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  1. #1

    Default Shelter etiquette

    I've recently read on Trailplace.com about a certain hiker who arrived at a shelter on a rainy nite. As he entered, the occupants: a family of uncertain religious persuasion, informed said hiker they did not want him to stay due to their values. Said hiker said (basically) "Nuts to you, I'm staying. I'll also be changing my clothes (getting naked in front of them all?)." The family was so upset by this hikers defiant innability to compromise (stay clothed/conceiled) that, after prolonged pleading, they fled into the rainy night.

    My question: WTHeck? Shouldn't we expect/show more civility to the various people we encounter on the trail? If someone has a personal request (IE "please don't show your nakedness to my small children," "please don't hang your nasty dirty laundry above where I'm sleeping," etc.) is it unreasonable to try to "go along to get along" while sharing a shelter? If I'm hiking with my daughter, I would not tolerate random nudity around shelters, nor would I tolerate people imposing their values on me. Why would this 'HIKER' force this family to leave due to his inability to be a little understanding/compassionate and cover up?

    Am I misguided in my ideas of the use of shelters? There is also some talk on that thread of SOBOs not being allowed to use some shelters, only NOBOs. ???

  2. #2
    Registered User gravityman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji
    I've recently read on Trailplace.com
    Sounds like some urban legend. Well. maybe not urban, but at least rural legend

    As for the other comments, yes, people aren't as considerate as they should be. I've been protective of my space at times even. However, we all must try to educate others about being more tolerant of others and of what we want when staying in shelters. Or don't stay in them.

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    Not having been there during this specific incident I can only give a general response:
    1. No one has a "right" to a shelter and to expect some one else to not stay there because of their religious values. Shelters are essentially public places. If you anticipate that you are not going to appreciate having company then you need to make plans for staying elsewhere, such as in a tent.
    2. On a rainy night I certainly expect to change into dry clothes. And, particularly if my wife is with me, I anticipate that any one else in the shelter would simply exhibit a little common courtesy by turning their backs while we do so. Neither of us intends to parade around the shelter naked, particularly in front of children, however that's the way life is in a shelter.
    3. It doesn't sound as though this family was "forced" to leave the shelter, they chose to. And as mentioned before, they should have been prepared to make this choice in advance.
    kncats

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    Rocket GA->ME '04
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    I think I've seen that post, don't remember the details. You make it sound like they told him they didn't want him to stay straight off the bat, and not after he said he was going to get naked or what not. In which case I understand his reluctance to go away. Also, if they acted all self-righteous and talked to him as if he was less entitled to being there, I also understand his reluctance to leave. Most of the time, it's not what you do but how you do it.

    As for the shelter, I think the shelter mentioned may be the Birches in Katahdin, which is for thru-hikers only. By Baxter State Park's definition, a thru-hiker is somebody who has come through the 100 mile wilderness, and as such SOBOs don't qualify.

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    Eagle Scout grrickar's Avatar
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    I haven't heard of any issues with SOBOs not being able to use shelters; as far as I know anyone may use the shelters. There are rules about how long one is supposed to stay at a shelter.

    The GSMNP has rules that you have to get a permit, which we did on our last hike thru there. I'm not sure what that permit really buys you - no one every questioned whether or not we had one. They have some weird rule that you are considered a thru-hiker if you start and finish 50 miles outside the park I think. Are non-thrus supposed to give up shelter space to thrus? It was never an issue, I just was curious.

    As far as shelter ettiquite, people should show the same respect to one another that they would in any public place like a restaurant or office building. The thought that the trail is a place that people can act as they choose is a dangerous thought indeed. There are still rules and codes of conduct that should be obeyed, and that goes for anyone.

  6. #6

    Default Public Nudity?

    Is public nudity to be expected in shelters? Along the trail? Sorry, but isn't public nudity, public nudity: on the AT or along I-95 it is still illegal, right? Am i wrong? I don't mind public nudity for myself (an adult) but to provide an appropriate environment for kids is another issue. Do scout masters tell their scouts to shut up and accept that they have to get naked in the woods when cleaning-up/changing? My experience is NOT.

    I'm not a prude, little bit of devil's advocate, but what's appropriate? Clearly the hiker I mentioned in my original post was insensitive to the family, no?

    I would have said: "Okay, I need to get dry, then I'm gonna sleep over here. I won't bother you, don't worry, no need to freak out."

  7. #7
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    I would think that the family and the hiker would try and respect each others privacy. The hiker could have discreetly removed his wet clothing in a corner after asking the family to give him privacy (they could turn their backs). I rarely use shelters since I like my privacy, but I would probably be in the shelter if I showed up wet in the night. I wouldn't parade around in front of others naked either!
    Everyone needs to show everyone else civil courtesy no matter who or where you are!
    Some shelters do have limits regarding who may use the shelters. In SNP they are reserved for long distance (defined as 3 nights minimum) hikers, but most everyone uses them. I've never heard of SOBO hikers being excluded.

    Anita

  8. #8
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    If I am not mistaken, the SOBO exclusion does apply to the special "Birches" shelter at Katahdin. Whether the rangers will bend the rules, I don't know.

    I think that the theory is that a SOBO should have the ability to make a regular reservation like everyone else. That kind of sort of makes sense.

    Except reservations can be hard to get.

    Bottom line is that if you are going SOBO, you might want to consider making reservations for two nights at a regular Katahdin Stream site just as soon as they start taking them. Which means about two weeks from today.

  9. #9
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    Default GSMNP shelters

    Quote Originally Posted by grrickar
    I haven't heard of any issues with SOBOs not being able to use shelters; as far as I know anyone may use the shelters. There are rules about how long one is supposed to stay at a shelter.

    The GSMNP has rules that you have to get a permit, which we did on our last hike thru there. I'm not sure what that permit really buys you - no one every questioned whether or not we had one. They have some weird rule that you are considered a thru-hiker if you start and finish 50 miles outside the park I think. Are non-thrus supposed to give up shelter space to thrus? It was never an issue, I just was curious. ....


    Unless the rules have changed since 2002, the shelters in GSMNP are for people with reservations for that specific night at that specific shelter. An exception is made so that three thru hikers may stay in a shelter, based on the thru-hiking permit they obtained before entering the park. If more than three thru hikers show up, and the shelter is otherwise full of people with reservations, the thru hikers have to set up outside the shelter. At least his is how it is supposed to work. I never did see it actually put to the test. I did see a ranger hike in late one afternoon and asked to see everyone's reservation and permit (which everybody had).

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    Rocket GA->ME '04
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    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji
    Is public nudity to be expected in shelters? Along the trail? Sorry, but isn't public nudity, public nudity: on the AT or along I-95 it is still illegal, right? Am i wrong?
    I feel there's a big difference in somebody parading around naked (which some people do on the summer solstice, btw) and just getting naked for the sake of changing your clothes. I mean, the latter can take about 15 seconds and you can tell people not to look. If we're gonna talk about being accomodating, I'd say that the said family could do the hiker the favor of not looking while he changes so he doesn't have to sleep out of the shelter or sleep in drenched clothes. Wouldn't you agree?

    On the subject of nudity, I did hear a story from Tom Levardi about a thru-hiker who was a nudist and as such hiked mostly naked. If I recall, he said that when he came to town he would just wrap something around his waist. He had only had problems in one town by the time he reached Massachusetts: Kent, CT.
    Last edited by rocket04; 12-13-2004 at 18:38. Reason: correction

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji
    Is public nudity to be expected in shelters? Along the trail? Sorry, but isn't public nudity, public nudity: on the AT or along I-95 it is still illegal, right? Am i wrong? I don't mind public nudity for myself (an adult) but to provide an appropriate environment for kids is another issue. Do scout masters tell their scouts to shut up and accept that they have to get naked in the woods when cleaning-up/changing? My experience is NOT.

    I'm not a prude, little bit of devil's advocate, but what's appropriate? Clearly the hiker I mentioned in my original post was insensitive to the family, no?

    I would have said: "Okay, I need to get dry, then I'm gonna sleep over here. I won't bother you, don't worry, no need to freak out."
    Geez, not like this was Michael Jackson ruining around little boys without their parents while wearing his birthday suit.

    Shelters are kind of like a barracks. I expect someone will some in, and I expect someone coming out of a rainstorm just might want to change out of wet clothing if they are there. It isn't really public nudity, just a poor wet hiker trying to get out of the wet clothing, and it seems pretty selfish of a religious person not to practice rules of good samaratinizm by expecting someone to suffer and stay wet and cold so they can preserve their religious prudishness. Perhaps instead of trying to tell the hiker what he couldn't do, maybe they should have just told the kids to be nice and look the other way while the nice hiker got changed.

    I let my boys know ahead of time about such things - getting naked in the woods is going to happen and nudity like this is only something to worry about if you worry about it. In my experience, children raised with less uptight attitudes about little things like this become well adjusted people.
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  12. #12
    Rocket GA->ME '04
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock
    In my experience, children raised with less uptight attitudes about little things like this become well adjusted people.
    I think that's an excellent point. What is so horrifying about seeing somebody naked for a few minutes? It ain't the end of the world and it's bound to happen one way or another. People running around naked is one thing, catching a peak of a person quickly changing is another. But again, it won't kill anybody to look the other way for a few seconds...

  13. #13

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    But don't yell "Don't look" as you're dropping your drawers, it tends to have the opposite effect. It does work for a free cheap moon now and then though .

  14. #14
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    This all reminds me of a story from my youth in the North Cascades. We used to hike to a natural hotsprings--someone had built a square cedar box where the thermal water came in. It was an amazingly good feeling after climbing the 5 miles + 3,000 foot elevation gain or whatever to get up there.

    One day, a couple of my friends were soaking in the hotsprings, naked of course. (This was circa 1973). A huge, muscular, tough-looking guy showed up--they took him for a local logger--with his two young daughters. My friends began to wonder if the big guy was about to evict them--he looked like he might well be packing a gun.

    The upshot? The big local and his two daughters took of all their clothes, and got into the hotsprings with my friends. That's how things were back then--nobody was uptight, nobody thought children needed to be "protected" against a little nudity, and if you were willing to haul a heavy backpack up to a relatively isolated spot, you could take off your clothes if you wanted--it was all considered "natural." (Who's about to insist that wild animals wear diapers in case someone's kids are offended?)

    So, I'm w/ Sgt Rock and others above--share the shelter, turn your head when appropriate, don't be uptight--if you're really, really concerned about your privacy, why would you want to sleep in a shelter open to all comers? Haul up a 4-person tent if you want to shut others out. Don't sleep in a shelter if you want it to yourselves (that's what the hiker was told, btw---not to even think of sleeping in a shelter that wasn't full, even though AT shelters are clearly open to all until full.) But, above all, lighten up! We've got enough constraints to deal with in the city--don't import them into the little bit that's left of the wild.

  15. #15

    Default lightening up

    Actually I think I prefer my tent, not for nudity, but for a whole host of other reasons. While not a prude (I have been known to do the naked-wildman-dance-under-the-full-moon) I guess I am a little over protective.

    As for hiking 2000 miles naked: that seems like it'd raise some extra problems: sunscreen, ticks, general dirt not blocked by clothes, Poison Ivy!!...

  16. #16
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    Cascader, I think it is just sick for man to go skinny dipping or as you said soaking, nude with his daughters, that is just sick.

    But as far as the family goes, in the original post, it sounds like they didn't want them to begin with as said earlier. Also what make a family think they just go in and take over a shelter and no one else can come in. The family should not have been their to begin with in my book, especially if they were a group of 5 or more as stated in the A.T.'s shelters ediquette guide lines.

    Second I have come into shelters soaked and informed peole I was going to be changing into dry clothes, if you don't like hypothermia it's the intelligent thing to do.

    I have also been their with women,they informed what they were going to do, I said, OK, I will be looking this way when your done let me know.

    The SOBO thing at baxter is that they a lot of sobo's come want to stay the night and the summit katahdin and then spend another night, as explained to me by baxter rangers, when I was going to do sobo in 99 (which had to get off and do a nobo). Is that you are not a sobo until after you have climbed Katahdin, and then they ask that unless it is late in the day, that you continue because they are so crowded there.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by saimyoji
    As he entered, the occupants: a family of uncertain religious persuasion, informed said hiker they did not want him to stay due to their values. Said hiker said (basically) "Nuts to you, I'm staying.
    I was suprised most people are talking about the hiker and not the family. Seems like they were the ones that were very rude to start. I would have said exactly what that guy said.

    A sketchy paranoid family hunkering down in a shelter somewhere in the middle of the woods??? fugitives?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cascader
    This all reminds me of a story from my youth in the North Cascades. We used to hike to a natural hotsprings--someone had built a square cedar box where the thermal water came in. It was an amazingly good feeling after climbing the 5 miles + 3,000 foot elevation gain or whatever to get up there.
    Kennedy Hot Springs? If so, it's now buried under tons of mudslide debris. We hiked in from the Lost Creek trail and it was very nice to have that all to ourselves to soak in. Though I can't say I'd get naked with strangers for a dip in the springs. There's a spring near Stevens Pass where they all get naked, but I've never been to it. But on this topic, getting naked to change clothes is acceptable and it seems to me the family insisting otherwise was being unreasonable. Had both the hiker and the family been a little more accomodating to each other, I'm sure they could've worked out a reasonable compromise.
    How many more of our soldiers must die in Iraq?

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    Yeah, it was Kennedy Hot Springs. Wow, buried under tons of debris--that makes me sad, though I doubt I'll be backpacking in that area again.

    Interesting reactions to that post w/ its memory of 30 yrs ago--makes that time period as well seem buried under tons of debris--the Reagan years, the yuppification of the youth culture, the rise of the Christian right, the born again movement, the new cultural obsession with child abuse, some of it needed (like the exposure of all the abusive priests out here in New England) and some hysterical--what a long time ago it does seem, what an innocent and utopian (and kind of silly) time by contrast. Very different atmosphere then, esp on the West Coast, or at least my part of it in Seattle--communes, impromptu nude beaches on Lake Washington, nakedness absolutely fine when camping in the high country (tho' no one hiked naked--that seems intrusive and uncomfortable and I never heard of anyone doing it back then). But I guess I myself wouldn't take off all my clothes in front of my own daughter--not because I think it's "sick," but that in these times it would not send the right message. At all. But I don't think it was sick back then in that very different context--hey, you had to be there. And, yes, that time is gone--you really can't go home--

    Still, anyone who wants to change clothes in a shelter is OK by me. And anyone who wants a shelter to themselves for puritanical reasons should go to one of the places where you can reserve locked cabins, or lug that big tent.

  20. #20
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    Having worked at 2 "amusement parks" I have discovered there are people who (My words) "look to be offended" seems the only reason they go anywhere is to be offended, so they can complain about it, usually loud & long, to anyone & every one. And, (my experience) they blow the whole thing WAY out of proportion, making for a better story.

    Just a guess, this is possibly how the story really should have been told: Hiker came into the shelter, family DEMANDED he leave with out a please or thank you. Hiker stated factually "this is a public shelter". Family then mentioned "religous reasons", Hiker "whatever. I need to get out of these wet clothes, if you could please turn around while I change." Family refused! hiker changed as family stared, then complained he "paraded around naked" when all he did, following shelter etequate, was change from wet clothing to dry after giving fair warning.

    I have met people like this family, so, while this may or may not be how the story unfolded, I have seen similar scenarios enough to bet that my version is at least possible, even probable.

    Just another reason to avoid shelters.


    Doctari.
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