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  1. #1
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    Just curious... do you camp along the trail or not?

    When hiking various trails like the AT or other, there are camping areas along the route, usually near streams for water. These areas often have stone fire rings from other hikers, flat spots for tenting, etc.... When I hiked with a tent (ancient history), I would camp in these spots, with anyone else who might have been hiking thru.

    Now with a hammock, I find myself often camping off the trail. Sometimes over a hill away from the trail, sometimes nowhere near one of the camping sites, sometimes just bushwacking. With a hammock, no flat spot or smooth spot is needed, which opens up some nice options. I'm no morning person, so I like to sleep in at times. Evening is another story though, and if possible, I'll pitch camp to be able to watch the sunset. The flexibility of the hammock allows a bit of freedom in this.

    So, just curious... where do you hangers camp when hiking? Trail camp spots, other?

  2. #2
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    It depends

    I agree hammock camping opens up a new set of possibilities, but depending on the venue it still often makes sense to use official campsites.
    • On the Border Route last year there were almost no campsites, so I just pulled off wherever looked good
    • On Isle Royale NP I always used official sites. This is a pristine park, and the rangers enforce the rules. OTOH, I didn't necessarily hang over a tent pad.
    • In Teddy Roosevelt NP last year there were no backcountry campsites, so wherever I ended up was a good spot...
    • On the Superior Hiking Trail where I spend the most time, for 3-season camping I always use the official sites. They have nice benches, pit latrines, access to water sources, etc.
    • On the SHT for Winter camping I am more likely to stray off the official sites to find a protected spot out of the wind

    I feel we should hang in an official campsite wherever practical to minimize impact. You also have to be very careful on trails that have sections on easements of private property and respect the property owners' rights. You don't want to p*ss off a property owner who has been gracious enough to allow the trail to cross their domain.

    --Kurt

  3. #3
    Oh-No's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=So, just curious... where do you hangers camp when hiking? Trail camp spots, other?[/QUOTE]

    I like to take a break in the mid afternoon at camp spot (with water) , make dinner, eat, and clean up.
    Then I hike on for several miles and pick a place to sleep.

    The mid afternoon break gives new life to my legs and at the end of the day I only have to look for a good place to sleep. (not a place to sleep, cook, & clean up) This tactic gives you the flexibility to pick a good spot to eat, even if it is not a good place to camp. Then you can hike on and not have to worry about finding a good camping & eating spot at the end of the day. Plus you can sleep away from areas which are routinely checked out by critters looking for food. YMMV

  4. #4
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    On the AT down south after June you have to camp in established campsites most of the time because of the underbrush.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Heber's Avatar
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    I most often hike along the Ozark Trail here in Missouri. Most places the rule is that backcountry camping is allowed 100 feet off the trail. I camp where I like the site and the trees are the right distance apart. I'm REALLY careful about LNT. I doubt you could tell where I had camped even if you came by the same day.

    I much prefer this to established campsites. I go to the woods for peace and quiet.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mule's Avatar
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    I hike in the Hoosier National Forest most of the time, and the trails there are seldom used by others. They lead to fairly remote areas and then we sometimes leave the trail a bit to find places where no one has camped. These trails are not marked, you just have to know where you are going. Mule
    There are only two kinds of people that understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.
    Gen. William Thornson, U.S. Army

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    My mood usually dictates that decision. Sometimes I just don't want to risk the chance of having company if I'm out there to ponder the universe and such. Other times a little company is nice. Sometimes I just find a place that 'feels' good, so I make camp. If I'm with a group then the campground is a good place to meet and usually laziness kicks in if you've been waiting for someone, so I'll hang there.
    Last edited by Cannibal; 01-27-2009 at 22:23. Reason: Oh, it was ugly!
    Trust nobody!

  8. #8
    Senior Member plowhorse's Avatar
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    I typically camp in unimproved campsites. this weeds out all the yahoos looking to make a lot of noise all night long. I am hoping the hammock will allow me to get out even farther so I can really commune with nature

  9. #9
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    Most of my hiking trips have been in the Wilderness areas of the west, and there really were no established campsites once we left the vehicle. So it was always just pick a likely looking spot and hang there. I really love that. Of course, there were also really likely spots that had been oft used, with fire rings and such. But still nothing official.

    But in the Olympic National Park in WA, we had a mixture. There were "developed sites", meaning a fire ring and limited numbers and reservations and food hanging cables. Or, as long as the correct arrangements were made, and you had either a bear canister or ability to hang food, you could just go off in the woods by yourself. That was great.
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
    Romans 8:18,21-22

  10. #10
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    My favorite is the wilderness area that's closest to home. It has old indian trails and camp sites that have been maintained by Boy Scouts, contrary to the wilderness area protocol. I like to use the trails to get to the areas I'm interested in, but I never use the camp sites. LNT is more fun in a hammock.
    "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." - Ben Franklin
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