View Full Version : Where to Stay

10-08-2002, 13:50
There are alot of opinions about each and every hostel facility serving the AT. As a hostel owner, the best advice I can offer a future hiker would be to check the place out for yourself. If you're not pleased with the owner/operator, if the place is not what you thought it would be, if the facilities are not clean, etc., leave.
You have no obligation to stay. There always has been, always will be
rumors up and down the trail about all kinds of service providers. If you check out the thread about Rainbow Springs, you will find about 8
pleased folks and 1 who hated the place. That's the reason I suggest checking the facility out for your self. You know the Hike your own Hike. Well, stay where YOU want to stay.

10-08-2002, 17:07
Well said.

The Weasel
10-08-2002, 19:16
Well, not to be contrary, but...it's easier said than done to "check out a place" and if it's not clean, or has other problems, "just leave." I say this as a word of advice to '03 thru hikers. The reason? Well, I recall coming in to Walasi-Yi with some friends. I had a mail drop problem, and hitched into town and camped (of all places) very happily in the back yard of the local Episcopal Church. Some of my friends took up the offer of a local hostel/motel which does pickups and deliveries to/from Walasi-Yi, and stayed there. Not all of them were happy the next day, but their comment was, "We were there. We'd paid. We couldn't get a ride back to Walasi-Yi, and even if we had, it was too late to go on. We were stuck." I had a similar chill down my back as I realized that the Blueberry Patch was a few miles off the trail, and realized that, like it or not, that was "home" for the night...and a nice one it was, too, thank God! Similarly, when you come to the road where Kincora and Laurel Creek hostels are, they're in opposite directions, about a mile and a half apart. It's hard to get to one, and say, "Well, this one has problems, so I guess I'll walk another 45 minutes to the other one and HOPE that it's better." (You win with either one, by the way...although they are totally opposite in "ambiance".) And, of all the places on the Trail, let's just say that "Elmer's" is not something that ANYONE is prepared for in advance, and ANYTHING you are told about it is false as being incomplete. (One of the greatest places to stay on the trail, for me. But I know a few who got weirded out stayin there!)

To the trail's great credit, virtually all hostels and campgrounds have positive sides that far outweigh the negatives that all of them also have. But, as with so much else on the trail, serendipity is only half of karma. Read what you want, ask who you want, and even look around when you get there...the place you stay will still be different than you expect. Often better, sometimes not. But "checking it out" won't change the fact that, at 7:00 at night, where you are is where you're going to stay.

The Weasel

SGT Rock
10-08-2002, 21:23
To add a big ditto on that.

I hiked south to Pearisburg in 1999. The thru hikers I ran into were mostly late teens/early 20's types. They all said the hostel in Pearisburg was terrible because some ex Army Drill Sergeant type was running the place and making it hell. Talked about having to sneak alcohol into the place and how big a jerk the hostel proprietor Bill was.

Fortunately I ran into two people that said it was a great hostel. One was retired Army, and the other was an ex Navy man, both older and traveling slower. they told me the younger guys I had met had left trash everywhere. didn't pay, stayed over the limit of two days, and were basically a pain in the butt for Bill.

I decided to stay at the hostel, and I was glad I did. Bill turned out to be a great guy, and despite the warnings of the younger guys, he wasn't a rule crazed drill sergeant blowing revalee and yelling at people.

So, take what you hear about places with a grain of salt. I guess it is like taking advise on this board. Consider the source and decide for yourself. In the end you must make your own decision about everything and blaming others for your decisions is a cop out.

As Weasel said, not everything is false. But as I found out, some things are based on perspective.

The Weasel
10-09-2002, 00:36

As usual, you prove my point: To those younger guys (who sound like, yeah, jerks), the Hostel Management wasn't what they hoped for or wanted. But, having gotten there, they were stuck. (NO argument here that, when stuck, you STILL honor the hosts' rules, or else sit on the edge of the road all night!) That's why hostels aren't a "check them out, and if you don't like them, leave" type of place: Usually, there aren't alternatives; if there are, the altneratives are inconvenient. And even "checking them out" in advance, by guidebooks or even this forum can't always prepare you for what you're gonna find (remember the line, "the map is not the territory"?).

The Weasel

10-09-2002, 07:31
Come on Weasel, it's not that hard to leave after checking out a place. There are shelters, or at least stealth campsites near most road crossings. As a thru-hiker, you have a tent or other shelter with you, and all the gear you need to go with it. Generally, thru-hikers are very resourseful when it comes to finding a place for the night.

I had a similar experience in Hot Springs. I planned to stay at Elmers, only to find him closed for a weekend wedding. So, I got something to eat, resupplied and hiked on. No big deal. Just another adjustment in schedule.

And Rock's post just demonstarates that when there is a bad experience, there is usually two sides to the story.

The Weasel
10-09-2002, 09:25
All of us, in different ways, agree.

The Weasel

10-09-2002, 10:22
Regarding checking out a place to stay,I was mostly referring to down here in the Southern section. Especially for new Thru hikers. Everything is new to them, so finding a place to stay where they are comfortable is an issue. In the Neel's Gap area, there is Walasyi,
Goose Creek Cabins, and another cabin rental place that I've forgotten the name of. Or you could hitch into Blairsville. At Unicoi Gap, your option is to hitch into Helen, lots of motels. At
Dick's Creek Gap, hitch to Blueberry Patch, or go into Hiawassee,
Mull's Motel, Holiday Inn Express, Hiawassee Inn. Wallace Gap,
Rainbow Springs, one mile from the Trail, or hitch, cab to Franklin,
many motels to choose from. NOC, Wesser, chalets, cabins, or bunks.
Fontana, shelter, Fontana Village, Hike Inn. So it's really not that
difficult to check a place out. As to getting in at 7:00. To
my knowledge most of the privately owned hostels would appreciate hikers getting in during normal business hours. I do know that NOC
closes at 5:00. I believe Walasyi closes at 6:00. We usually close
at 6:00 during Thru hiking season. By showing alittle respect to the hostel owner by allowing them to have alittle private time will make
your stay more pleasant.

10-09-2002, 16:50
Well, I think that the same is true up north also. Perhaps the major difference is that thru-hikers have figured out what to expect.

Now, one thing that hasn't been said is that you usually get what you pay for. For a few dollars a night, I'd expect a tight roof over my head, but not much more. If you want a private room with linens, a private bath, cable TV, room service, etc. then you better go elsewhere, and pay accordingly.