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Old 09-24-2019, 09:18 AM   #21
Neil
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A similar situation occurs with regards to parking spots. I got picked up walking to my car at Clear Pond by two guys who had just left a car at the Elk Lake lot. They had a cabin in the area and would get dropped off the next morning, which was a Saturday. They had snagged their spot the night before.
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Old 09-24-2019, 09:36 AM   #22
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I think I heard sometime that in state-run campgrounds there is a limit of 2 tents, or 1 tent and a camper per site, or something like that. Backcountry regulations limit group size to 8 or 9, but what if two or more groups are sharing a campsite, do they count as one group when they're both at the site even if they don't know each other? A lean-to has walls that clearly define the space, but a campsite seems a bit more diffuse. Is there a limit to the number of persons or tents that can be on it, provided the tents are within the right number of feet (which I have forgotten) of the Camp Here disk?
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Old 09-24-2019, 11:30 AM   #23
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You're welcome in mine anytime Justin. I am looking forward to meeting on-trail or paddling sometime.
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Old 09-24-2019, 12:09 PM   #24
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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 agree with the other posters that you're probably risking legal issues that just aren't worth it by choosing to do this.

And even Rangers are very careful about taking tents down. They've got tricks that they'll use to clearly document (for use in court if necessary) that the tent has been unoccupied for 48+ hours before they'll even consider removing it.

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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 few times throughout the years. Nearly always on a holiday weekend, when the backcountry area I was camped at was filled beyond capacity. In the High Peaks, it's very common to see this happen, even on non-holiday Summer weekends.

When things get that busy, especially after all available sites are already occupied, I'll personally typically go out of my way to invite late-comer groups to share my site with me. It sucks to be that group that showed up late and is struggling to find something- anything- to make work as a campsite in the dark, all while they are exhausted and hungry. I'd even go so far as to suggest that a willingness to share your site during periods of high use is an important component of LNT- as you're helping to keep impacts to a minimum by preventing the formation of additional (unauthorized and likely illegal) campsites.

And that awkward silence that you get from some groups already occupying a tent site (or lean-to) is obnoxious and unbearable- they know that they're supposed to share but they're really hoping that by acting aloof and standoffish that you'll just go away. It's one thing to discourage other groups from sharing your site when there's plenty of open sites still available (it'd be just plain weird for a second group to move into your campsite with you when there's an unoccupied site nearby). I hate when people try to discourage other groups from sharing during busy weekends after everything is filled up, though.

Plus, by actively reaching out and saying "hey, we have space for you if you need it," I also get to dictate some of the (I think perfectly reasonable) terms of sharing the site. "Hey, I see you guys are looking for a spot to camp. We have plenty of room in our tent site that you're more than welcome to use. I just expect that if you do decide to share with us, you respect the fact that we're out here for some peace and quiet." I've found that by doing this it both makes life a lot easier (and the trip more enjoyable) for the groups that do end up sharing the site with me (and my group), while the groups that are looking for more of a "social" backcountry experience tend to choose to move on instead.

(Or, if it's one of our annual Duck Hole trips when my group might be the one out to enjoy more of a more social experience, it might be more along the lines of "you're welcome to share our site. Just be aware that we're going to be up late. We won't be super loud but we will be drinking and talking well into the night. If you're cool with that, there's plenty of mixed drinks and champagne to share with you guys too." )

Assistant Rangers (AFRs) will also encourage sharing of sites during periods of high use. At places like Marcy Dam, Lake Colden, and Pharaoh Lake, the AFR job on holiday weekends often turns into an "air traffic control" position, as they are helping the never-ending wave of backpackers to find places to camp. It's not uncommon to see multiple sites with 2 or 3 groups each during holiday weekends, all at the local AFR's direction, at these popular locations.

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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.
I agree with this statement. If your intent is to purposefully make the area better (through some sort of official "adopt a natural resource" agreement with the DEC, whether it be as a lean-to adopter, trail steward, or whatever) then there should be some leeway for you to engage in activities that might not normally be considered kosher (provided that said activities directly relate to your volunteer duties). Not everyone in the DEC would agree, however.

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I think I heard sometime that in state-run campgrounds there is a limit of 2 tents, or 1 tent and a camper per site, or something like that. Backcountry regulations limit group size to 8 or 9, but what if two or more groups are sharing a campsite, do they count as one group when they're both at the site even if they don't know each other? A lean-to has walls that clearly define the space, but a campsite seems a bit more diffuse. Is there a limit to the number of persons or tents that can be on it, provided the tents are within the right number of feet (which I have forgotten) of the Camp Here disk?
Zach
There is no single, direct answer to this question. I think that the original intent was that even if you have multiple groups sharing the site, you wouldn't ever have more than 8 or 9 people between the combined groups. But the reality is that some (many) areas are lacking in the necessary number of designated tent sites for this to be feasible during periods of high use. Rangers will be on the lookout for any single group exceeding the group size limit, but if there's so many groups in an area that you end up with multiple groups at a each site such that they total more than 8 or 9 people per tent site, most rangers aren't going to raise a stink over this. (It'd be a different story if there are open sites nearby and you still end up with multiple groups sharing a single site.)

I will say that the one thing rangers really don't like to see is when you have overflow groups that set up nearby, but not at already occupied sites. I.e., when the first group occupies the designated site, and then the second group sets up 50-100 feet away. This contributes substantially to site degradation (site creep, satellite sites, further devegetation of the surroundings, etc.). They'd much rather see 2 groups definitively sharing the single site (all tents firmly in the center of the site, 1 fire shared between the groups, etc.).

There's a couple of regulations in the High Peaks that could apply in that area. First is a regulation requiring that all tents be pitched within 15 feet of the "Camp Here" disc. So you could argue that once this 15 foot radius becomes so filled up with tents that there's literally no room for any others, the site has "reached capacity." (The reality is that this regulation is rarely strictly enforced anyways... 15 feet super limiting to an extent that most would agree is pretty unreasonable. But rangers will direct users to relocate tents that are set up off in Outer Plutovia with respect to the already established area of the campsite.)

There is also a definition in the High Peaks regs that defines a tent site as "not having capacity for more than 3 tents." Even though this is a definition (and not written as one of the "No person shall" commandments), a ticket could conceivably be issued for occupants of the 4th tent for camping illegally at a non-designated site on this basis, even if their tent were pitched well within the established area (or even the 15 foot radius) marked by the "Camp Here" disc.

On a broader scale, there is policy in the State Land Master Plan that dictates that designated tent sites should not exceed a 3 tent capacity. Because this is policy, and not a regulation, it does not affect how the public can behave (it's not legally enforceable language that can result in a citation to a member of the public and associated fines). Rather, this language guides DEC management of state lands. Essentially what it says is that any designated site that becomes so well established that it has room to readily accommodate 4 or more tents is a site that should be targeted for either rehabilitation or closure. So while multiple groups could occupy a site with 4 or 5 (or more tents), if it happens often enough at the same site then that site may very well be targeted for closure.

I've increasingly thought that the DEC should try the Appalachian Trail model of tenting areas in heavily used spots like the High Peaks. On much of the AT, rather than having designated individual tent sites, there are designated "tenting areas." These are areas that are typically about a half acre in size, marked around the periphery with signs, that are designated for tenting. As long as your tent is within the designated area (it doesn't matter exactly where), you're in compliance and are good to go. 1 (or at the most, 2) fire pits are provided for all groups to share- which helps to cut down on campfire impacts since every group isn't having their own, separate campfire. I think that this would work well to provide a greater level of flexibility concerning camping on busy weekends while still protecting backcountry resources. Especially in the High Peaks, were solitude is anything but a priority for the vast majority of backcountry visitors.

(Of course, many of those "tenting areas" on the AT also have tent platforms and composting toilets to further cut down on the impacts that would be inevitable when you concentrate a high level of use to a small area- both things that are currently against policy in the Adirondacks- policies that I wish would be revisited also.)
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Old 09-24-2019, 12:27 PM   #25
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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.
.
I have contacted dec for similar reasons
I often set up a base camp and have overnight excursions from there
48 hr rule generally stands,
you do have to be in the general vicinity though, cant set up camp, go home, come back next day,
problem is that aspect is hard to enforce, so they just go by 48 hr rule
even if they see you go to your car, cant prove your leaving for the day/night
or doing a quick run for last minute supplies
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Old 09-24-2019, 04:40 PM   #26
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I agree with the other posters that you're probably risking legal issues that just aren't worth it by choosing to do this.

And even Rangers are very careful about taking tents down. They've got tricks that they'll use to clearly document (for use in court if necessary) that the tent has been unoccupied for 48+ hours before they'll even consider removing it.
Well I'd only do this in a case like the OP state where I KNEW this is what they were doing and I'd risk it. I'd like to see them prove their tent was there on Thursday and that I took it down. It could have been anyone.

Since I'm not a total dick I'd pack it up nice and see what they had to say to me when they picked it up. I'd simply state I found the site "unoccupied".

I don't suggest anyone take my extreme methods, but I don't think they'd do anything or say anything to me.
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Old 09-24-2019, 06:28 PM   #27
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Well I'd only do this in a case like the OP state where I KNEW this is what they were doing and I'd risk it. I'd like to see them prove their tent was there on Thursday and that I took it down. It could have been anyone.

Since I'm not a total dick I'd pack it up nice and see what they had to say to me when they picked it up. I'd simply state I found the site "unoccupied".

I don't suggest anyone take my extreme methods, but I don't think they'd do anything or say anything to me.
I can agree with this, and I had mentioned to my buddy this past weekend if the site was still unoccupied come Sunday morning I was gonna make some time to check it out a little closer on our way out & possibly clean up the site. To my relief the occupant(s) (and then some) did finally come back on Saturday with 3 aluminum canoes. I have no way of knowing for sure exactly how long the site was unoccupied for, but I did pass a guy in a truck on his way out on my way in at 7:30am Friday morning, which very well may have been the occupant of that campsite. I can’t say for sure, but it probably was since there was also an unattended aluminum canoe at the launch upon my arrival that was still there Friday evening when I paddle back near the launch area while fishing. That group left before us on Sunday, and once we got back to the launch the aluminum canoe that was unattended on Friday was no longer there. So I guess in theory, he could’ve came in Thursday evening after work, set up & camped out for the night, got up early & went to work (or did whatever), then came back on Saturday with everyone else. In the end, they left behind a clean campsite so I guess I can’t complain too much. Just wanted to get some thoughts on the topic, since I don’t think I’ve ever experienced/witnessed that before. Thanks for the replies, all.

Last edited by Justin; 09-24-2019 at 06:44 PM..
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Old 09-24-2019, 08:26 PM   #28
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I would report an 'abandoned or reserved' site long before I messed with one. What would happen if it was needed in an emergency or you were discovered and got in brawl while taking it down? It could even be part of a crime scene and you just screwed up evidence.
Not worth the trouble IMO.
Let the authorities do their job.
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Old 09-24-2019, 08:49 PM   #29
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I would report an 'abandoned or reserved' site long before I messed with one. What would happen if it was needed in an emergency or you were discovered and got in brawl while taking it down? It could even be part of a crime scene and you just screwed up evidence.
Not worth the trouble IMO.
Let the authorities do their job.
Haha...that’s a good point, and might make me think twice about cleaning up an abandoned campsite & stashed camping gear again the next time. Done it several times. Whenever I report it to DEC usually nothing is done about it. I still have photos of abandoned/stashed camping gear that I have reported to DEC and it’s still there years later, and even to this day. No offense to those who work for DEC because I know that they are understaffed & have a lot of other things to do anyway, but it’s a fact that sometimes good willing citizens will take corrective measures into their own hands.

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Old 09-24-2019, 09:06 PM   #30
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If I think it from the other point of view, and I came to site that I left abandoned and someone packed my gear up, I would be a little peaved, but in reality, I'd just grab my stuff and go get a new site.

Perhaps my thoughts are different, but if I'm going to leave something setup for any length of time I go to a campground. In the first come, first served sites I stay the night there and move on to a new one if I'm venturing away.

For a roadside, first come site I could see this as a grey area, and I'd probably just leave it be. Rangers tend to check those more so I'm sure they'd handle it if no one was there for some length of time. I don't tend to leave my stuff at those ones for any length of time for the same reasons.

Now the other situation is a rogue tent just sitting out in the woods for some length of time (or other gear stashes). Those I would definitely report. People that do that kind of stuff tend to be, in my experience, not those I want to push.

Again, I don't recommend what I would do for a marked, well-used site, but I'm just stating, I would. So don't do it!

Last edited by montcalm; 09-24-2019 at 09:19 PM..
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Old 09-24-2019, 09:36 PM   #31
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A useful rule is "Don't touch other people's stuff."

Trying to guess if a site has been abandoned for a day, or 48 hours or whatever and then touching other peoples stuff is a bad idea.

Now, if there's a bunch of stuff that you see, and then you come back next year and its still there, you might have a reasonable pretext for doing the volunteer work to pack it out.
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Old 09-24-2019, 09:44 PM   #32
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Now the other situation is a rogue tent just sitting out in the woods for some length of time (or other gear stashes). Those I would definitely report. People that do that kind of stuff tend to be, in my experience, not those I want to push.

Sage advice. I was camped at the Goose Pond middle site once. After I set up my camp I walked up the trail to check out the farthest site. There was a ratty looking tent set up in the trail about halfway between the sites so I turned around and went back. I took another walk about a half hour later and the tent was gone. Whomever it was must have bushwhacked around me and didn't want to be seen. As far as I know that trail is one way and doesn't go around the pond. Sixth sense kicked in.
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Old 09-24-2019, 09:56 PM   #33
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A useful rule is "Don't touch other people's stuff."

Trying to guess if a site has been abandoned for a day, or 48 hours or whatever and then touching other peoples stuff is a bad idea.

Now, if there's a bunch of stuff that you see, and then you come back next year and its still there, you might have a reasonable pretext for doing the volunteer work to pack it out.
After 3 days of obvious no activity at a popular designated campsite Iím definitely ok with at least stopping in for a closer look to see if maybe someone is hurt, sick, or worse. If the gear appears to be left behind I have no problems cleaning up & making a couple internet posts & phone calls.
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Old 09-24-2019, 09:56 PM   #34
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A useful rule is "Don't touch other people's stuff."

Trying to guess if a site has been abandoned for a day, or 48 hours or whatever and then touching other peoples stuff is a bad idea.

Now, if there's a bunch of stuff that you see, and then you come back next year and its still there, you might have a reasonable pretext for doing the volunteer work to pack it out.
I agree because after months or a year it would obviously be trash. I hauled a few 'rolled clear plastic' hunting camps off the Wilmington Range once it was obvious [plastic was shredding] no one was coming back.
I always remember the flattened[by weather] camp found in Panther Gorge. Tent plus gear even food in a pot plus clothing. Was it left after an accident, maybe by folks climbing in the gorge or elsewhere? A crime scene? No one ever knew, so it was hauled away.
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Old 09-25-2019, 12:06 AM   #35
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May I digress? It's still camping! I recommend this for Justin!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdWsd-_4Ur0

Does camping etiquette apply here too?
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Old 09-25-2019, 08:29 AM   #36
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I recommend this for Justin!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdWsd-_4Ur0
Haha...no thank you!
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Old 09-25-2019, 10:45 AM   #37
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After 3 days of obvious no activity at a popular designated campsite Iím definitely ok with at least stopping in for a closer look to see if maybe someone is hurt, sick, or worse. If the gear appears to be left behind I have no problems cleaning up & making a couple internet posts & phone calls.
This was my thought exactly. Only if it was obvious that no one had been there for a couple days would I do anything.

Honestly I don't pay that much attention to most other campers, but I could definitely understand this situation if it is an area I was frequenting, and knew well, and perhaps a popular spot where someone would do something like "reserve" a site by leaving unattended gear in a site.

As I see it, if I take down their stuff and camp at the site, the worst that happens is if they go ballistic I pack up and leave. If they want to call a ranger and dispute it, I'd be OK with that too. I don't think he/she would have much sympathy for someone who did something like that, even if it is legal. JMO.
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Old 09-26-2019, 12:23 PM   #38
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Just beware of the Physcos

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Old 09-26-2019, 02:30 PM   #39
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Youíre number one on the death list now, Winger!
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Old 10-28-2019, 11:18 AM   #40
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So this whole predicament is a big factor in us moving to hammocks. I did have a nice gentlemen offer to share a tent site with us while tenting on a crowded holiday weekend years ago when we were just arriving to flowed lands at dusk. Tired, cold, hungry. Worked out well but made me think I always want to have a spot handy (well, 150' handy).

I would never touch someone else's gear. I see it like a parking lot. Yes, if someone takes up two spaces it is a dick move. No, I am not touching or moving the vehicle.

You are always welcome to join us if we got to a designated site first - unless your plans differ greatly from ours (heavy booze; lottta noise; wood cutting; pagan rituals; discussing politics, religion or stay at home mothers).

I was on a section of NPT, got a late start, had two lean to areas in mind. Both were occupied and it was well after dark. I did not consider approaching them at that late hour. You don't need Capt Sketchy appearing from the dark mumbling about lean to etiquette. I did announce "passing through, passing through" as I went by so they knew I was not a critter.
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