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View Full Version : Alone or in a group, When are you more prone to lose the trail?



Kookork
10-25-2016, 17:28
When following white blaze or trail signs or a route do you think you are more prone to lose the trail when you are hiking alone or when you are in a group?

rocketsocks
10-25-2016, 18:17
In a group, alone I'm paying more attention, in a group setting I've seen people walk right past a turn-off while BS'n.

Lone Wolf
10-25-2016, 18:20
lone wolves walk alone. they don't lose the trail. ever

Dogwood
10-25-2016, 18:20
doesn't matter if i'm being personally accountable as i should be

rocketsocks
10-25-2016, 18:22
...that said I have missed turn-offs while fatigued and not paying attention. Funny how when you backtrack, you find the last marker and wonder how ya missed it in the first place???
So...

Another Kevin
10-25-2016, 18:23
I'm more likely to lose the trail in a group (distractions). I'm more likely to abandon the trail in a group as well (because I generally don't bushwhack solo).

Kookork
10-25-2016, 18:27
lone wolves walk alone. they don't lose the trail. ever

Lone wolves define the trails. Wherever they are, there the trail is.

How are you Sir? Is the heart pumping with passion as always?

Lone Wolf
10-25-2016, 18:30
yes kook. all is well

rafe
10-25-2016, 20:09
Really interesting question. I'd say it makes no difference. Mistakes are made at about the same rate.

1/2 of the time I walk alone. 7/16 of the time with one other partner. 1/16 with more than one partner. (Something like that ;))

Kookork
10-25-2016, 20:38
Really interesting question. I'd say it makes no difference. Mistakes are made at about the same rate.

1/2 of the time I walk alone. 7/16 of the time with one other partner. 1/16 with more than one partner. (Something like that ;))

I have hiked the same trail twice, once alone and once with a company.
My experience seems to be like this: When alone I am solely responsible for finding my way thus I pay more attention. I still lose the trail when I am exhausted or I am day dreaming deeply . When I am hiking with company and we are conversing then sometimes we forget about paying attention to the signs and although we should be less prone but in reality we assume that the other person is paying attention to the signs when actually we are both deep into our conversation and the chance of missing a blaze is higher while the chance of noticing the mistake is not as double as it should be.

I lost the same trail more frequently the second time when we were two hikers. In group hiking when I was in a club, We used to designate someone to lead and never engage in conversation and every couple of hours we switched the designated leader.

MuddyWaters
10-25-2016, 21:16
Dont know about getting lost, but group think is responsible for groups getting into trouble . I occassionally follow a bad trail, miss a turn, etc. Usually recognize within a short distance that "this trail doesnt seem well defined enough" anymore. Especially around rocky outcroppings on peaks, there can be several trails people create looking for views or camp sites.

Would others make same mistake along with me? I hope not.

Spirit Walker
10-25-2016, 21:38
I've missed turns several times while talking with another person. My feet continue ahead automatically while my brain is diverted by the conversation.

Kookork
10-25-2016, 22:19
I've missed turns several times while talking with another person. My feet continue ahead automatically while my brain is diverted by the conversation.
Good point. It seems that when we are on autopilot, we just take the easiest path ahead. turning sharp left or right is not autopilot-ed I guess.

rafe
10-25-2016, 22:37
I have hiked the same trail twice, once alone and once with a company.
My experience seems to be like this: When alone I am solely responsible for finding my way thus I pay more attention. I still lose the trail when I am exhausted or I am day dreaming deeply . When I am hiking with company and we are conversing then sometimes we forget about paying attention to the signs and although we should be less prone but in reality we assume that the other person is paying attention to the signs when actually we are both deep into our conversation and the chance of missing a blaze is higher while the chance of noticing the mistake is not as double as it should be.

I lost the same trail more frequently the second time when we were two hikers. In group hiking when I was in a club, We used to designate someone to lead and never engage in conversation and every couple of hours we switched the designated leader.


Yep, pretty much. Each person might be assuming someone else knows the way. Occasionally though, when everyone's attentive, the synergy works.

Skyline
10-25-2016, 22:59
There are very few places on the AT where you will not stay on the trail, even with minimal attention.

I recall two road crossings in PA where the trail didn't pick up immediately on the other side, even though there was an (unblazed) trail of sorts there. The actual AT was down the road, sort of marked. And of course in the Whites, where signage doesn't favor the AT (the AT follows trails that existed before there was an AT, using original names) and cairns sometimes stand in for blazes.

theinfamousj
10-26-2016, 00:05
The few times I have lost a trail have all been in a group setting. So group for sure.

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Hangfire
10-26-2016, 02:13
I definitely got furthest off trail while walking with a group. First day into Pennsylvania walking with a couple of friends, crossed a road and missed an arrow and a crude stick barrier and walked about a mile up a valley which actually had a single white blaze on a tree, not sure if it used to be the trail or not. We ended up at some sort of pump station with a chain link fence and believe it or not we were thinking we possibly had to climb the fence to carry on...we finally came to our senses and back tracked back to the road, each of us blaming the other for the mix up...overall not too bad, but after 1000 miles you'd think we'd of had better senses.

Hangfire
10-26-2016, 02:23
Oh yeah almost forgot, Pennsylvania also held the most confusing section just south of Palmerton where they developed some sort of alternative to the white blaze, I believe it was a white blaze with fuzzy edges. I guess this other trail ran with the AT for a while then diverted. I was certain that I was on the wrong trail for probably 6-8 miles until I finally limped into Palmerton...anyone remember this section? Probably been talked about before, but definitely had me as confused as confused could be.

illabelle
10-26-2016, 06:36
We went about a mile on the wrong trail in the Smokies. We had taken an unblazed side trail up to the AT from the valley below. On the way we passed an intersection with another trail. On the way back, busy with conversation, each assuming the other "knew" which way to go, we turned at the wrong intersection. Only when we got to a backcountry campsite did we say uh-oh. It would have been so easy to pause at that intersection, check the map if we were unsure, and stay on track.

Marta
10-26-2016, 07:02
I've missed turns several times while talking with another person. My feet continue ahead automatically while my brain is diverted by the conversation.


This. The AT is generally clearly marked, but it is possible to go astray. Groups are more likely to contain people who are talking animatedly and fail to notice change of direction indicators like signs and logs lying across the trail.

Wiki
10-26-2016, 07:03
I'd go with group. All it takes is one person that accidently steps of trail and then the lemming effect kicks in

cmoulder
10-26-2016, 07:43
No doubt, when with a group, or even with a single companion. Distracted by conversation. Did it several times the last two days on trails I know really well.

dzierzak
10-26-2016, 11:26
Oh yeah almost forgot, Pennsylvania also held the most confusing section just south of Palmerton where they developed some sort of alternative to the white blaze, I believe it was a white blaze with fuzzy edges. I guess this other trail ran with the AT for a while then diverted. I was certain that I was on the wrong trail for probably 6-8 miles until I finally limped into Palmerton...anyone remember this section? Probably been talked about before, but definitely had me as confused as confused could be.

Pennsylvania State Game Lands are marked with, of all things, a white blob. If you follow those, you'll find yourself off the AT. Similar to this:
36689
The AT goes through a number of SGLs in PA.

dzierzak
10-26-2016, 11:46
Actual SGL boundary marker:
36690

evyck da fleet
10-26-2016, 13:02
Definitely group. I've stepped over logs, placed there so that someone paying attention would not continue down that path, like they were rocks in the middle of the trail because I was focused on a conversation. Also get farther off trail in a group. I may miss a turn while zoned out by myself but catch that I'm off trail within five minutes.

Hangfire
10-26-2016, 15:25
Actual SGL boundary marker:
36690That's definitely the one...so dang confusing. As I recall there was a blaze about every 20 feet in that stretch and on either side of the trail. After a while they just all looked the same...someone left a funny note at the trail head berating the creators of this confusing system, I wish I had taken a picture, it was pretty spot on funny.

Deacon
10-26-2016, 16:01
The statistical reality is this:

If hikers chose the correct path 98% per choice (arbitrary number), then a second present hiker also chooses the correct path 98% per choice. Together, the two of them will choose the correct path .98 x .98 = 96% per choice.

A third present hiker, also choosing the correct path 98% per choice, causes the entire group to choose the correct path
.9604 x .98 = 94.12% per choice.

Each additional hiker present in the group further reduces the chance of the group selecting the correct path.

Traillium
10-27-2016, 09:48
I have hiked the same trail twice, once alone and once with a company.
My experience seems to be like this: When alone I am solely responsible for finding my way thus I pay more attention. I still lose the trail when I am exhausted or I am day dreaming deeply . When I am hiking with company and we are conversing then sometimes we forget about paying attention to the signs and although we should be less prone but in reality we assume that the other person is paying attention to the signs when actually we are both deep into our conversation and the chance of missing a blaze is higher while the chance of noticing the mistake is not as double as it should be.

I lost the same trail more frequently the second time when we were two hikers. In group hiking when I was in a club, We used to designate someone to lead and never engage in conversation and every couple of hours we switched the designated leader.

Geez I was the guilty party on the second thruhike with Kookork We chatted a lot!


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Leo L.
10-27-2016, 10:09
The statistical reality is this:

If hikers chose the correct path 98% per choice (arbitrary number), then a second present hiker also chooses the correct path 98% per choice. Together, the two of them will choose the correct path .98 x .98 = 96% per choice.

A third present hiker, also choosing the correct path 98% per choice, causes the entire group to choose the correct path
.9604 x .98 = 94.12% per choice.

Each additional hiker present in the group further reduces the chance of the group selecting the correct path.

Sorry - no!
If you like to do some mathematical calculations, the result should be that the likeness of error would decrease with each hiker added to the group - assuming that each hiker has the same error factor but would make the error on different places. When having more and more hikers in the group the statistical number of errors would tend to zero.
Something that doesn't happen, as most hikers here know by own experience.
In reality, there are so many issues that irritate the members of a group that in fact most if not all groups have a higher error rate than individuals.
Group members get distracted, followers strictly rely on the foregoers, group members way back in the cue have less chance to read signes provided by nature or the trail itself (it even may happen that a huge gruppe going off-track is forming a new trail).

I think, the error factor is lowest for a couple (same or lower than for a single hiker), but groups sure have a higher error factor than singles, unless its a military-like organized group, which usually put one or very few individual in front leading the rest.

rocketsocks
10-27-2016, 11:25
Copy that! :D

Kookork
10-27-2016, 11:31
Geez — I was the guilty party on the second thruhike with Kookork … We chatted a lot!


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I don't exchange our conversation for anything my dear company. It turned a soul searching solo hiking to a universe searching and educational odyssey.Comparing these two experiences is just comparing apples and oranges.

Traillium
10-27-2016, 16:30
I don't exchange our conversation for anything my dear company. It turned a soul searching solo hiking to a universe searching and educational odyssey.Comparing these two experiences is just comparing apples and oranges.

Totally agreed, friend!


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