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Re: common courtesy vs. pecking order
>> I haven't hiked the AT (yet), so maybe I'm missing something.
Please, what is this attraction to shelters? Ones I have stayed in
are not always immune from the elements, sometimes smelly and dirty
and prone to unwanted animal visits. I'd much rather be in a tent
or under a tarp.
Attractions of shelters? If I know their along a trail, I'll
use 'em. One main thing about shelters, especially on the AT. They
are a GOAL, when you leave one, you know how far the next one is,
when you get to it, you know you hiked X miles. It's like taking a
long drive, at the end of it, you reach somewhere, you know the
trip is over. On the AT, after a couple of weeks, 99% of the hikers
I met started thinking exactly like that. When you get to that next
shelter, you start to think, "maybe instead of stopping here, I can
make it to the next one today, it's only X miles" Just notice,
especially from long distance hikers on the AT, they speak in terms
of shelters. If you meet a hiker coming from the opposite
direction, that question ALWAYS comes up, usually you both ask, "
how far away am I, from the shelter you stayed at or passed?" 99%
the time, the answer is given in hours and minutes, not miles,
cause you know you usally cover X MPH.
And of course, the majority of us don't live "in da woods", or
"on da streets," so since you will probably see at least one
shelter a day, they become a symbol of your "home awy from home",
you know, like the walls you look at every day when your not
hiking. The cavemen had their caves, AT hikers got shelters.
They become social gathering points (for/or good/bad). You always
hear, for one reason or another, when people are hiking
together,"I'll/We'll catch up/meet you, at the next shelter", that
way everyone's assured exactly where someone else will be, or at
least find a note there! Even loners get attracted to the shelters,
cause usually there's water nearby.
As far as a pecking order, don't believe in it, on the trail, it's
my motto, "first come, first served." Only broke that motto once on
the AT, in NJ, when I was only hiker there, and about an hour
later, about 15 young girls and their women leaders stopped, they
didn't have enought tents, so I gave up my space, as their leaders
set up their own tents, and the weather was nice. Which, if the
weathers bad, it keeps you from setting up/taking down your wet
tent. At a ouple of shelter places, had to set up tent cause the
bugs were so bad.