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wordstew
12-02-2017, 15:11
If one usually prefers to stay in a shelter is one usually available IE: March/April during a thru hike...

I am curious as to peoples experiences: how many nights one spends in a tent/tarp/bivy/hammock versus how many nights spent in a shelter.

Any particular equipment you would definitely bring to use in a shelter versus ones you shouldn't

If shelters are available are they usually tolerable IE: most people pretty cool versus obnoxious/half drunk/sketchy.

I am considering bringing a Big Agnes UL 2 fast fly setup without a footprint and augment that with a Ti goat Bivy so I could also use the bivy in the shelter if space was available and the weather is not ideal which I would expect.

I've only sectioned during off peak times just curious to hear of others experiences and advice....

soumodeler
12-02-2017, 15:18
If you are in the bubble, the shelters fill up rather quickly, and I have seen a number of hikers stop early just to get a spot in a shelter. If it is raining, expect every shelter to be full.

At least this is my experience in GA and NC in the spring.

Slo-go'en
12-02-2017, 15:40
If you hike in the bubble, ie, March/April you have to make a special effort to be a shelter dweller. Basically, you need to shelter hop - go no farther then the next one and do it as early as possible. The later you arrive, the greater the chance it will already be full. If it looks like an all day rain, many of the people who were there the night before will still be there the next day.

So basically, no you can't count on shelter space and you definitely need a decent personal shelter. There is a good chance you will be setting up on damp to wet to muddy ground much of the time, so having a good floor is important. Bring the whole tent set up and be done with it. You'll want the full bug protection a tent gives you later on anyway.

saltysack
12-02-2017, 17:02
Highly recommend a bivy and UL tarp if your going to shelter hop. Iím only a sectioner and until recently never used shelters. Last few trips were higher mpd trips and must say a bivy was great in a shelter as I got in after dark and up before light so saved time without setting up a shelter. That said I was mostly alone as was late fall and winter trips so wasnít many folks out.


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JPritch
12-02-2017, 17:18
Snorers and mice. No thanks!

saltysack
12-02-2017, 17:34
Snorers and mice. No thanks!

I agree....I hike with at rat killing jack Russell so after letting him clear out the place normally donít seem to both us...he guards the food bag also. I wouldnít stay if others were there either...my arse stinks bad enough!


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Emerson Bigills
12-02-2017, 17:48
Different strokes for different folks. I left on Feb 20. Slept in my tent for only about 12 nights. Preferred shelters. Only got shut out of one shelter the entire time, everyone left Franklin and knew a huge storm was coming in. We all sprinted to get a few miles and hunker down in Wayah Bald Shelter. I got there about 3pm as the rain and wind picked up, but was about 5 hikers too late, had to weather the storm in my tent. If I had left after March1, I am sure there would have been more "no vacancy" signs at shelters.

Saw quite a few mice in and around shelters, but never really had any bother me, as I hung my food pretty religiously. Also saw a few snakes around some shelters. Can't recall any really bad shelter experiences. Most hikers are pretty respectful of each other. I was an early riser and could get up and out a lot quicker from a shelter than packing up a tent. Also nice to escape the rain and have someplace to cook and sit around. Great opportunity to meet other thrus and section hikers. You can learn a hell of a lot from other hikers around a shelter. You can also have a lot of fun watching newbies and thinking of when you were in their shoes. It's all good.

Christoph
12-02-2017, 21:21
I started on April 11th and the shelters were full (or too much for my liking) about 1/2 the time. So I'd plan of tenting about 1/2 the time until the crowds fall out (usually at Erwin or Damascus). My experience this year was people were pretty easy going. I didn't have any drunk people, just mostly high as friggin kite hikers. That gets annoying after a while though, although they were all very quiet for the most part. The party'rs save it for town most of the time, from what I've seen.

Sarcasm the elf
12-02-2017, 21:33
One major consideration to primarily relying on shelters is: Do you really want the availability of shelter space to dictate your daily pace? Do you really want to be in the position of racing every morning to put in miles before the desired shelter fills up? Do you want to pressure yourself to stop early just because you've hit a shelter with available space and suspect the next one will be full by the time you get to it?

TimOnWhiteBlaze
12-02-2017, 21:34
I've seen a only few dozen shelters on my hikes. But as the saying goes: We Are NOT Amused.

From the ones I've seen/stayed at, they're mostly somewhere between a dungeon and German stacke'em-and-packe'em labor camp. They're dark, dank, moldy or creosote smelling, and dirty. One can only imagine what they are like in a bubble with the mice, bugs, snoring, and noro-virus.

I concur: No thanks.

Emerson Bigills
12-02-2017, 22:46
I am always amazed to hear accounts from the bubble. As I stated in this thread, I left Feb 20 and had a totally different experience. I saw no drunk thru hikers in any town and any pot smoking was done discreetly at the shelters. Probably saw it 8-10 times, but it never was, or created any problems. Lots of shelter space and a great experience. Granted, we experienced some cold weather, but there were plenty of thrus to socialize with the entire way. Good mix of young and old.

Slo-go'en
12-02-2017, 23:51
Shelter availability is highly dependent on the weather. If it's raining, everyone wants to be in the shelter. Otherwise, not so much.

cliffordbarnabus
12-03-2017, 00:49
with your start date, expect most shelters to be pretty full by late afternoon.

shelter hopping transforms itself into shelter racing. all day you're thinking how you gotta go x more miles to get to y shelter. why?

with a tent and bivy, you can drop by a shelter and scope it out. it if it's money, cash it in. if it's not, grab water and walk a little bit more to a sweet spot of solitude.

also, remember that at shelters you will typically actually get sleep beginning when the last people stop talking...and ending when the first people wake up. oh. yeah. and then there are the snorers which prevent the interim slumber.

Highland Goat
12-03-2017, 06:58
Consider Southbound if you want the convenience of a shelter. I headed South from Katahdin on September seventeenth, and I could have always sleep at a shelter – if I chose to. Since the Shelters exist, they are lower impact than tenting – especially if you stealth camp. That is not to say that I always stayed in a shelter, as I carried a Mountain Hardware bivy. However, as the weather became colder the bivy served more to add warmth to my sleeping bag.
More Conventional Southbounders, starting in June, would also find shelters frequently available. However, there might be some crowding in the Whites when the northbound bubble comes through.

Slo-go'en
12-03-2017, 11:59
Consider Southbound if you want the convenience of a shelter.

Or an April flip flop. I had shelter space pretty much the whole time I was out, HF to NH. The small group I was hiking with spent most nights in shelters through PA due to the rain and then frequently after that. We only had one night which a 290 pound weekend hiker kept us up all night with his snoring. So bad it literally shook the floor! Was raining too hard to want to go out and pitch a tent, so we suffered.

JJ505
12-03-2017, 12:46
@Emerson, I'm amazed when I hear about someone starting in FEBRUARY! I have a friend starting around then. Sounds cold. But also if you don't want parties it definitely would help. :) I don't think personally I would like shelters at all. But then not going to be thru or section hiking anyway.

Rain Man
12-03-2017, 17:38
No guarantee a hiker will make it to a shelter each and every night. Injury, illness, darkness, weather, other circumstances outside one's control, etc. can necessitate camping no where near any shelter.

Burrhead
12-17-2017, 03:10
Just be prepared if you cant find room in a shelter. Remember...first one to start snoring wins!

Hikingjim
12-17-2017, 10:32
If one usually prefers to stay in a shelter is one usually available IE: March/April during a thru hike...

I am curious as to peoples experiences: how many nights one spends in a tent/tarp/bivy/hammock versus how many nights spent in a shelter.

Any particular equipment you would definitely bring to use in a shelter versus ones you shouldn't

If shelters are available are they usually tolerable IE: most people pretty cool versus obnoxious/half drunk/sketchy.

I am considering bringing a Big Agnes UL 2 fast fly setup without a footprint and augment that with a Ti goat Bivy so I could also use the bivy in the shelter if space was available and the weather is not ideal which I would expect.

I've only sectioned during off peak times just curious to hear of others experiences and advice....

It's great to have a nice light shelter of your own and to leave the shelters as an option if it looks good to you and fits your plans. Anyone can give their opinion here on shelters, but needing/having both options and figuring it out yourself will set you up well

wordstew
12-17-2017, 13:10
It's great to have a nice light shelter of your own and to leave the shelters as an option if it looks good to you and fits your plans. Anyone can give their opinion here on shelters, but needing/having both options and figuring it out yourself will set you up well

That begs the question if your aim was to primarily try and sleep in shelters what would be your backup if that fell through....tent, tarp or hammock

lonehiker
12-17-2017, 13:50
Any particular equipment you would definitely bring to use in a shelter versus ones you shouldn't

I'm not fond of shelters but did spend about 20 nights in them in '08. One valuable piece of gear I would recommend, if you aren't already taking one, is a ground sheet of some type. Shelter floors can be really dirty and I prefer to lay my bag/mattress on it instead of dirty floor.

FlyPaper
12-17-2017, 16:15
Take earplugs and learn how to insert them properly. Blocks out snoring and mutes the noise of other hikers who aren't sleeping.

ldsailor
12-18-2017, 15:37
As others have pointed out, your start date is during a huge NOBO bubble of hikers. I started my LASH in 2016 on April 3 at Springer and never really had much opportunity to stay in a shelter up to the end of my LASH in May. Then in October, I went back for almost three weeks and stayed in shelters except for a couple of days. A few of those days I was in a shelter by myself. I hiked this year from mile 532 to Harper's Ferry in May and June. The thru hikers who started at Springer had thinned out by that time and distance, so I was able to stay at shelters more. In September of 2017 I went back to HF to continue NOBO. For almost three weeks, I stayed in shelters exclusively. Get out of the bubble, and you can probably get a spot in the shelter.

Shelter life has its ups and downs. Usually, hikers in a shelter stop making noise at hiker midnight (when it gets dark). You can always count on someone waking up at dawn or before, but if you go to sleep by 9 the previous night, that is still a good night's sleep. I've seen mice. I don't care. Hang your food and don't sleep with it like some guys do (bears are a lot bigger than mice). Yeah, the shelters can be dirty, but so is my tent after a few nights of use. I never had a bad experience with an obnoxious hiker or a drunk one over 1,280 miles of hiking the AT. I have had bad experiences with snorers. They are the bane of my existence. Snorers know they snore, so I'm baffled as to why they sleep in shelters where they know they will disrupt everyone elses sleep. Sometimes you will have hikers on each side of you a foot or less away, but I just stick my head down in my bag and ignore them. A good spot in a shelter is against one of the two side walls. That way at least on one side of you there won't be another hiker.

A cover sheet to put under your sleeping bag is not a bad idea. I never used one. Don't get a Tyvek sheet. They are noisy as hell.

All in all, sleeping in shelters is not bad. Nothing is worse than a wet tent if it rains. And the absence of the need to pack your tent gets you on the trail that much faster in the morning.

Gambit McCrae
12-18-2017, 22:25
One of my best choices on the trail: Learn to love my tent and live in it during trips.
Snoring
mice
middle of the night hikers
crammed space
smokers
loud mouths

i dont have to deal with any of this in my tent. Maybe a mouse everyonce in a while but thats it. Now I will definately take up room in an empty shelter on a rainy night but if it starts filling up? Out i go, ill set my tent up no problem

shelb
12-23-2017, 23:14
That begs the question if your aim was to primarily try and sleep in shelters what would be your backup if that fell through....tent, tarp or hammock

I prefer shelters; however, I carry a tent as a backup. I tried a tarp one year with disastrous results....

Slow Trek
12-23-2017, 23:54
OK,I will fess up. I admit it,I snore. And I like shelters,especially if it is raining. Wish I did not snore,in fact had three surgeries to try to fix that,but still snore. I also carry bags of disposable earplugs and offer them every night to everyone,in an effort to atone for my snoring sins. Not much I can do about the mice,someone else will have to take the blame for that....

KDogg
12-24-2017, 09:50
If you are hiking in the bubble then the shelters will always be full. If you make it to them in time to get a spot you will be packed in there like a sardine. If you can sleep that way great. I much preferred my tent and only slept in shelters when the situation warranted. Heavy rain was one situation. Shelter all to ourselves was another.

ldsailor
12-24-2017, 12:41
I prefer shelters; however, I carry a tent as a backup. I tried a tarp one year with disastrous results....

Sorry if I'm hijacking this thread, but you have me very curious. I carried a tarp instead of a tent for the first time when I hiked for three weeks this last September. I never used the tarp, because I was able to stay in shelters every night. Next year, I'm going back to PA to continue my hike NOBO and am debating whether to carry a tent or tarp. I still plan to stay in shelters as much as possible.

So my question to Shelb is, what happened to the tarp you tried to use?

jj dont play
12-24-2017, 14:29
Shelters almost always have spots available unless it's raining/snowing.
Ground cloth a good idea in shelter if you got an inflatable pad. But your covered with the bivy


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