ettiquette on the summit

10:24 a.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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My question is, after an 8 mile hike to the summit, some hikers have already  taken over the only covered platform and campsite. What do you do?

3:17 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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 Hi cklugel,


You Sigh, marvel at your achievement,.,..............and camp somewhere else, unless of cource there is room for you and they let you camp w/ them.  I guess that's one of the benefit of summiting first.  I'm not one who ever gets summit fever or even getting up early in the morning to be the first anywhere, but as they say "the early packer gets the camp site".

3:26 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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I guess I'm the stupid one that gets up early to be the first one at the summit.  I would just ask also if they had room or find another place, but you made it to the top.

3:31 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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In an act of desperation you could always get as close as you can to them, start twitching in an uncontrollable manner, scratching, and muttering jibberish that not even you can understand. This quite possibly may give them reason to relocate. Maybe take a football helmet with ya for good measure. j/k :)

Apeman pretty much got it right on this one. 1st come 1st serve. Making summit was the main objective so give yourself a good ol pat on the back, suck in the view, and find the best possible 2nd option to set camp.

Btw, welcome to Trailspace cklugel.

10:55 p.m. on June 25, 2011 (EDT)
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Welcome to trailspace! As for your problem....

You put on that big smile you have in your picture, introduce you self and ask them where they're from.. tell them how far you've come and how wonderful the sunset will be but you're going to miss it because there's no room left. 

11:36 a.m. on June 26, 2011 (EDT)
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Ok, thanks for responding. I guessed that the first come first serve rule would apply. I will have my 2 90lb. Dogs and my husband with me on the hike. Maybe we can scare them away...hahaha.

3:33 p.m. on June 26, 2011 (EDT)
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Yeah - there really aren't any other options but to follow the first come first served rule.  It's not like you can ask them to leave to give you their spot :).   And it would probably seem rude to try to cram into the site with them.

I think if it were me, planning a long hike with a specific campsite in mind, I'd try to schedule the trip on a weekday when its' less likely to be occupied.  Otherwise you could end up being disappointed.

I did something like that years ago when I hiked up to stay overnight in an abandoned fire tower.  I was lucky and had the place to myself.

9:29 a.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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On the AT don't people share huts, covered areas and camping areas generally? 

In the West (all that I know) it is the height of bad form to camp anywhere anyone else i nthe back country if it is at all possible to camp further away. 

9:31 a.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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If there is plenty of space in the designated area, just set up a reasonable distance away. If there aren't any camping restrictions your opritions are wide open- just be sure not to damage the spot you choose.

If there is limited space it is perfectly acceptable to ask to set up alongside those who have already arrived. Technically, if it's the only approved and designated spot in the area, you have the right to set up whether you ask or not. That being said, being gracious and courteous goes a long way.

9:42 a.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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Ok. I have another question. My dogs are very well behaved, however, if they came across a bear, wild animal, etc. I'm not sure what they'd do. Has anyone had experience with this kind of encounter?

11:22 a.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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I believe most people would be open to sharing the site with you, I find many hikers and backpackers are like minded, and short of the obnoxios, loud and inconsiderate few, they are generally an inviting group. Of course, as many have said, be prepared to go to plan B.

As for the dogs, I've encountered bear, deer, moose and coyotes with my two dogs. Of which the moose being the most dangerous, although by the sounds of you trip you won't be running into them? Obviously training is paramount. Having a socialized and in control dog around the house is different then a socialized and in control dog in the wild. There are far more interesting smells, sights, sounds out there for them. Without opening a 'can of worms' I prefer to hike with my dogs off leash, but I mainly hike in Northern Ontario where its highly unlikely that I will run into other hikers, especially in the winter. If you are in a more populous area then the dogs will need to be on leash. With both, on or off, you need to have total control and the dogs need to be able to listen to your direction regarless of the 'distraction'. Here in Ontario we are already getting fined dogs are found off leash in a public area and have banned pit bulls beacuse of the stupid and irresponsible actions of few. But thats a rant for a whole other day!

4:42 p.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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Your dogs are your responsibility.. it is imperative that you control your dogs.. If  you cannot control your dogs verbally then you must restrain them, the mountains and the wildlife are for us to visit and take care of.. it is the critters home not ours..If you aren't sure you can control your dogs then leave them at home, it would be safer for them and the animals they might maul or scare..

6:25 p.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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Here are a few topics that were previously discussed regarding the whole dog thing. I am sure you can find some pretty solid info here.


8:26 p.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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Offer some Makers Mark or Grey Goose, that always works for me.

11:01 p.m. on June 27, 2011 (EDT)
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It's interesting to read the comments on this thread.  It just goes to show, there's often no one right answer to a particular question or situation.  The point about different regional behaviors is interesting too.

In my early years in the White Mountains of New Hampshire I recall being crammed into shelters, or being at very busy campsites.  For example I recall one night in the summer of '77 or 78, when I was doing some volunteer work for the AMC - my task that night was to document every visitor at the Imp Shelter - and educate them on proper campsite use.  The AMC leaders were quite shocked when I reported back that there had been (IIRC) something like 60 or 70 people at the one campsite that night.

I guess that could happen in the Sierra too, though my (more limited) experience has been that people spread out more.  But in general, at least with the types of places I tend to go, there is often more space to spread out. 

On a trip in Yosemite last summer, I planned to camp near one of the Sunrise Lakes.  As I arrived, there was a group of scouts setting up camp.  Needless to say I moved along.  At the next lake there were campsites free, but I had a feeling they woudln't be free for long.  Again, I moved along.  I found a nice site all to myself where I could fully experience the natural surroundings.  Had someone come up and camped next to me I'd have been frustrated and disappointed.

The same would be true if I hiked that 8 mile trail the OP said led to a mountaintop.  Chances are, unless I went with a group of my own, my intent of going to such a place wouldn't be to share my site with other campers.  My intent would be to experience the special nature of that spot.  While I certainly wouldn't fault someone else for camping there (for the reasons others have stated above), I'd certainly be disappointed if they did, as my experience would have been altered from what I desired.  Similarly, if I were the one approaching the site and found it previously occupied, I'd do my best (within reason) to back off and find someplace else if possible... not just for my own comfort, but to avoid intruding on those already there.

Maybe it woudl be different if the mountaintop had multiple sites.  But the OP stated "the site" had been "taken over" (which I interpret as "there was one fully occupied site").  Unless it was getting dark and I simply could not find another reasonable spot, I wouldn't push myself into that site.

To me, in a situation like that, it's not necessarily aobut what you "can" do (it's perfectly legit to pop in and share the site, I guess) ... but more about what it feels "right" to do.

Anyway, interesting reading :).



9:36 a.m. on June 28, 2011 (EDT)
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My dog would run away with her tail between her heroic hind legs, leaving me to deal with whatever I couldn't outrun myself. 

9:55 a.m. on June 28, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks for the informative comments. I highly doubt we'll encounter anything too dangerous but it's good to be prepared. I will enjoy the trip no matter what. Sometimes what may become an extreme or disappointing situation can make for a great story someday!

12:14 p.m. on June 28, 2011 (EDT)
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It is amazing what a pleasant hello and a little chatting can do for you.  Once I have reached a camp site and found limited or designated spots left I have always found it a direct opportunity to meet new people.  Had a few camps like this where it ended well with being offered a spot to camp and some new friends.

8:51 a.m. on July 2, 2011 (EDT)
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cklugel said:

Ok. I have another question. My dogs are very well behaved, however, if they came across a bear, wild animal, etc. I'm not sure what they'd do. Has anyone had experience with this kind of encounter?

 I have hiked in the Delaware Water Gap/Worthington State Forest with my German Shepherd plenty of times. We have come across deer that he glances at but doesn't show much interest in. The deer seem to go about their business because we don't get closer than 20 yards to them. As for bears, apparently we walked right past one on Wednesday that my dog didn't even alert on. The only critters he shows interest in are squirrels. I have to remind him that he has plenty of squirrels back home to chase :-)


7:12 p.m. on July 15, 2011 (EDT)
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I love dogs but remember some areas, such as National Parts, and Wilderness area (I think) have a No dog policy.  That said I was on the cost (PNW) over the 4th of July weekend, it's all national park, and their was at least 10 to 12 dogs that we saw.  They were all well behaved for the most part but, it was hard explaining to my kids why those people had dogs with them. 

As for the lone camp site, I would have to agree that moving on to a different site would be the best, unless it is just to dark or something like that, more so it you have the dogs with you. 


8:19 p.m. on August 9, 2011 (EDT)
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You more than likely will not need cover and can simply curl up in a convenient place down away from the top.  It may not be the Ritz, but it will do. I have never refused a request to share space. A couple of large dogs may put off many, however.  Always worth asking.  Just be prepared for some heartbreaking news from some jerks.

If bad weather comes in, I'm sure they will share what they can.  But if you can see the weather coming, time to head down anyway instead of imposing.  If an emergency happens then all etiquette is left behind until later.  Make sure you have fresh batteries in the head lamp in case it will be a long hike down/up.

Not good karma to camp on the trail either.  Other people coming up or down would not appreciate having to keep from stepping on you and the pooches. I'm a very easy going guy, but I really am upset to have to climb up or down away from the trail because they just won't or can't give way.  Have been known to step on equipment instead of people. Oops! Sorry didn't want to hurt you.

Don't let the dogs chase the wildlife including the humans you might meet.  The problem with bears is that the dogs will chicken out and come running home.  The bear will be about two strides behind them.  Plan on it. 

Most wilderness areas require you to have them on no more than a 6 foot leash when near humans and wildlife.

Where are you hiking?  From the tone of your writing I think you, pups and hubby will have just a wonderful time out there.

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