have on staying safe.

On a less serious note, let me relay an incident that happened while I was backpacking with a good friend of mine. His trail name is Lighthouse, a very laid back, funny guy. LH decided it would be humorous to bring along one of those little yellow and orange umbrellas you wear on your head like a hat. Sure enough it rained on us, and to my surprise the umbrella hat worked quite well, albeit making him look ridiculous.

As the little umbrella hat was lying on the ground to dry off, a Hummingbird flew to it and took a good look, then flew off. Shortly afterwards another did the same thing. This happened several times, and all we could figure is that the Hummingbirds thought it was a huge flower.

Was that negative or positive? Well it was a funny moment for us, but the Hummingbird was wasting precious energy I suppose.

12:13 p.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Frankly, I tend to think that complaints of "color polution" are a little ridiculous. Do you want to actually be alone in the backcountry or do you want to be deceived into believing you're alone? Those are two very different things and they're accomplished in different ways.

Being actually alone requires serious experience, skill and ingenuity. Getting to, and enjoying, truly remote places requires that you know what you're doing, where you're going, and how to get back safely. Colin Fletcher was a huge advocate of getting out and enjoying nature alone, and he himself suggested that this often requires trekking off-trail and into relatively unknown areas. To earn this privilege requires the aforementioned experience, skill, and ingenuity, otherwise you're going to find yourself in trouble.

I think what many people are really complaining about with "color polution" is that their favorite obscure places just aren't so ocscure anymore. For whatever reason, more people are on more trails and in more campsites than there once was. The reasons for this are wide and varied, most recently I think due to the desire for less expensive vacations, but the effect is that the old timers are suddenly vying for space in places they didn't often have to even share before.

You know, I get it. People have been seeking solitude for millennia, but this search has always been the same. Find a place. Enjoy for a while. Others come. Move on. Ironically, it's this influx of people that will ultimately save the existence of our cherished natural areas. Lets not forget that even the Grand Canyon might have went the way of Hetch Hetchy before its popularity got the attention of President Teddy Roosevelt.

5:06 p.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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As a personal aesthetic preference I tend to choose earth tones or muted greens if available. And with other colors I tend to gravitate towards versions that are "burnt" or muted.

But I have to recognize that these are completely personal and of no real relevance. Amazingly bright colors are found in the flora and fauna of nature, and no one is offended by those. So any source of offense has to be psychologically produced though associations of what those colors are attached to, and/or the personal emotional preconceptions that one has developed towards them.

Don't get me wrong, I think I would be annoyed if I came out into a pristine backcountry location and every piece of someone's gear consisted of clashing, garish, neon colors. But I have yet to come across anything like that. The brightest outdoor items I have seen available were respectively: burnt orange, citron green, cobalt blue, garnet red, and warm yellow. I am sure if you paired all of those together the effect would be quite intense, and there are probably people who do, but I have yet to come meet them.

Solitude and "aloneness" are often things that I definitely go into the backcountry to seek, and I may be disappointed when I encounter more people than I expected. However, I am never offended by the presence of other people. Their behavior may offend, and I may find their taste to sometimes be poor, but neither their presence itself or their personal aesthetic preferences are sources of offense.

I once mistook a patch of Flaming Azalea in bloom for someone wearing a brightly coloured shirt. Man was I pi$$ed when I discovered some cheeky little shrub had deceived me!

;)

5:25 p.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Good points guys,

I don't care if someone sets up a yellow tent within sight of my camp, it doesn't bother me, my personal taste would be for olive or tan if I had a choice. My tent is blue, because that's what color it came in.

I guess bright colors and noise can have an accumulative effect, but if I feel an area is crowded, I keep hiking.

If you want real solitude you just have to leave the trail system sometimes.

5:57 p.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Good points guys,

I don't care if someone sets up a yellow tent within sight of my camp, it doesn't bother me, my personal taste would be for olive or tan if I had a choice. My tent is blue, because that's what color it came in.

I guess bright colors and noise can have an accumulative effect, but if I feel an area is crowded, I keep hiking.

If you want real solitude you just have to leave the trail system sometimes.

Im with Trout on this one.....

Its hard to get the gear you want in earth tones sometimes and for the most part my gear colors are not very bright and colorful. But then again bright colors have there uses as-well. If I was lost someplace I would dig in my pack and put my bright red t-shirt on hoping maybe some one would see it and use some other bright color gear that I have as a marker / signal. And as Trout said if there is to many people around for my liking I just move on down the trail or move off the trail, typically I like a little more solitude than to have other people in line of sight on the camping area I am borrowing.

6:21 p.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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I wear Hawaiian shirts in the backcountry because they are playful, COLORFUL, pardy the tourist notion of trekking, and just happen to be an excellent alternative to pricy teck wicking fabrics. I used to buy tents with an eye toward low visual impact; but now consider that totally secondary to function. My current summer tent is a huba in muted orange; my 4 season tents are older; a yellow Northface 2 man V23, and a light silver 4 man Sierra Design dome. My packs were chosen totally on functionality: a 1970s bright red Kelty Sonora 4200 cu in (external frame); and a green with red side panels Wilderness experience expedition bag, 6700 cu in (internal frame). My stuff sack and swag are chosen primarily per design considerations. Thus I currently am not too PC when it comes to blending in, color-wise.

At one time I used to think color choices were a relevant backcountry etiquette criterion, but experience has taught me people’s tents are usually concealed by the landscape, and when viewed from above, appear as insignificant specs. I think camp colors as a nuisance factor fall really low on pragmatic back country etiquette issues, all things considered. Personally I have yet to meet someone who is bothered other’s camp color themes, and believe a large part of this issue has more to do with merchandising than anything else. Otherwise I agree with Yock’s comments, this is more about the illusion of isolation and seclusion, versus actually camping in a isolated and secludes destination.

At the other extreme there equally valid arguments favoring contrasting colors, especially in the fourth season, when being able to spot camp through bad weather is critical. But even in perfect summer weather I kind of like being able to spot my neighbor’s camp at a glance, so I can more discretely avoid crowding them, and vise versa.
Ed

6:44 p.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Actually, I get more annoyed by the supermacho types wearing camo. Some of them wear desert camo in the deep green woods, and others wear jungle camo in the desert. My reaction tends toward "and your point is?"

As noted above, all the colors seen in clothing, tents, and more occur in nature - blue skies, bright yellows and oranges in flowers (we have bright orange California fuschias in bloom right now in our California native plant landscape, along with bright lavendars). The native California State Flower is bright orange, and just a month ago, the hills were ablaze with their blooms. There are still lots of blue lupens around. The greens of the spring are turning to the yellows and browns of high flammability fuel (fire season is upon us, with its red and yellow flames). On the trail I hiked today, there were the reddish brown barked redwoods, with many of the open spaces occupies by the bright-red barked madrones (sometimes referred to as the "refigerator tree" for the icey cold feel of the trunks, even on hot summer days). The manzanitas ("little apples" in Spanish), close relatives of the madrone, also have a red bark, plus various shades of green leaves (depending on which subspecies of manzanita).

While we get the vivid colors of springtime wildflowers, one thing I miss about our years in New England were the flaming yellows, oranges, and bright reds of the fall foliage in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Gaspe Peninsula.

And what colors was I wearing today on the hike? My usual Tan pants and a dark brown Access Fund T-shirt, plus carrying a black pack. Note in my avatar, I am wearing black, white, and tan (the sled was not my sled, but was the only thing available to borrow).

By the way, Brad, don't you think the way you asked your question was a bit loaded, in the "when did you stop beating your wife?" sense -

Lets talk about the visual impact of color polution in the wilds. I would love to hear other opinions on .....earth tone enhance the fealing .... vivid colors .... detract from one`s wilderness experience.

As others have stated, colors have specific functions in the outdoors. And it is how the increasing hordes of backcountry invaders conduct themselves that causes problems, not the colors themselves.

7:04 p.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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I went on about 50 backpacking trips with my blend-in green Hilleberg. Now I have a sore-thumb red Hilleberg. I love both. In the winter the red looks great against the white snow. In the summer, well, in the places I go you can't see anything much if it's further than about 15 feet due to the brush and trees and weeds, etc.

STEALTH: The only time tent color matters is if you're stealth camping "illegally" and need to stay hidden. This is important. I spent many years stealth camping in hundreds of different places and had to have a way to stay hidden. One time outside of Nevada City, CA I had a camp set up, a nice NF Westwind tent, and had to use an old Army poncho to keep it hidden since it was a bright yellow.

Nowadays I'm "legal" and don't have to sneek around if I want to live outdoors, I just go to the nearest NF or wilderness area. But if push comes to shove and you need to camp in the treeline behind a Walmart, it's good to have a subdued tent.

11:29 p.m. on July 2, 2010 (EDT)
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Tipi, how is Shunka doing? I hope he's all better, reading your account of the ordeal was heart wrenching.

EDIT: just saw your trip report- so glad he's doing better.

10:11 a.m. on July 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Yeah gonzan, Shunka is still happy to be part of the family and we just pulled a 16 day trip together but I'm having to carry his pack now so he doesn't have to work too hard. It makes long trips a challenge but it all works out.

1:03 p.m. on July 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Great to hear Shunka is doing better!

Some people would argue that while bright colors are part of nature, brightly colored tents and other gear is not part of nature, and detracts from their experience. I personally am not bothered by it.

For me being able to blend in both in terms of colors and just being quiet helps me see more wildlife, sometimes I just like to sit and observe, especially getting up very early and watch the sun rise and all the animal activity that occurs as the day begins.

I find that wearing muted colors helps, but animals key in on movement more than anything else, so even if your wearing camouflage, you must remain motionless. That's more important than colors.

I tend to think that while camouflage gear helps to conceal you from human sight, you are not fooling the animals once you have made any noise, and you are not alone once you have cooked something.

They're watching you!

Anyway....that's my take on it.

1:10 p.m. on July 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Visual Impact is a tough nut to crack. I distinctly remember being on a trek in the Pecos wilderness with my scout troop, and another group of hikers passed us. We continued to see them for such a long time because one of them had a bright yellow pack cover. One of the parents commented about how it was so garish and annoying to be in the backcountry and have someone wearing such a bright color, detracting from the wild.

That anecdote has always stuck with me, and I always play it back in my head every time I'm buying gear. While that is a very good point, you don't want to take away from the experience of others, sometimes you have to take safety into account. If you got lost/stranded/cut off from your route/etc wouldn't you want a SAR crew to be able to find you? Having a very bright, unnatural color with you like your pack, pack cover, or tent is your best bext at being spotted from the air.

12:33 a.m. on July 4, 2010 (EDT)
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Happiness can only be found if you can free yourself of all other distractions.
-Saul Bellow


when i hike around the Guadalupe river i'm more distracted by the families yelling "me miran!" followed by a splash!

i personally don't like to stand out, I like to wear greens, greys and blacks in whatever im getting (that is if they do not have camo :P ). So as troutbum stated, "...because that's what color it came in," is the reason for some of my miss matching clothing.

12:48 a.m. on July 4, 2010 (EDT)
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This is one of the most interesting threads I've seen in a while.

Trout is correct,some animals may be able to see colors, but this topic has nothing to do with them. They know you're there, period. This, like many other topics that I get into while doing conservation lectures is a "Humans Rule!" thing. While attending an LNT (Leave No Trace) educators seminar/backpacking trip, this was a particularly hot topic around the non-existent campfire as well.

LNT principal # 7 -Be considerate to other visitors.

From LNT.org:

Bright clothing and equipment, such as tents can be seen for long distances are discouraged. Especially in open natural areas, colors such as day-glow yellow are disturbing and contribute to a crowded feeling; choose earth-toned colors (ie. browns and greens) to lessen visual impacts.

Be considerate to whom? Disturbing? That's right, other visitors. Not so much the animals, but PEOPLE might not like it if you are wearing orange in the winter or white in the summer. As a survival instructor, I reminded the group that a bright colored tent, tarp, or jacket might actually be your ticket out of trouble. Camo and other blending colors keep you hidden. I did also mention that most of the "Popular" quality gear that is available is no longer made in day-glo colors as it was in the 80's, nor is it designed to blend with it's surroundings. I'd say the group of 16 or so of us was just about split on this.

Honestly, I'm kinda on the fence on this one, but I'm very eager to see where this topic goes.

1:37 a.m. on July 4, 2010 (EDT)
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When it"s dusk and foggy and there are water drops on your glasses and you're wet and cold and tired and hungry and your tent is a color polluting yellow and easy to spot as it's getting dark-it is a beautiful thing.

7:39 a.m. on July 4, 2010 (EDT)
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..One of the parents commented about how it was so garish and annoying to be in the backcountry and have someone wearing such a bright color, detracting from the wild...

Under these circumstances, I can’t help but suggest people should do themselves a favor and redirect their gaze to the other 359 ½ degrees of the panorama if they find someone’s bright yellow pack so “garish and annoying”. Is it not enough such folks already require tennis whites only on their comunity courts? But should redirecting thier gaze be asking too much, perhaps they should go back to their gated communities, and work on their home owner’s association’s Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions, precluding their neighbors from owning such gear.

Personally Sam I wouldn't place too much stock in that person's comment. It is far more selfish, intolerant, and self aggrandizing than the any level of inconsideration you can attach to the subject of their scorn. It is fair to muse arrogance was at the heart of the comment about the yellow pack, demonstrating the speaker’s superior cultivation and grasp of the rules of etiquette, while snubbing of the target of their scorn. Personally I find my own pack weighing me down to be a much bigger distraction than anyone else's pack, regardless of color.

But why stop with outlawing loud colors? There is so much that begs for more PC. Perhaps we should outlaw all manner of fashion faux pas. I can’t stand when people take camping as an excuse to closet their Dior and Brooks Brother’s suits. And what is that trash they eat? Trekkers should only be allowed to eat eco friendly trail grub; more free range veggies and less Slim Jims! (BYW did they forget to bring their napkin or their table manners?) And OMG! What gall they have motoring up to the trailhead in their escalades and excursions; we should only permit human power transportation or vehicles utilizing renewable energy sources to have access to the parking lot. And no one shall be permitted to blight the horizon silhouette with their presence! Nor should we permit using artificial lighting of any kind after dark, or bring along children who may violate the 24/7 noise rules. And while we are at it, let’s go after those aircraft over flights. (Don’t mind me, I was bit by a rabid squirrel, what is yellow pack hater's excuse!)

Hey, today’s the 4th; enjoy your freedom and liberty to color cordinate as you wish before some rabid, anal retentive, wing nut outlaws them.
Ed

1:34 p.m. on July 4, 2010 (EDT)
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yea, some emergency piece of gear in a vivid yellow color might be advisable to and from some, but really what could possibly be the harm in being less obtrusive in the wilds? I began earnest backpacking and wilderness exploration in the mid to late 70`s. I recall a beginning of a nasty recession at that time which coincided whith developement of many new and wonderfull plastics. As a result of the poor economy putting a strain on peoples vacation plans, many people began buying this new light weight and albeit colorful gear and marching the family off onto trails. There were campsites virtually every where along the A.T. and the designated areas were full of people with all their lovely new equipment. It literally looked like the proverbial 3 ring circus. The point I am trying to make is that even those that went further away from the trail stood out and were quite visible from a distance with yellow tents and fuchia backpacks and orange parkas. Again all I`m suggesting is if possible when a manufacturer offers a model in a choice of colors what would it hurt to blend in a little? Especially now since it would appear we are seeing another increase in cheap vacations. Even houses look so much better in the woods and the landscapes when they blend in and in an ever-increasing population that too is a good idea. Just an opinion .

2:42 p.m. on July 4, 2010 (EDT)
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Ed,

Brook's Brothers?? Do you not have a bespoke tailor?

I, too, find this thread amusing in concept. If I am wishing to get away from the madding crowd (which in the city includes me) then it is better that I can see that crowd at a distance in order to choose another route. Thus, the brighter the colors others wear, the better. I have my headlights on during daytime driving - for my safety and yours; just so, I promise to wear my bright orange anorak so that you can avoid a collision with me on the trail.

The next thread will be an appeal to have the backcountry redecorated with more tasteful plantings. Where is Capability Brown when you need him?

6:45 p.m. on July 4, 2010 (EDT)
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Hmmm I just bought a new rain jacket to stick in my pack for backpacking, replacing the old one which is nearly a pound heavier. Of the several available colors, I chose light grey.

What does this say? :)

Hmmm maybe I should post this same message in the thread about ultralight/traditional :)

8:07 a.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Here in Norway it's traditional to wear red on ski tours in winter and spring, makes people easier to spot "if something should go wrong". You definitely don't want to blend into the background in avalanche country. Same could be said for rivers, sea kayaking etc. That leaves the camping part. I personally am not bothered by seeing other people's camps, even in remote areas -- it can be kind of nice to know where/who your neighbos are. Besides, bright colors often make for good pictures.

8:44 a.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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This is an interesting thread.

I agree in principle that it can be nice to have subdued colors in many instances and also that using a bright color like red for other applications and safety concerns is a good thing.

In reality, I find that I am far more likely to be personally impacted and bothered by how people act — whether they're overly loud, if they control their dogs (or themselves), where they choose their campsite, if they follow the rules and practices for travel and camping, whether or not they acknowledge others on the trail — than what color their tent or jacket is.

I don't personally like neon colors and most of my gear and apparel is fairly subdued, but occasional bright colors don't bother me much. I think it depends on who's wearing or carrying them and how they act around others.

10:46 a.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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I have a rant on this topic that has nothing to do with colors -- it has to do with people napping in high-traffic areas at popular parks.

Two weeks ago I slogged four miles w/2K of elevation gain to a very scenic Blue Ridge overlook, and two clowns are napping right there on this rock that has room for about five people. Almost kicked the guys and said "hey, I didn't come all this way to see your sorry carcass sprawled across the landscape."

This week I saw the same thing ... some guy flopped on an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. What's with these people? Later, some dude and his girlfriend were snoozing in the middle of a nice bald.

OK, rant over.

(It's one thing to kick back in the middle of nowhere, but it' straight-up rude to do it popular areas.)

1:47 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Hmmm now that I think more about this thread, I wonder if I should take back my new rain jacket and swap it for one in red instead of the grey I got. Hmmm...

Overall I do think "color" depends on the equipment in question. I much prefer a tent that blends into the surroundings. When I'm camping, particularly in a backcountry spot, I'd much rather blend into the surroundings. I don't camp in illegal spots, but even so, I'd prefer to blend in.

But for other things, like packs, or clothing, or whatever, I think there could be an argument made either way. Neutral colors blend in better, yet brighter colors help you stand out if you need help and want to be seen...

8:54 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Out of curiosity, how many of you share tommangan's thoughts about people relaxing in popular backcounty areas? I guess maybe I am just much less easily offended than many people. But I just don't understand what is offensive about a couple taking a nap in a nice meadow. How "high traffic" can it be if it takes four miles and 2000 ft in elevation gain to get there. Maybe they were just tired.
I havent taken a nap with my wife in a place like that, but I haven't been offended when I've seen others relaxing in such places. I suppose I just don't see what is offensive about others relaxing in a beautiful spot.
So how far out do you have to get before you have the right to relax- ten miles, twenty?

9:15 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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I might find it odd and it's not something I would do personally, but I doubt I'd be upset by someone napping outdoors if they weren't in my way and weren't behaving inappropriately.

The only issue I can see is if someone chose a really conspicuous spot that made it hard for others to get around them or left no space for anyone else to enjoy the view or if they were an overly familiar couple or something to that effect. Then it could be rude. Otherwise, I'd just keep on doing my own thing and forget about them.

Maybe they're just enjoying the surroundings with their eyes closed.

9:23 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Gonzan: Ever been to Calloway Peak at Grandfather Mountain? It's like the No. 1 hiking destination in western Carolina and dozens of people do the summit every Saturday and Sunday. And it's a mountain summit -- very limited amount of space. And the views are spectacular, and the hike exhilarating. What I didn't say before was the guys I saw crashed up there in the midst of all this splendor just looked like smug twerps who had a swift kick coming on general principles.

The kids in the grass were at the bald at Craggy Gardens, .8 mile from the Blue Ridge Parkway. They weren't hurting anything but I saw the guy's knees in the air and was terrified I'd interrupt that act which generally happens right before sleep, if you get my drift.

The other guy was at Craggy Pinnacle Overlook ... .8 mile from the parking lot at one of those flat stone areas looking out over the mountain range. He was flopped on the rim of it.

I don't fault the young sweethearts for throwing down a blanket and kicking back -- they were practically invisible -- but those guys were really mucking up the scenery.

Editing to add: occurs to me the guys could've showed up and found nobody else around at the exact moment they chose to flop, so it seemed perfectly OK to catch 40 winks.

9:28 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Napping in public? My forte! When in doubt, sleep.

Anyone offended by the sight of me sleeping would probably be greatly offended by me awake. Now sound, that's another matter. Were some of us to snore in the wild, it would constitute a significant avalanche hazard.

We are all on this planet together and, try as you might, we are all in first-class, not steerage.

9:46 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Well I think the common consensus is that being considerate to other hikers dictates that you do your napping, sleeping, cooking, and such in a camping or secluded area well away from scenic overlooks, trails, streams, and other points of interest.

This allows others free (open, easy) access to these areas. If there are a lot of people trying to get to an overlook, you spend a few minutes there with your group, take some photos, and then step back and allow another group to enjoy it for a bit.

Of course most of us already know this, or at least we're mature enough to figure it out. I think some people are just going to be less respectful, or just plain oblivious to the feelings of others.

It seems that people are bothered by this in varying degrees. I would say my level of tolerance is fairly low if I think the offenders should know better but don't seem to care. If the offenders are newbies, seem polite, and probably just didn't think about it, I try to be understanding and will strike up a conversation if I can.

One of my biggest pet peeves is when your camped out of the way, off the trail, and hikers just walk right through the middle of your camp, then say hello. Even worse is when they just walk up and start talking non-stop to you while you're trying to cook supper.

I'm a very friendly person, but a lack of common courtesy ticks me off sometimes. Fortunately most of the people I meet out on the trails are easy to get along with, glad to share information, and know not to wear out their welcome when visiting your camp, after being invited of course.

In all honesty I probably did some of those things when I first started hiking at a young age, but if you're a good person and don't mind friendly advise you learn quick.

10:38 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks guys- All good thoughts, I appreciate the feedback.

Your descriptions of the scenarios and locations made me laugh, Tommangan :) and I can see how those instances could be annoying and potentially inappropriate.

I definitely always do my best to be as considerate of others as possible and reasonable, and also defer to what might be offensive to others, rather than just what I would be offended by.

a couple of the places that the comments brought to mind are open balds that are open to camping, so it was curious to think of cooking or sleeping there as being potentially offensive.

I know I have experienced a profound sense of beauty, grandeur, and solitude in such places and felt nothing more appropriate than closing my eyes and just listening to the wind, plants, and creatures. I guess I was wondering if I might have offended others who could have come nearby in my meditative state.

but then again, maybe I was just tired ;)

10:53 p.m. on July 5, 2010 (EDT)
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Gonzan said:

"I know I have experienced a profound sense of beauty, grandeur, and solitude in such places and felt nothing more appropriate than closing my eyes and just listening to the wind, plants, and creatures. I guess I was wondering if I might have offended others who could have come nearby in my meditative state."

Yeah, me too! I love to do that, and that's one of the reasons I enjoy backpacking in to more remote places. I love to get up before daybreak, get a snack and a cup of coffee, then head to an overlook and watch the sun rise. I have several journal entries I wrote while doing this, but one thing I want to do is set up a camera and video the sunrise in fast motion or time lapse. I have never done that before.

BTW, any advise on videoing the sunrise would be welcome.

5:49 a.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
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Trout,

You make that overlook sound as inviting and busy as a subway platform. : ) That anyone would wish to go to such a place, knowing it to be crowded, illustrates the differences in taste of our common culture. Some people leave the suburbs in the summer for two weeks in a trailer plunked four feet from the next, in a row of a hundred. They then proceed to enjoy themselves immensely!

What you are describing doesn't really make sense on a "backcountry" thread. Perhaps we don't all have the same understanding of backcountry. What is the forum definition, Alicia?

As for sleeping prone in the place you describe, it sounds dangerous and difficult. Waking with a thousand Vibram treadmarks on one's face doesn't sound inviting. This would be Xtreme sleeping, the latest danger sport.

6:46 a.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
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..One of my biggest pet peeves is when your camped out of the way, off the trail, and hikers just walk right through the middle of your camp, then say hello. Even worse is when they just walk up and start talking non-stop to you while you're trying to cook supper...

I actually had some guy stick his nose in our tent to say howdy, while a girlfriend and I were enjoying ourselves. You would think our secluded, difficult to access location, and the rapturous sound emanating from the tent would suffice as a do not disturb hint. At first we thought he was a perv, but he acted genuinely shocked and embarrassed. Talk about clueless.
Ed

8:52 a.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
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What you are describing doesn't really make sense on a "backcountry" thread. Perhaps we don't all have the same understanding of backcountry. What is the forum definition, Alicia?

We haven't written an official definition, but it's a good question and another piece of info to add to the FAQ's. I'll post about it in the blog and ask for responses there too.

For me, Backcountry generally means no vehicle access, no facilities, nothing developed, you've got to get there on your own human power, carrying everything you need, and it should be some distance from roads. If you're only meeting other hikers, backpackers, climbers, etc., you're probably in the backcountry.

From LNT: Frontcountry is composed of outdoor areas that are easily accessible by vehicle and mostly visited by day users. Developed campgrounds are also included in the frontcountry arena. Frontcountry locations tend to be more crowded and attract a wider range of visitor than backcountry.

If you're backpacking in a wilderness area, you're in the backcountry. If you're doing a short day hike in a more developed state park, you're in the frontcountry. However, there is definitely a gray area and depending on activity level, skills, and conditions I think people will find the line separating front and back country in different spots. I think it is possible to day hike in the backcountry, others may disagree.

8:53 a.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
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I actually had some guy stick his nose in our tent to say howdy, while a girlfriend and I were enjoying ourselves. You would think our secluded, difficult to access location, and the rapturous sound emanating from the tent would suffice as a do not disturb hint. At first we thought he was a perv, but he acted genuinely shocked and embarrassed. Talk about clueless.
Ed

Oh my!

9:26 a.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
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Hike your own hike. I use both muted and loud colors. I like bright orange and yellow. If you dont, dont hike with me. If you see my tent, keep hiking further. Buy what you want, let others buy what they want.

I personally dont like dogs on the trail. Doesnt stop me from hiking with those who take their dogs, nor do I make a fuss that dogs shouldn't be on trails. Same thing.

11:02 a.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
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I tend to lean toward muted colors, but, hey, a splash of a bright color looks real nice in a photograph!

9:45 p.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
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overmywaders said:

What you are describing doesn't really make sense on a "backcountry" thread. Perhaps we don't all have the same understanding of backcountry. What is the forum definition, Alicia?

We haven't written an official definition, but it's a good question and another piece of info to add to the FAQ's. I'll post about it in the blog and ask for responses there too.

For me, Backcountry generally means no vehicle access, no facilities, nothing developed, you've got to get there on your own human power, carrying everything you need, and it should be some distance from roads. If you're only meeting other hikers, backpackers, climbers, etc., you're probably in the backcountry.

From LNT: Frontcountry is composed of outdoor areas that are easily accessible by vehicle and mostly visited by day users. Developed campgrounds are also included in the frontcountry arena. Frontcountry locations tend to be more crowded and attract a wider range of visitor than backcountry.

If you're backpacking in a wilderness area, you're in the backcountry. If you're doing a short day hike in a more developed state park, you're in the frontcountry. However, there is definitely a gray area and depending on activity level, skills, and conditions I think people will find the line separating front and back country in different spots. I think it is possible to day hike in the backcountry, others may disagree.


I guess a Jeep trail, moderately inaccessible (or "not advised" for regular passenger vehicles) would probably qualify as backcountry then??? (or greycountry? :)

9:47 p.m. on July 6, 2010 (EDT)
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I personally dont like dogs on the trail. Doesnt stop me from hiking with those who take their dogs, nor do I make a fuss that dogs shouldn't be on trails. Same thing.

well, the difference is, your bright red tent isn't likely to run up to me on the trail and start sniffing at me ... or jump into the water where I'm filtering my water and start splashing "dog water" all over me and my gear. And it certainly won't chase animals and bark at them (hmmm, it might be nice if it did)...

Oops, sorry to all you dog lovers :)

12:26 a.m. on July 7, 2010 (EDT)
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Explorer Robby said:

I personally dont like dogs on the trail. Doesnt stop me from hiking with those who take their dogs, nor do I make a fuss that dogs shouldn't be on trails. Same thing.

well, the difference is, your bright red tent isn't likely to run up to me on the trail and start sniffing at me ... or jump into the water where I'm filtering my water and start splashing "dog water" all over me and my gear. And it certainly won't chase animals and bark at them (hmmm, it might be nice if it did)...

Oops, sorry to all you dog lovers :)

No apologies needed bheiser1, as much as I like dogs....they should behave and stay out of the way. An uncontrollable dog is a liability.

7:48 p.m. on July 7, 2010 (EDT)
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You asked for opinions and I will offer mine...

Really? Color pollution? Are we trying to create an optical illusion? Does wearing muted earth tone colors allow us to imagine we are alone in the back country?

Maybe we should require people wear twigs in their hair and tie branches around their body so they blend into the surrounding environment so as not to offend the visual enjoyment of nature for others who may be color averse.

I think anyone who is offended by others displaying bright colors in the back country needs to spend more time in the back country.

8:20 a.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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The way this topic has evolved makes me wish I hadn`t started it. I`ll repeat myself, the only question I`m asking is what would it hurt if given a choice of colors why not choose one that is less obtrusive?

9:09 a.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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Brad,

I believe that people may balk at being instructed on the refinements of color choice in wilderness settings. Your original question, now repeated, would have us believe that there are "proper" choices which would not "detract from one's (your) wilderness experience."

Have you ever read Downing's 1850 treatise on Cottage Architecture in America? Here is a sample:


Your attitude, as some of us may perceive it through this thread, appears to carry much the same tone of disdain and simulated aesthetic superiority as Downing above. I'm sure that you don't intend us to reach those conclusions; and I sincerely hope that I have misunderstood your posts; but this may be why the thread has not prospered as you might have hoped.

Best regards,

Reed

9:31 a.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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Brad, I wouldn't worry too much about all our bellowing, at least not from this expert bellower :)

I think we are just responding to a perceived example of what is (in my estimation) a growing number of people who are kinda "nature elitists" who hold overblown self-important ideas. As relates to myself, I am guessing the old adage "it takes one to know one" may apply here ;)

It is clear almost everyone who has posted on this thread tend to prefer unobtrusive gear colors. It was just that the wording you chose for your original question had both denotation and connotations conveying pejoritive and critical opinions of those who might chose brighter colors.

9:45 a.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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I apologise to anyone who may have fealt denegrated by the wording I chose in the original and ensueing comments. I can see why you all choose to go into the outdoors, its obviously to get away from egocentrics such as myself.

10:50 a.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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You asked for opinions and I will offer mine...

Really? Color pollution? Are we trying to create an optical illusion? Does wearing muted earth tone colors allow us to imagine we are alone in the back country?

Maybe we should require people wear twigs in their hair and tie branches around their body so they blend into the surrounding environment so as not to offend the visual enjoyment of nature for others who may be color averse.

I think anyone who is offended by others displaying bright colors in the back country needs to spend more time in the back country.

Precisely!

There's a huge difference between being alone and being fooled into believing so. Desiring people to use only earth tones and muted colors indicates to me that one simply do not want to see the people that are there. I can't understand for the life of me why this is so important. Furthermore, maybe they want to be seen. What if they're hoping you'll see their chartreuse rain fly and move on without disturbing them? Hopeful that you won't miss them and setup camp a hundred feet away...

11:29 a.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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The way this topic has evolved makes me wish I hadn`t started it. I`ll repeat myself, the only question I`m asking is what would it hurt if given a choice of colors why not choose one that is less obtrusive?

Don’t regret, interpret.
If I may rephrase mine and others’ remarks you feel seem to miss the point, or just hijack the thread; It doesn’t hurt at all to choose a less obtrusive color. Likewise it shouldn’t hurt anyone if we chose otherwise. To us this is really a moot consideration.

If we seem callus, consider Mr. Yellow Pack Hater is espousing an aesthetic that is far from a majority opinion, let alone unanimous. Nor do we consider it more proper or cultivated. If he is intolerant of our prerogatives, who is he to think anyone should heed his considerations in return? The color and property choices people make are reflections of their personalities, and really isn’t anyone else’s business. Attempting to accommodate others in this regard is a no-win situation anyway. As Bill S alludes, the guys in camo blend in (provided they show up with the right scheme for the theatre of operation). But while Mr. Yellow Pack Hater may approve, others find camo gear offensive for their own reasons. There is no pleasing everyone. I personally cringe when I see the politically correct dressed trekker, espousing all manner of LNT dogma, goose stepping up the trail; or the fly fisherman with his L L Bean lure vest and custom rod, thrashing the lake like he’s caning a camel thief, running off at the mouth about the finer points of hand spun thread for his hand tied flies. I guess I never considered the outdoors as an arena for role playing games, or self-aggrandizing. But that’s my smug attitude, and I certainly don’t expect anyone to take my opinion in consideration while trying on the latest REI trekker costume or other Madison Avenue fashion du jour. I’m sticking with my bright red floral print Hawaiian shirt and jogging shorts; maybe I’ll blend in on the Na Pali Coast Rain Forest trail or a Hilton Head laua party.
Ed

12:39 p.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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I apologise to anyone who may have fealt denegrated by the wording I chose in the original and ensueing comments. I can see why you all choose to go into the outdoors, its obviously to get away from egocentrics such as myself.

One of the reasons I enjoy being in wilderness areas is because being there allows me to escape some of the demands and requirements placed upon me by living in a society where I must conform to certain standards in order to fit in and be accepted.

Bear with me here as this is relevant to the topic of this thread.

Many of these standards are beneficial, but require work & effort on my part. No biggie considering the rewards, but it's nice to escape them from time to time.

I dislike like wearing ties, shaving every day, siting at red lights when no other cars are in sight, or filling out forms in triplicate and making phone calls to get bureaucrats to do the job they have been paid to do. One of my pet peeves is city officials who tell me I can't have a clothes line in my yard, but yet they have multiple programs to lend home owners money to buy more energy efficient appliances.

Hello?? Clothes lines use solar power stupid!

So from time to time I enjoy my freedom out in the wilderness, are there rules there too? Yep there are, and for very good reasons.

I follow the outdoor rules, practice LNT and do my best to be considerate of others using the trails and trying to enjoy the wilderness too. (While the LNT principles encourage muted colors, there are just as many valid reasons why people may wish to use bright colors. For the most part manufactures of outdoor gear still use many bright colors. Hammock makers are using a lot of greens and browns these days.)

However I expect the same from them, the outdoors is the last place I wish to have to conform to the whims of idealism, even if it is well meaning.

The impact color has in the back-country is for the most part on the human eye, and how one perceives it, pleasant, neutral, or distasteful.

I don't see the need to dissect the issue and make a bunch of rules for us to follow when we have much more important problems to solve that require us to work together.

You wear the colors you like, and I'll do the same. I'll still share dinner with you I promise, and be happy to do so!

1:40 p.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't see the need to dissect the issue and make a bunch of rules for us to follow when we have much more important problems to solve that require us to work together.

You wear the colors you like, and I'll do the same. I'll still share dinner with you I promise, and be happy to do so!

Well said, Trout.

4:24 p.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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Personally, I don't mind bright or non-earth toned colors. My tent for instance (MSR Hubba Hubba HP) is orange and tan with a yellow fly. I it light in color and does not feel so gloomy when I am in it when there is still some light out, and that is the only color it comes in too.

As for my pack, I have a Gregory Z-55 in blue, I really am not that particular about my pack color, because most of the time it is on my back, and I don't really see what color it is anyways. My rain jacket (Arc'Teryx Theta AR) is red, which am did pick on purpose, because if it sets me apart from animals and backdrops so I stand out as a person, not a deer or other hunted animal. Lastly my backpack fly is a bright orange, which I chose because I could use it if necessay as a signaling device. Plus the brighter colors are less gloomy and plain feeling to me.

I have never personally met anyone who has had any mishaps with hunters in the wild, but I had seen/read the articles and stories in my hunters safety class and in life in general. I guess I just don't want to be shot mistakenly because someone thought I was a deer or something heading through the forest.

DJ

10:22 p.m. on July 8, 2010 (EDT)
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Personally, I weal bright yellow during the snowy season. My ski gear is yellow and black, and I have adopted those garments for packing as well. In the warmer weather months I wear muted clothing, mostly browns greens and blacks and blues for a couple reasons.

1) Let's face it, backpacking can be dirty, and my OCD would have me changing out shirts and pants every day if they were khaki or white. I can run a couple weeks in an olive drab pair of lightweight zip off pants and a navy blue tee. Sure I stink to high heaven, but that's for another topic.

2) When I go out into the woods i want to be alone and blend in with my surroundings. It isn't so much about others wearing bright colors, hell I don't care if you hike naked like f_klock and his buddies. I do care about the others around me to a point, but how you act is much more important to me.

3) I get a rush out of bushwacking through heavy hunting areas during the first day of rifle season. Yellows and reds and that ugly blaze orange just ruins the mood. I usually get my deerskin suit on, strap on the marlin and fire back. You should see the look on the hunters faces when deer fight back.

7:33 p.m. on July 9, 2010 (EDT)
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Yeah, I haven't tired the deerskin suit yet, maybe that would make me feel a bit more comfortable.....hmmmmm. But I do agree with you mahoosicmayhem, wearing the darker pants and shirt do prevent or minimize rather the look of filth!

9:31 p.m. on July 9, 2010 (EDT)
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But I do agree with you mahoosicmayhem, wearing the darker pants and shirt do prevent or minimize rather the look of filth!

Actually that depends where you are. If you are in the Sierra in the summer, it tends to be really dry and dusty, and dark colored clothes (especially black) look really bad, really fast. There beige is best :)

And with (now I can't see who said it)'s comment about bright colors to set oneself apart from the hunted creatures... now I really wish I'd bought a bright red rain jacket instead of light gray. Oh well...

11:52 a.m. on July 10, 2010 (EDT)
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Yeah DJ I was just trying to lighten the mood a little. LOL

2:20 p.m. on July 10, 2010 (EDT)
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bheiser,

Good point, I guess you have to think about the conditions you will be hiking in if you want to keep a "cleaner" look.

10:55 a.m. on July 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Man, like wow. Who was it a few threads back that said this wasn`t a successful topic? seems to me a lot of people are interested in this. I personally believe its good to blend in and if for no other reason than to be respectful to others that want a fealing of solitude. So it looks like a good time to give my gear list. TARP- 6x10 sil-nyl. grey. TENT- M.L.D. one person net tent. grey floor with black netting. BACKPACK- Gossamer gear gorilla, light grey w/black trim. SLEEPING BAG- Sierra Designs wicked light. dark grey w/light grey. PACKA rain parka, olive green. DOWN SWEATER- montbell u.l. olive green. T-shirt-grey. PANTS- supplez nylon cargo convertables sage green. SHOES- trail runners grey on grey. MAT- neo-air 3/4 length lime green and grey and all other items are superflous as far as color goes. I always when I have a choice, choose an earth tone neutral color. But that is just me I would not impose that practice on any other. Thanks to all who made this topic so much fun. O I forgot CHAPS- dark green. and HAT- dark green.

10:57 a.m. on July 12, 2010 (EDT)
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O yea my new umbrella is beige

12:04 p.m. on July 13, 2010 (EDT)
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I do agree that florescent colors distract the eye, and that I might, most of the time, prefer a color ratio swinging more towards the "earth tones," but this does not mean that I want to impose any constrictions on the freedoms of others. If I happen upon a fellow hiker wearing the latest Arc'teryx Naos pack in Chartreuse, I'm usually more interested in gleaning a few tidbits about the pack's fit and performance than I am distracted and annoyed by its presence. That said, I can imagine cases where an overabundance of closely-situated, brightly-colored objects would begin to affect my mood, or shift some psychological state, in such a way as to lead me to want to camp elsewhere.

Above treeline, bright colors save lives.

1:22 p.m. on July 13, 2010 (EDT)
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This topic reminds me of the lesson a teacher taught us in third grade. I`m sure many of you have done this. Form a long line and start a saying, any saying and whisper it into the first persons ear and ask them to pass it on accordingly down the entire line and see what the last person says and how it differs from the original saying, and it always does. This is an example of how far from the original topic this has strayed. No one made a statement that anyone has a right to dictate to any one what color he or she should choose in hiking, backpacking,camping apparel. Only asking for an opinion if you think colors make a difference in the ability to percieve solitude as less viable when others wear loud colors and does it detract from said ability? Thank you, Brad.

6:57 a.m. on July 14, 2010 (EDT)
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(Do) ..you think colors make a difference in the ability to percieve solitude as less viable when others wear loud colors and does it detract from said ability?..

I think solitude is a personal state of mind in this context. Some may find perceived absence of others in their field of vision an effective step, while others are more aware of intruding sounds, and still others achieve this state of being through other means. But most will agree you will gain solitude if you make the effort to place physical distance between you and the next party. Personally my sense of solitude is unaffected by the color schemes of other campers, but it can be affected by physical proximity and behaviors.
Ed

1:28 p.m. on July 14, 2010 (EDT)
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There seems to be confusion on this thread - some are approaching the use of bright colors as a vision issue whereas the theme of the thread is perception, not vision.

If your tent is unconcealed within my range of vision I will see it. Even if you use the best of camouflage, I will see it; however, I may not perceive it as a tent or a human construct. Some of the posters may hope that your tent will not be immediately perceivable.

This brings us to the complicated social and psychological issues underlying perception/deception. If I hope that others will deceive me into thinking that I am alone, singular, special, that is one problem - because it is hard to get full cooperation in creating a delusion. OTOH, if I am looking to have reinforcement of my inclusion within a niche community then I want the emblems of that niche identifiable... but discrete. Were I to buy a plot of land in an gated community of multi-million dollar homes and proceed to place an ordinary mobile home (but double-wide) at the end of my gravel drive, my neighbors would probably be furious. I could explain "Form follows function" and the low carbon foot print; I could wax poetic on simplicity or lack of need for an Italian marble porte-cochere; but ultimately I would be offending them through association - allowing an image of "the great unwashed" within their vision and destroying their perception of exclusivity.

I am not even remotely suggesting that anyone in this thread has implied an inclination toward the behavior narrated above. The previous paragraph illustrates a tendency common to all humans - the desire to regulate and protect their own, and others, perceptions. The problem therefore of brightly colored hiking gear rests not with the color of someone else's gear, but with our response to our perceptions of our life in the outdoors. What we think about what we perceive is within our control and should be confronted. In other words, the change has to be one of attitude - examining and overcoming unworthy perceptions - not the color of gear.

Who would think a sermonette would be provoked by a tent?

1:57 p.m. on July 14, 2010 (EDT)
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please someone put an end to this! editors, can this topic be mercifully closed?

2:16 p.m. on July 14, 2010 (EDT)
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Brad,

In your next to last post you said:

Only asking for an opinion if you think colors make a difference in the ability to percieve solitude as less viable when others wear loud colors and does it detract from said ability?

So I responded to clarify the matter of perception vis-a-vis vision, why it detracts from said ability, and what can be done about it.

Now you want the thread to end? Why?

8:41 p.m. on July 14, 2010 (EDT)
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I think that was very well put overmywaders (both of your last posts). If an individual who is hiking/camping or looking for solitude gets unnerved by "bright" colors from others doing the same, then they will [IMO] have to do so with a grain of salt. Color may bother some but to others it is what they want/like, and as said before a matter of opinion. A debate like this can go on forever, since everyone is entitled to their own opinion so long as they don't try to force it or any regulations on others (and I am not saying anyone here has done so or even implied as such).

9:17 p.m. on July 14, 2010 (EDT)
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Tents, double wides, and marble porte-cochere – I love that simile.

I was thinking perhaps a disco globe, strobe lights, and pounding techno music would round out my tent color theme and make it more acceptable, but now I realize understated style is the way to go. Perhaps the loud color offenders should consider erecting an granite stair case leading to the entrance of their tent; their superior sense of taste in architecture will surely excuse their garish color sensibilities! Note to self: Pack jackhammer and associated equipment on next high country trek. Perhaps musings such as mine are why Brad begs someone put an end to the insanity of this thread, before it spreads to the general population.

I am sure some will find others' presence offending no matter what they do. As Reed points out, it is oft times futile to attempt accommodating other's mindscape, especially in communities with little cohesivness, and no gates or CCRs, like a wilderness.

Ed

9:17 a.m. on July 15, 2010 (EDT)
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Just my poor attempt at a joke, overmywaders

9:57 p.m. on August 4, 2010 (EDT)
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This topic comes up from time to time. The bottom line is: some will go out of their way to be "loud" with color, others will strive to blend in but most will just go with what they have. I remember an article about this. The theme there was to use bright colors to be visible as possible so bears would see you better.

As the backcountry gets more crowded I fear that no matter what we do blending in will become more and more difficult.

OP

July 26, 2014
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