View Full Version : Tennessee Shelters
A great AT hiker named Campro once told me in Georgia that it would be in my best interest to not get used to Georgia Shelters. He warned me about the horrors of "Tennessee Shelters" and their privys. When I crossed into TN I soon realized what he was talking about...cinderblock walls, crappy roofs and plenty o mice. One beautiful day I wandered down past Cherry Gap shelter and decided to visit the privy...I was never so scared in my life, let's just say you couldn't close the toilet lid!!! He was right, these were a big change from the Hawk Mtn, Deep Gap and Plumorchard Gap shelters, and hence we started the phrase, "Worse than a Tennessee Shelter". Have conditions improved since the spring of 1995? Happy Trails!
While there are certain sectins of the Trail where the facilities seem to be in better order, or seem to benefit from more frequesnt upkeep (Maine, for example); I think it's unfair, tho, to condemn an entire state or section. You're 100% right---there are a few ugly shelters in Tennessee, but then again, there are a lot more people on the Trail in Georgia---I've seen some pretty abused shelters in that state, primarily due to over-use (Blood Mountain, anybody?) and privies that can only be described as Talibanesque. On the other hand, there are some wonderful spots in Tennessee, and some very dedicated folks looking after the Trail there. Bob Peoples, the proprietor of Kincora Hostel in Dennis Cove, for example, is the most dedicated maintainer I've ever met, and is always looking for ways to improve his section of the trail. So I think it's unfair to dump on Tenessee. Another thing, in Tenessee, a lot of times you have the opportunity to skip some of the uglier shelters like No Business Knob or Moreland Gap, as most folks wisely plan to continue along to Kincora or Miss Janet's.
That being said, there's a very simple, absolutely foolproof way to avoid shelters or campsites that are either ugly, crowded, unpleasant, or over-crowded----don't stay in 'em! Are you out there to stay in a box? I didn't think so. Anyone that chooses to stay in an ugly shelter or chooses to use a fetid privy has nobody to blame---it's easy to blame other hikers, or absent maintainers, but the choice of where you want to spend the night is ultimately yours to make.
Settle down Jack...I wasn't blaming anyone, I was just commenting on the conditions of shelters in TN that year. I maintained a section of the AT in Harriman NY for 4 years, and have donated over $1000 to the ATC and NY-NJ Trail Conference. I generally choose to sleep under my tarp most nights and agree with you on the "sleeping in a box" comment. Lighten up bro, take care.
Let's not forget that by in large, the AT is a volunteer organization. As Jack correctly points out, there are some very dedicated volunteers out there, such as Bob Peoples. But these people can only do so much. And there is so much more to do.
As thru-hikers, we all have an obligation to give back to the Trail, in some form or another. Think about it, and let's all do our part to make the trail better for the next hiker.
But, back to the post. The reason why we encourage people to bring their own tarp or tent is so that they have options if they don't like the looks of a particular shelter.
And having said that, I think that even a Tennassee shelter looks mighty good on a wet and rainy night. (Sorry Bob, don't mean to slam your good work)
The shelters which are stricly in TN (according to the Companion) are not that bad, really. After all, the best shelter in the south (Overmountain) is in TN. Watuga was another one that I liked. If I recall, there are only something like 8 which are stricly in TN. Some are spartan, for sure, and not up to the likes of Plumorchard, Hawk, or Gooch. But, Low and Blue are just as crappy as Cherry or Moreland. But, they keep the rain off and conversation is usually good.
Overmountain Shelter (Barn) is on the North Carolina side of the boarder, and is the only shelter maintained by the Tennassee Eastman Club with a Privy.
Regarding the location of Overmountain, which I think is perhaps the prettiest shelter on the Trail, Peaks is correct.
I am sure if any of you with deep pockets wish to donate to a particular shelter's improvement the ATC and the subordinant trail club(s) that maintain that particular shelter would welcome your money with open arms....is it not the Trimpe (sp?) that was built in honor of someone? and aren't there others? Maybe that could be your claim to fame-a plaque in a shelter denoting that you donated the money that funded the extended roof-line over a picnic table....and there is the possibility that your contributions are tax deductible.
It seems people have been very busy while I've been away in Canada. Yes, I was wrong about Overmountain being in TN.
Although some of the shelters in TN made be bad, I think that trail maintance clubs are working on upgrading them.
After Trail Days this year, Bob Peoples got a group of people together to carry supplies up to Clyde Smith Shelter, where we replaced the roof and added a covered area in the front for cooking. Much inproved.
And if I remember right, there are plans for a new shelter in the relo near Moreland Gap shelter.
Most of the Tennessee section shelters are your typical forest service cinder block shelters. The Carolina Club maintains from Davenport to Spivey Gaps, most shelters are well maintained recently built due to the remoteness of the AT on this section. Most do have privys. The Eastman Hiking Club is in process in building new styles of shelters and renovating pre-existing structures to become shelters, Roan Knob & Overmountain.