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  1. #1
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    Default Bubbles (thoughts on, observations of)

    A bubble is the groupings of thru hikers that travel along side each other in a non-official 'clumping' that can be several days wide.

    It's something that is of interest to me, how they form and why these natural groupings happen. Part of it seemed to be weather related, for instants it's suppose to rain tomorrow, so people at a hostel may zero there, people arriving at the hostel the next day will most likely stay to dry out, and both groups leave the next day, a bubble is formed. But also a 'hole' is also formed. It seems like nature is at lease partly responsible for the bubbles.

    There is also social interaction, people form trail families and it's comforting and one may desire to stay in that social group. Along with this group think may come into play as a consensus is reached as to where to go the next day.

    Yesterday I did consider a possible other aspect as to why bubbles form, I would call it a person with a anti-bubble personality. One who repels others (I'm sure we all met that type), that no one wants to stay with, and hikers will push on to get away from them. So my musings yesterday were just how strong a factor of bubble formation are the anti-bubble people?

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    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    A bubble of hikers just happens..Most everyone that starts a thru-hike starts alone or with just one other. Gradualy hikers who travel at the same speed and have the same likes or dislikes fall in together. They will end the day at the same shelter, hostel or town stop. Most of the time this group of hikers, bubble, stay together, more or less, for the whole distance.
    Grampie-N->2001

  3. #3

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    My thoughts are that the thru hiker bubble is 2 months long. Its just a crowd of hikers.That is it the crowd is spaced out and takes 2 months to pass thru a area. Never heard the plural word bubbles used.

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    On the AT, holes, especially early in the season up until trail days, are almost non existent except after a major weather event. It's like cities on the east coast used to have space in between them and now it's all filled in. The trail is mostly a series of bubbles that have many hikers seperated by short gaps with fewer hikers. There are almost no real holes.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    Yesterday I did consider a possible other aspect as to why bubbles form, I would call it a person with a anti-bubble personality. One who repels others (I'm sure we all met that type), that no one wants to stay with, and hikers will push on to get away from them. So my musings yesterday were just how strong a factor of bubble formation are the anti-bubble people?
    I have not seen that happen, at least not in the two months or so when I was in thru-hiking mode between Springer and southern VA.

    Groups form, dissolve, and re-form all the time. Folks get sick or injured, have a family emergency that takes them off the trail, etc.

    The vast majority of folks I've met on the AT are good people.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rafe View Post
    I have not seen that happen, at least not in the two months or so when I was in thru-hiking mode between Springer and southern VA.

    Groups form, dissolve, and re-form all the time. Folks get sick or injured, have a family emergency that takes them off the trail, etc.

    The vast majority of folks I've met on the AT are good people.
    I guess we all have our own experiences. And yes most are very great people.

    On my thru, on the southern half I was faster then most and traveled through several 'bubbles' (or micro-bubbles if you will), I did notice that there were patterns of varying concentrations of people with some areas with far fewer hikers then others that were very crowded. In the north I was slowed down and all the bubbles I passed started to pass me, same basic trail groups still together in their micro-bubble.

    Also In 'holes' it does not mean there is no one, just far fewer.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    A bubble is the groupings of thru hikers that travel along side each other in a non-official 'clumping' that can be several days wide.

    It's something that is of interest to me, how they form and why these natural groupings happen. Part of it seemed to be weather related, for instants it's suppose to rain tomorrow, so people at a hostel may zero there, people arriving at the hostel the next day will most likely stay to dry out, and both groups leave the next day, a bubble is formed. But also a 'hole' is also formed. It seems like nature is at lease partly responsible for the bubbles.

    There is also social interaction, people form trail families and it's comforting and one may desire to stay in that social group. Along with this group think may come into play as a consensus is reached as to where to go the next day.

    Yesterday I did consider a possible other aspect as to why bubbles form, I would call it a person with a anti-bubble personality. One who repels others (I'm sure we all met that type), that no one wants to stay with, and hikers will push on to get away from them. So my musings yesterday were just how strong a factor of bubble formation are the anti-bubble people?
    I don't know who first coined the term "bubble" WRT thru-hiking, but your first sentence doesn't jive with my idea of a thru-hiker bubble.

    As others have said, they just happen. That's because everyone hikes about the same speed and everyone starts (relatively speaking on speed and time) about the same time. And it's important to note that there is no strict definition of a bubble. At least under my definition, people do not need to "...travel along side each other..." to be part of a bubble. They just need to be in the mix. And there are multiple bubbles, based mostly on time of departure, i.e. early-March departures vs. early-April departures.

    And people are part of a bubble regardless if they are actively engaging in social interaction -- although that's NOT to say some people within a given bubble are not controlled by social interaction. When someone asks when the thru-hiker bubble is expected to roll thru any particular section, they are just wondering when one would have the best chance to see the bulk of thru-hikers. I do agree that weather does have an effect, a very cold snowy year will definitely slow people down, typically speaking.

  8. #8

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    Tiny bubbles, in my beer. I've always called it the herd

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    Never called it a bubble. Always heard The Horde.
    Everything is in Walking Distance

  10. #10

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    Bubbles form for all sort of different reasons, Lonelyness, friendships, same itenerary, safety in numbers, same departure time/day, ETC, but personally i stay away from the bubbles as much as possible I usually try and stay in the middle with one a couple days ahead and one couple days behind with maybe 3-4 other people, Since i started all my thru's in mid Feb I only had to hike off and on with a dozen people, I quess you can call me a Anti-Bubble Personnality, but their is several bubbles all along the AT, a Bubble can be as few as 5 or 6 people or as many as 40.

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    Horde, I like that a lot

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hill Ape View Post
    Horde, I like that a lot
    It is somewhat fittingly appropriate.

    But my OP was really about micro-bubbles, bubbles within the main bubble (or Horde - yes that should be the next term for it)

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    It like a human affinity chromatography column.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    It is somewhat fittingly appropriate.

    But my OP was really about micro-bubbles, bubbles within the main bubble (or Horde - yes that should be the next term for it)
    Micro-bubbles/micro-hordes...what's the difference

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