View Full Version : Walnut Mountain Shelter

steve hiker
11-13-2003, 12:07
Anyone been to Walnut Mountain Shelter lately, between Deep Gap and Hot Springs? Was reading a nostalgic account of this place in Then The Hail Came, George Steffanos's online book about his 1983 thru-hike. Apparently this shelter was dubbed Heartbreak Hotel because a thru's fiancee, also a thru, dumped him there in the 1960s (guess she was 'thru' with him). It was built in the 1930s by a successful moonshiner with a philanthropic streak, and according to the book was holding up pretty well, better than many newer and flimsier shelters. Even the fireplace was still working although it had a thick buildup of soot due to lack of a caretaker.

Anyway I'm thinking of going up to that area for a long weekend and am wondering how its holding up today. I definitely want to stay there especially since rain and cold temps are in the forecast and nothing is better than a solid shelter on a wet and windy night.

Lone Wolf
11-13-2003, 12:16
Best shelter on the AT. Sleeps 5. Wish they all were like it.

The Solemates
11-13-2003, 12:41
Stayed there a night last fall on a section hike heading back towards Hot Springs. The only reason I remember this shelter is because a storm moved in that night, bringing 40 mph winds with it. The shelter was facing leeward, so all the wind was coming in on us. We rigged our tent groundsheet in the door to help block it, helped some. Shelter was ok other than that, although seemed a little run-down. When we got back into town the outfitters they said winds were clocked well over 40 mph in town. Must have been even more than that on the mountain!

Jack Tarlin
11-13-2003, 15:24
It was still there as of Spring 2003 and is a very nice spot; a fine alternative to Roaring Fork Shelter, and it's usually empty. Great tentsites on the little knoll just above and behind the shelter.

11-13-2003, 16:02
I was just by there last week. The shelter looked like it was in good condition and the roof looked almost new. Does anyone know if it got a new roof within the last 5 yrs?

steve hiker
11-13-2003, 18:29
Either you're all going along with my scam, or it's been totally rebuilt since 1983. Here's what Steffanos said about it in his book:

"The AT finally turned off of that fateful road and plunged into the woods. I plodded the final wretched mile up Walnut Mountain to the shelter. I almost snapped when I saw the place.

"Were the universe to receive an enema, Walnut Mountain Shelter is the exact spot where it would be administered. I knew before I arrived that the place had been built in 1938, but its forty-five years must have been very hard ones, because it looks ancient. The floorboards tilt in every conceivable direction and seem on the brink of collapse. Wind and rain are blasting in through numerous gaping holes in the walls, and the roof makes an excellent sieve. Home, sweet home.

"Gloomily I trudged down the side trail from the shelter to the fenced spring which serves as its water supply, only to discover a tiny little mudhole encircled by a few straggly strands of barbed wire. There was absolutely no movement to that water -- nothing to flush out all of the muddy run-off which the deluge was washing into it. I stood in the rain with my empty water bottles, just staring at the sad spectacle for long minutes. I was numb.

"For the next half-hour, Dave and I lay dripping in this pitiful hovel, ranting and raving almost incoherently about the whole ordeal. The shelter had offered no respite -- it was cold, wet, and comfortless."

p.s. for the naiive: the condition of the hovel isnt the only embellishment in my first post:rolleyes:

Jack Tarlin
11-14-2003, 16:37
Hey Steve----

This guy Steffanos sounds like a spoiled, high-maintenance whiner to me. And not a particularly astute one, either---when most folks choose to stay at a shelter that dates from the thirties, they generally have a good idea what to expect.

For anyone genuinely interested in this subject, there's absolutely nothing wrong with this shelter, site, or water source. It's actually a very pleasant place to spend the evening. Like most of the older shelters, it has a certain charm, which a lot of the new places entirely lack.

Steffanos further commented that if the universe were to receive an enema, then this shelter would be a good location....can't speak for the universe's medical needs, but it sure sounds to me like Steffie would benefit from this procedure. I can't help but wonder how whiny the rest of his journey was.

The Weasel
11-14-2003, 20:22
"Were the universe to receive an enema, Walnut Mountain Shelter is the exact spot where it would be administered."

Well, Steffanos must know where to shove the nozzle of red bags pretty well, which says more about him than Walnut Mountain Shelter.

I laid up at Walnut Mountain for a full day in the rain when I got incredibly nasty tendinitis. It was a godsend, since I was trying to make it to Hot Springs, and got a half mile past it before I realized it was my hospital, and went back. Water was convenient, it protected me from the rain, and I enjoyed chatting with others who went past. Left a blank journal, which was returned to me later in the year, which is one of my most treasured possessions now. Everyone who wrote in it did so happily. I'm glass Steffy The Nozzle Stuffer wasn't one.

The Weasel

steve hiker
11-14-2003, 21:17
I actually enjoyed his book quite a bit, he has a lot of self-effacing humor in it(almost Rodney Dangerfield like) that sets it apart from other AT books. Like when he marched along in Virginia belting out a parody of the Daniel Boone themesong. "George Steffanos was a man, was a ....."

The chapter in which he sings the praises of Walnut Mountain Shelter is titled "Heartbreak Hotel." About that couple in the 60s ...

Here's a link --