View Full Version : portable hostel

10-25-2002, 06:41
I have bought a portable hostel. (Oh no!). It is a 20 foot dome which sleeps 10 folks and has a furnace, stove, and icebox. I plan to put it up in late March of 2003 to provide the thruhikers with hot meals and a warm dry place to sleep. (Free of course). The really cool thing is that I can put it up anywhere- even on a mountain top. I would welcome any suggestion about where the best place would be for it. GSMNP is out (illegal). The ideal place would be (1) somewhere that needs a good shelter but doesnt have it (2) high altitude (3) a natural place to stop for the night (4) at least 2 days down trail from the last supply stop. My best shot right now is between Max Patch and Lemon Gap. This is National Forest Land and 1 day away from Hot Springs. I can put it anywhere from Springer to Roanoke for 9 consecutive days in March or April of 2003. If you plan to thru-hike next year, where would YOU like to see a portable hostel?

trail amgel manzana

10-25-2002, 07:19
Are you going to bring the "porta-Privy" from Watauga Lake also?

10-25-2002, 07:40
I had not thought of that. I was hoping everyone did their thing before they got to the dome. Maybe it's a good idea, though. Thanks.


Jack Tarlin
10-25-2002, 12:36
Wow. What in interesting idea. Will have to think about possible locations. Lots of possibilities here.

Oh. Not to be a killjoy or anything, cuz I think you're onto something really fun, but just wanna say a few things that have probably already occurred to you.

First off, make sure wherever you go, you set up at a "hardened", i.e. already existing, semi-permanent campsite, so as not to overly impact a virgin site---an encampment for 10 people for 9 days will inevitably impact its location, in terms of foot traffic to and near the "hostel," human waste issues, etc. So as to do no damage to your site, and to stay on good terms with rangers, maintainers, etc., I'd be very careful about picking a site.

Secondly, while it's great that you could locate anywhere South of Roanoke, I'd concentrate on the Georgia-North Carolina area, as the sheer numbers of hikers out early in these sections inevitably fill up existing shelters, campsites, and hostels, a "new" one might come in very handy, and this is where folks will really need and greatly appeciate another lodging option. They'll be new to the Trail and may have just come thru, or will still be going thru rough weather; I think they'll be really happy to see you.

Lastly, in choosing a location, try to avoid placing it where its presence may have an economic impact on existing hiker facilities that have been thru-hiker friendly over the years, i.e., don't place it anywhere where folks might be tempted to take their break, zero days, whatever there, instead of at an established business. There are lots of places down south that have have gone way outta their way over the years to help the thru-hikers in the tough early days of their journey, and these places deserve our support and patonage, and likewise, as well-meaning as your venture is, I'd hate to see any of these places lose business, even if its just for a short period, cuz hikers took advantage of a new "free" option that they discoved sitting at the doorstep of the established places. Anything that helps out hikers in need is a good thing; likewise, anything that damages or hurts worthy established hiker-friendly businesses is to be avoided.

Just a few random thoughts....otherwise I think you might be on to something. Let us know as your plans proceed.

The Weasel
10-25-2002, 12:53
Just a suggestion: If you're thinking of national forest land, don't assume that just because they have the "camp anywhere" rule that a structure like this is OK. I'd get an approval from them first; it would be pretty nasty to get ticketed for doing something this great for people.

The Weasel

Hammock Hanger
10-25-2002, 14:56
I think the idea is a cool one. Jack's post was right on the money. HH

10-25-2002, 23:00
gotta love the idea and second the negative on impacting existing industry. also, my first thought was the Max Patch area but if I could change the rules of God I would have it at Birch Springs Tent site but we all know the rules of the Smokies, I have just seen too many folks thinking there was a shelter there to find out otherwise.

10-26-2002, 09:31
Thanks for great input. I agree with it all. I do not want to pitch it near any existing hostel. The idea is to provide refuge in a place where there isnt any. Will research the Georgia-NC area. From the books I have read, this seems to be the area of most desperation. 8-)

trail angel Manzana

10-26-2002, 10:04
Manzana, you seem like a well intentioned individual, but this idea of a portable shelter is IMO, a bad idea. Some folks talked about ensuring that you minimize you impact on the land while setting up your encampment. This whole idea flies in the face of the Leave-No-Trace ethic. All you can do is lessen your impact - there will be an impact, and IMO, it will not be a positive one.

Suggest you check with the Appalachian Trail Conference and see what they think of your idea. Also, if you end up setting up your camp, please be sure to do so outside of the trail corridor. Thanks...

Little Bear
GA-ME 2000

10-26-2002, 13:14
If you decide to go ahead with your plan, I would hope that you locate your camp outside of the AT corridor. Hikers will find you.

I am having a hard time writing why I think this is important, since I suspect that most everyone will appreciate your hospitality. I guess what it comes down to is my belief that the formal trail should be kept as natural,cold and miserable as possible ;-).

10-26-2002, 13:35
Just wanted to post another thought after reading the post that this would be doing "something great for people".

Is that necessarily true? I mean, aren't some of the most memorable parts of our hikes the tougher stretches? I have enduring memories of a miserable morning thawing my boots at Standing Indian on my stove so I could put them on. I wouldn't trade them for the world.

I do agree that the sentiment behind the portable lodge idea is great. However, the execution bothers me the more I think about it. You would have to be very carefull how this is done. Perhaps I am just a grump, as I would say the same think about a hiker feed right on the trail or someone waiting in his car at a road crossing dolling out conversation and sodas.

Just my $.02.

10-26-2002, 13:43
While it is true that some of my most memorable experiences have come when I was most challenged, they have also come during a moment of kindness from a stranger. A smiling family out for the day. A ride down the street from a stranger. A bit of Nutella from a weekender (yes, I was almost in tears on Tray when he then produced some Beam). I think that the hostel should be a surpise. Guarenteed smiles if the weather is ****e.

10-26-2002, 16:38
Chris, I think the things that you're talking about are spontaneous gestures of kindness. A portable hostel is not the same as an offer of a cold soda or a bite to eat. It's not all about what feels good, is it? There is the larger picture of the trail itself, and the question of why we find ourselves long-distance hiking. Are we out there looking for the next tiki bar?

During my thru-hike I was blown away many times by the kindness of strangers. There were also a number of occasions where I felt somewhat unsettled by trail magic. It's one thing to offer a cold beverage at a road crossing. It's quite another thing to follow the pack of hikers for many hundreds of miles as they proceed north. When is enough - enough? I don't know the answer to that question. I think its worth talking about however.

When I finished my hike, I intended to do some trail magic as I live 10 minutes from the trail. I found that it had become so prolific, that it seems to have lost its luster, and may be causing more harm than good. I think other forms of trail magic might be more beneficial (ie: leaving jugs of H2O anonomously at a road crossing during drought conditions, picking up hitching hikers).

10-26-2002, 17:09
Thanks for the good input. Especially about the Trail Corridor. Is it a constant width? How do I found out where the corridor is?

trail angel Manzana

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10-27-2002, 13:32
Perhaps what you can do is set it up in a town with either no other hostel or one that freqently is jam packed, like work out a way to set it up in a parking lot or some area where it wont affect the trail. i mean most hostels arnt right on the trail right? so even though this one is portable it dosnt have to be stradling the trail or anything where it would cause damage. maybe even at a camping ground or somthing (if ya can get permision, but i bet youd get charged for it) or at waysides along the trail, i know many are day use only, but perhaps if you talked with the rangers you might be able to work it out, atleast for a few nights. maybe not though. its a great idea, but id say to try to avoid impacting the trail and area around it. the trail is a place where you can be in another world with out seeing signs of habitation, if ya turn a bend and theres a big dome along the trail up ahead i think itd just kinda be paving the way for more permanent establisments along the trail which i think would kind of deminish the experiance. i realize the great draw of hostels and they are a wonderful thing, but i tend to agree with others like tioneon that the most memorable experainces come from roughing it. otherwise wed all be car campers right? i dont intend to stay at many hostels, atleast not on my first thru, (yeah i know already planing more than one, but we will see) ofcourse i wont miss out on some of the more famous spots. and if your dome is still running hopefuly ill have the opportunity to spend a night :cool:

10-27-2002, 22:52
seems that during thru season rangers/camps etc. would bend a little considering one 'impact' is better than many and the structure you allude too seems to be able to house many.....I have seen yurts that are impressive structures and when placed up on a temp. wooden foundation can stand (and look good) for several years if maintained...the off corridor approach seems implicit in this excepting my comment on Birch Springs and the more I think about it the more I wouldnt mind seeing a yurt there....there was a proponent on the net several years ago who was advocating more shelters along the entire length of the AT with no more than 4-5mile spacing to allow those both younger and older more stay-over options when hiking...if you have the wherewithal to do this kind of magic I would ultimately suggest approaching the ATC and asking if you coulnt sponsor the building of a new shelter along the trail, failing that the refurbishing of a shelter in need of repair or enhancement.

01-24-2006, 20:31
there is only one way.private land.theres plenty of it and only the owner to ask.i know a spot in pa that would be o so cool.its a secret location where applebee shelter used to be.to find it contact the blue mountain eagel climbing club out of reading.of course the obvious place to just squat the thing would be any where its totaly rock.its okay to use a place like that.and using it on fragil land can be done in a way as to showcase minimum impact tecniques and to teach them as part of a mini welcoming orientation.for instance,.....hi wellcom to [make up a name like the fake house,or killtime or stallak 19]this is how we ask you to live here...etc.then bake bread all day and night in a brick oven with bricks you bring.and ask people to bring woods trash as a welcoming gift when they come to the hostle.you could pack it out with the car.great idea.very very good.