"That is insightful.
Because it is true.
Even with others, we rarely hike together.
Each has their own pace.
You are never more than 10 min ahead, or 10 min behind.
But you dont have to stare at someone elses backside the whole day
And each has the individual experience of being alone in the woods much of the time, even though that is just an illusion."
True...and I really like the near poetic quality of was said above, as regards the hiking. But at the end of the day, I personally still prefer eating as a group; for me there is something special about sharing a good meal with others, whether in someone's home or out on the trail.
As I was typing this, a mental image of a hypothetical dinner party of BPL members (at somebody's home) came to mind: each one bringing a small pot and an individual serving, and cooking it separately for themselves ;-) Of course, I can see the reasons most people here seem to prefer to do their own meals when hiking in a group, and have no problem with others' wishes do it that way, but so far I have never done a group trip where we did not have dinner as a group. I would do it that way if the rest of the group were of that mindset, though I'd miss the communal aspect.