How many is too many?

Day Hiking & general trail related

Moderator: HAZ - Moderators

Linked Guides none
Linked Areas none
Post Reply
User avatar
chumley
Posts: 8061
Joined: Sep 18 2002 8:59 am
City, State: Tempe, AZ

How many is too many?

Post by chumley »

We know that when hiking or backpacking in federally designated wilderness areas such as the Superstitions, there are published and posted restrictions on the size of groups allowed to travel together (despite being rarely followed or enforced).

But how about elsewhere? Is there a number of people that is just too many to travel together? Just as a courtesy to others, similar to using headphones vs. playing your music out loud.

Is it possible that some generic concept of group size should be part of common "trail etiquette"?
33s over 45s
User avatar
toddak
Posts: 293
Joined: Nov 15 2005 8:46 pm
City, State: Puhoynix, AZ

Re: How many is too many?

Post by toddak »

At first I thought this was referring to the number of forum topics that chumley has been starting recently :lol:
User avatar
chumley
Posts: 8061
Joined: Sep 18 2002 8:59 am
City, State: Tempe, AZ

Re: How many is too many?

Post by chumley »

@toddak
Probably the meth. :sweat:

At least it's not a poll this time!
33s over 45s
User avatar
zlewis
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 18 2017 10:13 am
City, State: Dallas, TX

Re: How many is too many?

Post by zlewis »

I would say 10-12 is a good starting point, just from a logistical standpoint. More than that and the group size becomes unwieldy and an obstacle for smaller parties to navigate. Most wilderness stuff isn't intended for groups. Everything from parking to trail width, water source use, etc. I dislike large groups because they are always exponentially louder than smaller ones and spook all wildlife within a mile radius. It may just be me, but I just don't get the idea of taking a bunch of friends with you on a wilderness outing. At what point does it just become civilization again?

More relevant than personal opinions on the value of solitude would be the nature of the groups themselves. The determining factor is usually the character of the group, not necessarily the size. Examples: While travelling I have often encountered groups of 20-30 Japanese travelers who couldn't be more polite and calm. Alternately, there is the group of Chinese tourists like the ones who ruined my visit to Huntsville State Park (TX). They displayed an utter lack of civility and manners, essentially taking over the location and driving others away, not to mention the Pileated Woodpeckers I was camera-hunting. It's not unusual to pass a sizable group of retirement-age hikers that almost snuck-up on you, and later pass 3 or 4 high school/college kids that come bounding down the trail oblivious to others and making more noise than World War II. That being said, the more of anyone you put in a group, the more disruptive it will be. Maybe we should just train bears to eat loud people. Go ahead, yell "Hey Toby, look at this cool stick I found!", I dare ya.
"He who climbs Mt. Fuji is a wise man; he who climbs it twice is a fool." - Japanese proverb
User avatar
The_Eagle
Posts: 1152
Joined: Jan 20 2009 2:46 pm
City, State: Far NE Phoenix, Az
Contact:

Re: How many is too many?

Post by The_Eagle »

zlewis wrote:Maybe we should just train bears to eat loud people.
I like that.... assuming there was no repercussion for the Bears.
There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."
Dave Barry
User avatar
Tough_Boots
Posts: 1848
Joined: Mar 28 2008 7:08 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: How many is too many?

Post by Tough_Boots »

I think its a hard thing to judge. In a wilderness area there is usually a size limit in place but in other areas there is not. Its about your own expectations and assuming others will have the same and then getting upset when that didn't work out for you-- which is completely ridiculous. If I see a group of 20 hikers on South Mountain, its probably not going to bother me. If I see a group of 20 somewhere like the Cabin Loop trails, I would be really annoyed but that doesn't mean I actually think they're doing anything wrong or need to change that behavior to conform to my expectations-- that's my problem and I need to get over it. If you're the type of person whose day is going to be ruined because something happened out of your control, then hiking and backpacking is probably not the right hobby for you.
User avatar
chumley
Posts: 8061
Joined: Sep 18 2002 8:59 am
City, State: Tempe, AZ

Re: How many is too many?

Post by chumley »

Tough_Boots wrote:Its about your own expectations...
Expectations regarding public behavior are set culturally / societally. My question is about whether there already is or there should be an expectation set.
Tough_Boots wrote:Its about ... assuming others will have the same [expectations] and then getting upset when that didn't work out for you
I don't get upset at too many things, including when others have different expectations than I do. Though I don't mind calmly discussing differences sometimes!
Tough_Boots wrote:I would be really annoyed but ... that's my problem and I need to get over it.
I think this kind of attitude would go a long way in the world today!
Tough_Boots wrote:If you're the type of person whose day is going to be ruined because something happened out of your control, then hiking and backpacking is probably not the right hobby for you.
I couldn't agree more.
33s over 45s
User avatar
JasonCleghorn
Posts: 474
Joined: Nov 11 2014 1:03 pm
City, State: Amherst, NH
Contact:

Re: How many is too many?

Post by JasonCleghorn »

I'd like it if everyone everywhere were limited to 15 or less on all public lands even non-Wilderness but that's a pipe dream.
Follow me on Instagram: hikingjason
"It's not the mountains that we conquer, but ourselves"
"HAZ is not a meet-up group. Unless you're in the IN group, then its a meet-up group"
User avatar
SpiderLegs
Posts: 961
Joined: Jul 12 2012 7:35 pm
City, State: Tucson, AZ

Re: How many is too many?

Post by SpiderLegs »

It's really bugging me on some of my social media sites that I see people posting pics of their group of 15-30+ people after they do a GC hike or some other place where a small group is warranted. We are loving our unique Arizona hikes to death.
See my pics on Instagram @tucsonexplorer
no avatar
hiking_arizona
Posts: 36
Joined: Mar 13 2002 9:06 am

Re: How many is too many?

Post by hiking_arizona »

Baldy and Humphreys come to mind as they seem popular for groups besides number 1 being GC.
User avatar
Jim_H
Posts: 5247
Joined: Sep 08 2006 8:14 pm
City, State: Marana, AZ

Re: How many is too many?

Post by Jim_H »

This was sort of discussed with a similar thread started by Jason some time back. Maybe I am different on this issue, but for some reason I don't mind big crowds where I expect to get them; Camelback, Humphrey on a nice June Saturday, or where ever. Obviously, an upper limit has to be there, somewhere, but I have never felt the need to express a number based on what was there. People leave, too.

Having been alone on many of the peaks that are popular, and a lot of other ones that are not, I am OK with a visit or two that is overflowing with people. I'll just come back later.

Now, if it is a zoo on a trail for an entire hike, that is annoying. I have yet to encounter that except on paved or very short trails.
Let's go Brandon!!!!! Let's go Brandon!!!!
no avatar
RowdyandMe
Posts: 802
Joined: Jul 16 2012 5:48 am

Re: How many is too many?

Post by RowdyandMe »

Are we talking going up or coming down>
Rowdy and Widowmaker
User avatar
JasonCleghorn
Posts: 474
Joined: Nov 11 2014 1:03 pm
City, State: Amherst, NH
Contact:

Re: How many is too many?

Post by JasonCleghorn »

Jim_H wrote:This was sort of discussed with a similar thread started by Jason some time back. Maybe I am different on this issue, but for some reason I don't mind big crowds where I expect to get them; Camelback, Humphrey on a nice June Saturday, or where ever. Obviously, an upper limit has to be there, somewhere, but I have never felt the need to express a number based on what was there. People leave, too.

Having been alone on many of the peaks that are popular, and a lot of other ones that are not, I am OK with a visit or two that is overflowing with people. I'll just come back later.

Now, if it is a zoo on a trail for an entire hike, that is annoying. I have yet to encounter that except on paved or very short trails.
I think there is a difference between a lot of people doing a trail, but they aren't in a big group, and a lot of people doing a trail and in big groups.

For example, if 200 people are on Piestewa, but they don't know each other and just are hiking solo, its relatively quiet. If 20 people are in a group from Peralta to Charlebois, its loud AF if you are near them. I just do not want any noise when I am hiking, or not much. And yes, I'm fun at parties. :y:
Follow me on Instagram: hikingjason
"It's not the mountains that we conquer, but ourselves"
"HAZ is not a meet-up group. Unless you're in the IN group, then its a meet-up group"
User avatar
joebartels
Posts: 7175
Joined: Nov 20 1996 12:00 pm
City, State: Phoenix, AZ

Re: How many is too many?

Post by joebartels »

1 - I've had more trouble with this group size, still rare and usually it's me
- joe
User avatar
big_load
Posts: 4697
Joined: Oct 28 2003 11:20 am
City, State: Andover, NJ

Re: How many is too many?

Post by big_load »

joebartels wrote:1 - I've had more trouble with this group size, still rare and usually it's me
It's funny that you mention this. Once I crossed paths with a group that was oversized by a factor of three, yet they seemed to object more to my presence than I did to theirs.
User avatar
SuperstitionGuy
Posts: 1701
Joined: Dec 25 2005 8:24 pm
City, State: Queen Creek, Arizona

Re: How many is too many?

Post by SuperstitionGuy »

big_load wrote: Once I crossed paths with a group that was oversized by a factor of three, yet they seemed to object more to my presence than I did to theirs.
Hear ya Big L. I could not count the number of times I was lectured, criticized and warned about the dangers of hiking and backpacking solo.
A man's body may grow old, but inside his spirit can still be as young and restless as ever.
- Garth McCann from the movie Second Hand Lions

Another victim of Pixel Trivia.

Current avatar courtesy of Snakemarks
User avatar
big_load
Posts: 4697
Joined: Oct 28 2003 11:20 am
City, State: Andover, NJ

Re: How many is too many?

Post by big_load »

SuperstitionGuy wrote:
big_load wrote: Once I crossed paths with a group that was oversized by a factor of three, yet they seemed to object more to my presence than I did to theirs.
Hear ya Big L. I could not count the number of times I was lectured, criticized and warned about the dangers of hiking and backpacking solo.
In my case, they thought I was a pyscho waiting in Rogers Canyon for a chance to attack 50 people. Why else would I be out there alone? Anyway, if I were going to attack 50 people, I probably wouldn't do so with 2 gallons of water in my pack. It impairs my agility too much.
User avatar
cactuscat
Posts: 815
Joined: Oct 15 2002 12:08 pm

Re: How many is too many?

Post by cactuscat »

SuperstitionGuy wrote: I could not count the number of times I was lectured, criticized and warned about the dangers of hiking and backpacking solo.
Try it as a woman! :lol:
Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with pigeons.
Post Reply

Return to “Trail Chat”