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Old 09-22-2019, 08:27 PM   #1
Justin
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Campsite Claiming Etiquette

Typically public Adirondack tent sites are first come first served, I get that. But Iím just curious what is the common consensus on the etiquette of someone coming in on a Thursday to set up camp for the weekend, but then leaves & doesnít come back until Saturday morning with several friends/family?

I have definitely arrived on a Thursday before to try & claim a choice campsite for a weekend gathering, but never ever have I left the site unoccupied for a night or two only to return a couple days later to spend the weekend.
Is this legal?
Thoughts?
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Old 09-22-2019, 08:38 PM   #2
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The only time I did that was in the late 80s on the Oswegatchie. I setup a base camp at one of the sites near the 5 ponds trail, left my canoe and then backpacked into Wolf and Sand for a couple of nights. I only did it in the early spring or late fall when the demand for campsites was very low and didn't take one of the "prime" sites.
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Old 09-22-2019, 09:19 PM   #3
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I imagine itís legal if itís not for more than 3 nights? I leave that part to the people who know the exact letter of the law. I certainly donít consider it ethical.
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Old 09-22-2019, 10:04 PM   #4
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It's definitely a dick move, and it's certainly not how state lands are intended to work.

Legally speaking... it's sort of a tricky issue. When I asked the DEC this exact same question a few years ago, I was told that the tent would have to be unoccupied for more than 48 hours for it to be something that the tent owner could be ticketed for.

Here's the pertinent regulations:

Quote:
6 CRR-NY 190.4 Camping Permits

...

(c) Upon termination of camping all equipment and supplies must be removed from State land. The storage of personal property on State lands is prohibited.

...
And:

Quote:
6 CRR-NY 190.8 General

...

(e) Any tent or other camping structure left unoccupied for more than 48 hours may be taken down or removed by the department.

...
It's the second regulation that seems to be the given standard for how long camping gear must be left unattended to be considered either "stored property" or "abandoned." You could certainly argue that non-occupancy for even just a single night constitutes "termination of camping" in the context of the first regulation. However, the second regulation appears to indicate that any length of non-occupancy that doesn't exceed 48 hours is in compliance with the regulations generally.

It's not uncommon in other areas of public lands to see a regulation requiring site occupancy during the first night that gear is present on-site. I've often thought that a similar regulation for state lands in NY would be beneficial.

One additional thought: You can't claim exclusive use of any primitive tent site anyways, even after setting up gear onsite, excepting perhaps when the site is already filled to capacity. So while someone might legally be able to get away with showing up early (within the 48 hour window) to pitch a tent to seemingly "claim" a site for the weekend, other users would be well within their rights to also occupy the same site in the absence (and even the presence) of the first group.
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Old 09-23-2019, 06:41 AM   #5
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I hope I wasn't making a "dick" move leaving my canoe and gear overnight while I hiked in and did maintenance on the 4 leantos I had adopted back then. I stayed the first night at the site on the river, the second night at Sand or Wolf and the third back on the river before heading on upriver. My recollection is only doing that once (because of all the tools I was taking in for each leanto); the other times I did an out-back in a day to check on each one. I guess I could have just stashed my canoe/gear in the woods and kept my fingers crossed until I returned.
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Old 09-23-2019, 08:16 AM   #6
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The livery operator from Inlet used to set up a camp at Otter Brook, bring in parties on the weekend and leave the corral and tents all week when no one was hiring him. But the Ranger was not happy about that and he had to remove it. I've always wanted to set up a base camp at the WCLW trailhead in the plains and the hike to Brook Trout, do West the next day, hike out the third day, but the 48 hour limit has kept me from doing it.

How do you know when "the site is filled to capacity?" Good luck with trying to wedge into an occupied lean-to where the "residents" have not studied state law, much less an open air site.

Last edited by Lucky13; 09-23-2019 at 11:04 AM..
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Old 09-23-2019, 09:32 AM   #7
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That "unoccupied for 48-hour provision" may go back to the days of permit camps on the Saranacs and elsewhere. Supposedly, if one left the camp unoccupied for more than 48 hours one had to take down the canvas tent that was over the tent platform and remove all their gear; but i don't believe this requirement was enforced all that much.
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Old 09-23-2019, 10:26 AM   #8
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I'm kind of a dick myself.

I'd take down their tent and pack it up for them to nicely pick up on Saturday morning while I enjoyed a nice breakfast at "their" site.
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Old 09-23-2019, 11:10 AM   #9
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How would you know the site was abandoned, maybe Ma and Pa Kettle are out for a day trip, coming back in the dark, and you just vandalized their legally occupied camp?
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Old 09-23-2019, 11:49 AM   #10
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I'm kind of a dick myself.

I'd take down their tent and pack it up for them to nicely pick up on Saturday morning while I enjoyed a nice breakfast at "their" site.
I'm not sure you would the legal authority to do that, you are not a law enforcement officer.
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Old 09-23-2019, 01:27 PM   #11
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I am glad I only did it that one time, had nothing happen and made it a day hike after that. I would be pretty upset after returning (usually just before dark) from a day hike into the ponds to find my camp dismantled.
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Old 09-23-2019, 02:20 PM   #12
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There would be problems if I came back to my camp after a day trip to find some guy who made a bunch of assumptions dismantled it.
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Old 09-23-2019, 03:24 PM   #13
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Me too, I often am gone from my campsite from early morning till late afternoon or evening, but I would be sad if someone took it away.
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Old 09-23-2019, 06:37 PM   #14
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Agreed. I can see being gone from your campsite for the day (I do that often too), but for two nights seems a little rude.
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Old 09-23-2019, 11:06 PM   #15
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I have encountered this numerous times and it has always angered me. Even in cases where it is legal, such as hunters getting special permission to leave campers on first come sites for weeks at a time, I would agree with DSettahr's sentiment on this subject. Taking a prime site for days at a time when you are not there, which frequently happens in places like Floodwood Rd and Horseshoe Lake, is definitely a d!ck move, legal or not. Where I live in the Finger Lakes region, this happens frequently at the roadside sites in the Finger Lakes National Forest and at some of the State Forest sites.
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Old 09-24-2019, 01:48 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by DSettahr View Post
One additional thought: You can't claim exclusive use of any primitive tent site anyways, even after setting up gear onsite, excepting perhaps when the site is already filled to capacity. So while someone might legally be able to get away with showing up early (within the 48 hour window) to pitch a tent to seemingly "claim" a site for the weekend, other users would be well within their rights to also occupy the same site in the absence (and even the presence) of the first group.
Wow -- I didn't know that. I know that leantos work that way, but I always thought the canoe camping sites were one party only. And frankly, while at some of the larger ones you could have two or more parties scattered around the periphery, at many of them I'd hate to have another party crammed in with me. I guess I've been lucky; it's never happened.
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Old 09-24-2019, 05:42 AM   #17
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Wow -- I didn't know that. I know that leantos work that way, but I always thought the canoe camping sites were one party only. And frankly, while at some of the larger ones you could have two or more parties scattered around the periphery, at many of them I'd hate to have another party crammed in with me. I guess I've been lucky; it's never happened.
It's happened to me a couple of times. Luckily the people were cool both times and asked if it was ok. I thought it was a little weird for them to roll up on a stranger but to each his own.

I did have one jackass barge through my campsite while I was taking a nap. Dude walked right up behind me and yelled "hey". It scared the crap out of me. At a minimum announce your presence instead of sneaking up on someone. Unfortunately common sense is lacking by many.

This is an interesting thread.
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Old 09-24-2019, 07:13 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by TrailBlaser View Post
I hope I wasn't making a "dick" move leaving my canoe and gear overnight while I hiked in and did maintenance on the 4 leantos I had adopted back then. I stayed the first night at the site on the river, the second night at Sand or Wolf and the third back on the river before heading on upriver. My recollection is only doing that once (because of all the tools I was taking in for each leanto); the other times I did an out-back in a day to check on each one. I guess I could have just stashed my canoe/gear in the woods and kept my fingers crossed until I returned.
From my point of view, stashing gear to make it easier to do volunteer work has a lot more leeway on the ethical scale than other situations.
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Old 09-24-2019, 08:12 AM   #19
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Wow -- I didn't know that. I know that leantos work that way, but I always thought the canoe camping sites were one party only. And frankly, while at some of the larger ones you could have two or more parties scattered around the periphery, at many of them I'd hate to have another party crammed in with me. I guess I've been lucky; it's never happened.
Me too. In more than 40 years of camping in the Adirondacks, I have never had anyone even ask to share a campsite with me. If there was a shortage of available sites, it was late in the day, the weather was bad or it was Justin, I wouldn't have a problem with it. I have shared leantos many times.
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Old 09-24-2019, 09:09 AM   #20
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...or it was Justin, I wouldn't have a problem with it.
Thanks man, but you definitely donít have to worry about me crashing in on someone elseís campsite.
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