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trail runners?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 4:28 pm
by torpified
It's quiet around here. I don't want to start a fight, but I'm seriously curious about whether other peoples' reactions to trail runners on Isle Royale (I mean humans darting down the trail, not shoe choices) conform to the one expressed in this post: ... he-island/

To oversimplify somewhat, the reaction expressed is that runners disrupt the wilderness vibe backpackers travel to IR to enjoy.

Like I said, I'm curious about whether people share the reaction. I don't personally (unless something incidental to running, like violating basic LNT tenets is going on), but I've learned that I'm not always typical. And I do have a nearby reaction, which is that forms of life centered on acronyms like FKT* and DIAD**, are alien to the IR vibe.

I'm NOT asking whether you endorse the drift of the post --- I'm just wondering how common it is for trailrunners to be experienced as buzzkills.

*FKT: Fastest Known Time, as in "the Fastest Known Time on the GRT is 8hrs and 7 minutes." (Illustration made up.)
**DIAD: Done in a Day. As in "the Minong seems like a DIAD prospect."

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:11 pm
by paulbates
I wouldn't trail run, but wouldn't mind within boundaries. If I catch your drift of where this is going, probably some informal etiquette should be involved. Mine? The onus is on the runner to slow to a walk to negotiate getting around me and especially hikers in groups. Some people may not be as mobile as others, the lowest speed denominator applies.

I would not be impressed or motivated by the "excuse me" that Jim DuFresne received and talked about in his blog. I would not be bothered by it either. It would not create a priority for me to get suddenly out of the way in a hurry, especially if I haven't figured a safe alternative place for myself or my group.

Don't get me wrong; I think I normally give way to other backpackers more than I get way, and I'm fine with that and leading with courtesy... especially on IRNP. But that's when I have time to see them coming, make eye contact, and take step somewhere I'm certain I want to step. I won't ever feel responsible for somebody's record/speed/segment/day/whatever.

In a related story, my daughter talked to one of the rangers at Windigo in August. A few weeks prior he'd be dropped off at McCargoe and completed the Minong in one day,---~ total of ~11 hours end to end. Since he went down to the camp at Little Todd, that's ~30 miles in ~11 hours including breaks and the ups and downs, bare rock outcroppings -- there must have been some running in the wood between ridge tops.


Re: trail runners?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 8:34 pm
by Donk_67
I'm a big believer in HYOH...while I don't understand the motivation behind the desire to rush past the scenery, I don't necessarily feel offended by those who do, just as I'm not put out by those who stay at the lodge and utilize water taxis for day hikes. Now, if I ever end up experiencing a rude interaction with a trail runner, I'd likely be put out by the individual and not the type of journey they were embarked on. -to be clear, I've always had positive interactions with everybody I've met on the island.

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Re: trail runners?

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:48 am
by torpified
I wonder how much of the sense of affront came from the apparent rudeness of the runner encountered? (#7: Be Considerate of Other Visitors.)

The post also prompts a question about etiquette. I'm a big yielder when I'm solo---there's just one of me, and I'm little and mobile, so it's easy for me to get out of the way. But if everyone were like this, we'd all wind up stuck in standoffs on the trail. So what's the prevailing convention? The post suggests that on IR, it's slower yields to faster. Elsewhere, it's that uphill hikers have the right of way, because they're toiling, and interruptions cost the toiling more. (They're free to cede the right of way if they want an excuse to rest!) I guess a prior question is whether there's a prevailing convention on IR at all. Wide trails + low density + midwestern decency might cover it. ... ght-of-way

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:00 am
by paulbates
Yeh I think the nature of the encounter was a lot of it. Somebody going for a record time or whatever does not overrule #7. I don't care if someone runs, but choosing to do that doesn't create a priority over my own safety.

Some of this is about what part of IR you're hiking. We saw a lot of narrow trail- barely 1 person wide, sometimes with long stretches of considerable overgrowth. The overgrowth was enough that we sometimes had to use the topography to guess where the trail was going. I took the time to stick a trekking pole in before deciding to step off (or even forward). In other words, I can't safely yield if don't know whether or not I'd go toppling off the side with a heavy backpack on. Other areas were considerably flooded out and there was really only one way around hopping on rocks, logs, sticks and a few high places.

The prevailing convention for me is: safety first and courtesy second. To Donk_67's comment, the encounters we had were all friendly and uneventful. If someone were to get upset with me because I chose to look out for my own safety over them running by at speed, that would be on them. I would go on and enjoy my IR experience and not give it a second thought.


Re: trail runners?

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 8:17 am
by Tom
I'm with Donk_67; everyone should hike their own hike. While the Coast Guard has formal regulations on the water (motors yield to sails, paddles, etc) it's just common courtesy for our trails. Everyone should be able to enjoy them as they see fit. I can't say I would share Jim's reaction, it seems more over-reactive, but I wasn't there. Just like the hikers/paddlers vs motor boat 'feuds' that seem to rise every now and then, it's not about the mode of transit - It's usually just the person. Some people are nice, some people are jerks. Footwear doesn't identify that.

As far a prevailing convention, after a good numerous trips to the island, this would be my personal observation of how it normally works:
- Downhill yields to uphill.
- First person on the boardwalk gets use until through; no meeting in the middle.
- Overtaking in same direction: This one is hit or miss; most often (and as rare as it is) there is enough trail to accommodate. I'll say that the times when I've been passing somebody or a group, I recognize that sometimes they are struggling and slogging and the last thing I want to do is make it worse or more uncomfortable for them. I'll figure out a way around them. It's nice if you can make some noise (like with your voice, too) because sneaking up on people on a trail in a place as isolated and quiet as Isle Royale can freak them out.
- Hikers on the longer Western trails seem more likely to stop for a quick chat, share trail conditions, and catch a breath. On the Eastern side it tends to be more of an eye contact, 'hey' and onward. (That's a wild generalization, of course.)

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:03 pm
by Grandpa
I encountered my first trail runner in 1997 on Long's Peak in Rocky Mountain national Park. It's not my thing, but I can't say they bother me.

Nevertheless, the question is legitimate. Our local nature center prohibits running so as not to disturb people who are doing nature study, birding or just enjoying the peace & quiet.

Isle Royale, of course, is much bigger, than a nature center so I don't think additional rules are necessary. Some visitors might.

I've found that visitors are almost always friendly and accommodating. I've always said that you meet the nicest people on Isle Royale!

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:34 am
by Ingo
Coincidentally, this popped up on my FB feed:
Hiking - "I don't like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word 'saunter?' It's a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, 'A la sainte terre,' 'To the Holy Land.' And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not 'hike' through them."
- John Muir

Personally, I appreciate the sentiment. But if someone else wants to run through the wilderness, live and let live.

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:09 pm
by vgeh
Great topic. FKT, Ultralight hikers, fast hikers, long distance hikers are popular topic of discussion in the hiking/BP community. Just like most would agree, I am with "Hike your own Hike" as long as what you do is within LNT principles.

I used to run and had an ankle injury during a marathon. For some reason I stopped running after this incident although I recovered (Call me lazy, lol). The reason I don't think I might not get into trail running at least for few years in the future is my lifestyle and my approach to outdoor adventurers. Running in general is very demanding physically. Higher chances of injury and high level of fatigue. In my current lifestyle, time for long outdoor adventure trips are luxury. I don't think having recovery days and perfect weather are possible for me. For example, my labor day backpacking trip at Isle Royale continued even though the weather was not pleasant. For most, that is not a day for running. After 100+ miles of hike, I drove 10+ hours straight back home and slept for 3 hours before going to work. My body was fully recovered in a day or two. Recovery time would have been much longer if I had ran 100+ miles.

Running in backcountry populated with predators like big cats and bears is another problem. As everyone knows these predators assume anything running as a prey. Higher chances of risk for runners than hikers. There are many other reasons that i can think of but these are top on my list of trail running in general.

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 8:19 pm
by Base654
Trail runners, in my opinion, cause far less disruption to the wildlife than do boy scouts. I have had trail runners pass me so quietly that they startled me from behind. I have have only once seen a boy scout troop before I have seen them.

Let us not forget the ranger stationed at Amygdaloid a few years ago. he ran his route daily and came back with reports of where to find moose.

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 11:53 am
by Midwest Ed
I don’t understand this whole argument. What exactly is Jim complaining about, that people don’t follow HIS rules? Would he prefer to impose a speed limit? What would that limit be?

The NPS limits the levels of technology can be utilized on Isle Royale. For other federal and public lands the rules are more lax, especially regarding transportation technology. The NPS also limits non-transportation technology such as hammocks and generators at certain camp grounds. They’ve even limited alcoholic beverages.

So what is a trail runner but someone who chooses to use LESS technology than the typical visitor. That in turn allows them to move faster. I think maybe Jim simply had a run-in (pun intended) with a rude person. There are a few of them everywhere, even very occasionally on Isle Royale. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and ages and yes, even speeds.

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:51 pm
by Kevinl
While I respect Dufresne for writing the guidebook, I find that blog incredibly arrogant and I'm confused what his beef is. Maybe he didn't like the encounter he had with one runner, who, from the description, simply said, "Excuse me." Dufresne intrepeted the person's tone as "snarky" while someone else may have interpreted that tone as "out of breath." Either way, it's mystifying that he complains about another trail user who said, "Excuse me," something normally seen as a polite encounter. The tone of the blog has a "Get off my lawn" feel to it.

I backpack Isle Royale but I also run Isle Royale. My last trip was a second boat of the year spring trip and me and two other guys camped in a shelter at Washington Creek and ran every day without carrying gear from camp to camp (because it was early, we could keep a shelter at Washington Creek for several nights, and most nights we were the only ones in the campground that we could tell). We covered a lot of ground. One day we did the Feldtmann Loop. Another day we did Huginnin Cove. Other days we did out and back trips up the Greenstone and Minong Trails. We stopped and stared dumbfounded at water and sky and rock and trees in many places. We lay down on the rocks at Rainbow Cove and let the wind and snow pelt our faces. We only ran into (ha!) hikers a couple times, and each time we stopped and visited with them and asked how their trip was going and passed on information about trail conditions. I can't see how that kind of encounter, or the encounter described in Dufresne's blog, could wreck ("take the air out of") someone else's trip unless they are really looking for their trip to be wrecked. He says we have a trail user's conflict, but it's a conflict he's creating out of nothing and he has no right to complain about use with so little impact. In fact, I'm creating a lot less impact than Jim is with his 40 pound pack or his canoe, but that's beside the point.

I also do a lot of running on the Superior Hiking Trail and me and many of my trail runner friends do volunteer trail maintenance work there at least a couple weekends a year. Most people I know who run trails try to organize for trail maintenance. That's a big piece to the trail running community. Many trail races require that runners do volunteer time working on trail systems. I'm planning another running trip to Isle Royale in the spring, where I'll basecamp again and run everyday if I want. I have just as much of a right to those trails as anyone else. If I see you out there and I say, "Excuse me," please consider it a friendly greeting.

Also, I don't really consider who has right of way. I usually move to the side and chat anyway.

Hike your own hike/Run your own run.

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:27 pm
by Base654

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:38 am
by Midwest Ed
The Virtual Tour feature is pretty cool.

Re: trail runners?

Posted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:57 pm
by Nick
Kevinl...don't forget that great food you were given at Washington Creek on that trip. I remember when you came into the campground after you fished your run.

I knew an ISRO Law Enforcement Ranger who was station at Malone Bay and did the Malone Bay to Ishpeming Tower run to keep in shape. Don't think there were any complaints. He and his son also did the Windigo Rock Harbor run one day. Didn't hear of any complaints there either.