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mts4602
02-20-2010, 13:17
I called a couple days ago to get reservations for 1 of the shelters for next week and it is full. It's only a 1 night trip and with the weather we have been experiencing I don't expect people to actually show up. What if we just show up fully prepared to hike back out and car camp if the shelter actually fills up? Has anyone done this?

DawnTreader
02-20-2010, 13:18
better yet.. bring your tent/hammock and skip the shelter :)

DawnTreader
02-20-2010, 13:19
ah didn't see the smokey's thread.. is it still possible to stealth in the Smokies??

1azarus
02-20-2010, 14:30
this past fall i made reservations for a quick south end to north end AT smokies hike in late september, and had a hell of a time getting official space... call, reserve, call, change when space became available, call, busy... call, busy... then i ended up spending a night entirely alone in a shelter, one night with two unregistered hikers and no one else, and one night with a pretty full but still plenty of room shelter. i'd suggest you make plausable reservations so you are not a scoff-law, and then stay in whatever shelter you want.

1azarus
02-20-2010, 14:31
... all right, all right, you would be a scoff-law, but at least you wouldn't appear so much like one!

generoll
02-20-2010, 19:04
You could always hike the BMT through the park and avoid shelters altogether.

Scaper
02-20-2010, 19:22
As of today there is still 2-3 feet of snow over 5000 feet in the smokies.

Rick500
02-20-2010, 20:35
Off-topic, but just noticed you're also from Louisville. I've been meaning to get on some local trails here. Any recommendations?

SGT Rock
02-20-2010, 20:38
Off-topic, but just noticed you're also from Louisville. I've been meaning to get on some local trails here. Any recommendations?

For day hiking there is Otter Creek Park. For overnight hiking there is Mammoth Cave National Park which has about 90 miles of trail if I remember correctly. It is about 1-1.5 hours south on I-65.

Rick500
02-20-2010, 20:42
I've been to Mammoth Cave a couple of times, but wasn't really into hiking back then and didn't realize there was such a trail system there. I'll definitely have to check that out. Thanks.

Will look into Otter Creek Park as well.

SGT Rock
02-20-2010, 20:46
I've been to Mammoth Cave a couple of times, but wasn't really into hiking back then and didn't realize there was such a trail system there. I'll definitely have to check that out. Thanks.

Will look into Otter Creek Park as well.

Otter Creek Park is north west of Fort Knox. Many of the trails in Mammoth cave are multi-use horse and hiker. You must stay in designated campsites, and you must have a reservation for that site - but the reservation is free. The cool thing is if you have a reserved campsite it also means you are the only one that will be there. Some of them are off the beaten path so you can have private time if you like it.

scooterdogma
02-21-2010, 08:31
Try the Red River Gorge, amazing hiking trails and over 80 natural arches, unusual vegetation, and gorgeous scenery.

http://www.redrivergorge.org (http://www.redrivergorge.org/)
http://www.redrivergorge.com (http://www.redrivergorge.com/)
www.fs.fed.us/r8/boone/districts/cumberland/clifty.shtml (http://www.whiteblaze.net/www.fs.fed.us/r8/boone/districts/cumberland/clifty.shtml)

Shadowmoss
02-21-2010, 12:50
The Harrison-Crawford (Co.) area north of the river also used to have some nice trails. They changed everything's name since I used to hike there, back in the <cough> 70's.

trailangelbronco
02-21-2010, 15:14
When I section hike, I usually skip the shelters. Often allows me to sleep better and to get more miles in a day. I am sure that when I thru hike the AT, I will probably sleep in more shelters as when the body starts to hurt, it will be nice to not have to deal with extra tasks like setting up tents.

mts4602
02-22-2010, 22:43
Yes Red River Gorge is awesome.

We are going to just go and hope some people just don't show up. If it turns out to be full we'll just hike out. With all of the snow that is still on the ground I am betting it doesn't fill up.

Egads
02-22-2010, 23:16
ah didn't see the smokey's thread.. is it still possible to stealth in the Smokies??

yes, just set up camp off trail at nightfall and get moving early

Chaco Taco
02-22-2010, 23:40
yes, just set up camp off trail at nightfall and get moving early

Closer to the middle of the park, inbetween the BMT and AT there are some ridge trails with campsites, no shelters!

Powder River
02-23-2010, 00:58
The Smokies shelter reservation system is a joke. The "ridgerunner" and his trainee took up 2 spots normally used by thru hikers when I was there, and was a jerk about it. He kicked the rest of us out of an otherwise empty shelter, because it was "full." The reserved people never showed of course. Just be sure you have a tent and do whatever you want. What are they going to do, write you a parking ticket?

thelowend
02-23-2010, 01:28
^that sort of ****e makes me laugh and shake my head at the same time.. do they actually stay there all night and patrol the shelters to make sure no matter how empty it stayed that yall didn't sleep in it because yall didnt reserve them?

Gladiator
02-23-2010, 05:38
I've been to Mammoth Cave a couple of times, but wasn't really into hiking back then and didn't realize there was such a trail system there. I'll definitely have to check that out. Thanks.

Will look into Otter Creek Park as well.


Otter Creek Park became an economic casualty 14 months ago. The trails are closed.

10-K
02-23-2010, 08:05
i'd suggest you make plausable reservations so you are not a scoff-law, and then stay in whatever shelter you want.

Agree. It seems like the shelter reservation system is really more for limiting the number of people hiking the trail than it is to reserve space in a shelter. As busy as GSMNP is, there would be hiker traffic jams on the AT otherwise.

Make reservations wherever you can and then stay at whatever shelter you get to that evening. When I hiked GSMNP I had shelter reservations and after the 1st night the shelter reservations went out the window.

A topic of converstation every evening was that almost everyone wasn't they were supposed to be.

Ox97GaMe
02-23-2010, 09:15
The reservation system is NOT intended to limit number of hikers in the park. It is intended to provide some ressemblance of order to backcountry camping in the nations most visited park. It helps disperse hikers across the park, instead of at just the handful of most popular locations. There isnt a park ranger stationed at every campsite and shelter (as is the case in some national parks) and there isnt a fine for being at a location without a proper permit.

Also remember that the system is for ALL folks in the park. Many folks on this forum are experienced hikers. A lot of folks that go into the park are not. Many folks in the park cant read a topo map, dont have any concept of what hiking 10 miles in mountains is really like. Talking with a ranger before they overcommit is not a bad thing.

Another benefit of the reservation system (that folks forget or doesnt know) is that it is helpful to the park in cases of issues/emergencies, such as inclement weather, wildfires, or agressive bear activity. When these type of events happen, the park service tries to contact folks that have reservations to those locations in upcoming days. They also send people into areas to check on hikers that may already be in the park and not aware of the situation.

Overall, the reservation system is a good thing if used properly. The biggest problem I see is that there are a lot of folks who have the perception that it as a way for the government to control people. Or that it in some way limits what THEY want to do and therefore it is bad. Sometimes people need to step back and look at things from different perspectives.

10-K
02-23-2010, 09:30
The reservation system is NOT intended to limit number of hikers in the park. It is intended to provide some ressemblance of order to backcountry camping in the nations most visited park. It helps disperse hikers across the park, instead of at just the handful of most popular locations. There isnt a park ranger stationed at every campsite and shelter (as is the case in some national parks) and there isnt a fine for being at a location without a proper permit.


I think we are saying pretty much the same thing.

At any rate, there are x number of shelters limited to y number of hikers so the number of hikers IS limited, intent or not.

mts4602
02-23-2010, 09:31
there isnt a fine for being at a location without a proper permit.

Really? Or is that supposed to be an "IS"?

10-K
02-23-2010, 09:42
Really? Or is that supposed to be an "IS"?

is not.......

mts4602
02-23-2010, 09:53
is not.......

So then what are people talking about when they talk about fines? Stealth camping?

max patch
02-23-2010, 10:43
I (with permit) was at a shelter with 2 hikers (no permit) who decided at the last minute to spend the nite at a shelter. A ranger saw their footprints in the snow and knew that no one was supposed to be at that shelter coming from that direction. The ranger hiked in and gave them both a ticket. Anyone who says there are no tickets if you get catch stealth camping is flat out wrong.

10-K
02-23-2010, 11:05
I (with permit) was at a shelter with 2 hikers (no permit) who decided at the last minute to spend the nite at a shelter. A ranger saw their footprints in the snow and knew that no one was supposed to be at that shelter coming from that direction. The ranger hiked in and gave them both a ticket. Anyone who says there are no tickets if you get catch stealth camping is flat out wrong.

Someone got a ticket for being at a shelter they didn't have a reservation at?

max patch
02-23-2010, 11:14
Someone got a ticket for being at a shelter they didn't have a reservation at?

Yes. They had no permit at all which is why (my guess) they were fined.

10-K
02-23-2010, 11:17
Yes. They had no permit at all which is why (my guess) they were fined.

There's a difference between having a backcountry permit and a shelter reservation.

You'll definitely get a ticket for not having a backcountry permit.

I can't imagine getting a ticket for being at a shelter w/o a reservation - there are just too many variables that could cause a hiker to not be where they're supposed to be. We all know you can plan a hike, but things happen beyond your control. Can you imagine getting a ticket for not hiking fast enough to get to the shelter you had a reservation for?

rgarling
02-23-2010, 11:18
Isn't stealth camping in GSMNP unauthorized overnight camping outside of a shelter? I don't think you can call staying in a shelter stealth camping.

For what it is worth, only a Ranger can issue a ticket (not a ridge runner). I suppose a ranger would write a ticket if someone was overnighting in a shelter with no reservations anywhere in GSMNP. Even then, they would likely have to have been asking for trouble (i.e. disrespectful).

mts4602
02-23-2010, 12:59
Even then, they would likely have to have been asking for trouble (i.e. disrespectful).

That's what I figure as well.

Does anybody patrol Leconte right now?

Appalachian Tater
02-23-2010, 16:11
Has anyone heard of anyone getting a fine for staying in the wrong shelter? In other words, they had a permit and a reservation, but they were in the wrong place?

For the OP, I would just make a reservation at a different shelter and not worry about it.

That ridgerunner kicking people out of the shelter sounds like a trip. The ridgerunner in 2006 was more concerned that everyone had a permit to show a ranger and had extras to give to anyone who hadn't picked one up. Not that there were any rangers around except behind a steering wheel.

Ashepabst
02-23-2010, 16:28
Does anybody patrol Leconte right now?

just the lodge caretaker, i think. the ridgerunners stay on the AT.

Ox97GaMe
02-23-2010, 16:58
Clarification on a couple of things....

In GSMNP, when a shelter is full, it is permitted to camp within sight of the shelter; usually 50-100 yards. There are flat areas that can be used that are away from the privy area and water sources at almost all of the shelters.

Stealth camping in the park means you are camping somewhere that is not a designated campsite or shelter without proper permission. Setting up your tent or hammock within sight of the shelter is not stealthing.

Each of the shelters in GSMNP has either 2 or 4 bunk positions that do not get filled via reservations. This varies based on sleeping capacity of the shelter. These are set aside for the purpose of folks that are walking end to end of the park (ie thru hikers).

Anyone can drive to the park and fill out a backcountry permit without calling in for a reservation. Even when you call in, they ask you to fill out the permit form when you get to the park and drop it in one of the boxes. The park offices are not open 24/7/365, but access to the blank permit forms is.

If you choose not to make a reservation, then you need to be prepared to camp outside the shelter if it is full. Reservations always take precidence over walk-ins. (no pun intended)

GSMNP rangers wont give you a ticket if you are at a shelter without a reservation. However, they will ask what your itinerary is and fill out a backcountry permit for you and call it in. They will also give alternatives if a shelter or campsite you plan to stay at is showing as fully reserved.

You may not see a ranger in the backcountry. Rangers often ask backpackers to show their permit when they encounter them at the trailheads.

As for getting fined. You can, and usually will, get fined if if a ranger catches you; illegally camped away from designated areas, littering, harassing/endangering/harming wildlife or other hikers, collecting rocks, destroying/damaging live vegetation (picking flowers, cutting green firewood, carvingon trees, etc), or breaking any laws.

freefall
02-23-2010, 17:42
As of today there is still 2-3 feet of snow over 5000 feet in the smokies.
Heck yeah!

mts4602
02-23-2010, 17:44
Clarification on a couple of things....

In GSMNP, when a shelter is full, it is permitted to camp within sight of the shelter; usually 50-100 yards. There are flat areas that can be used that are away from the privy area and water sources at almost all of the shelters.

Anyone can drive to the park and fill out a backcountry permit without calling in for a reservation. Even when you call in, they ask you to fill out the permit form when you get to the park and drop it in one of the boxes. The park offices are not open 24/7/365, but access to the blank permit forms is.



Per the park website:

"Advance reservations are required to camp at the following sites:
ē All shelters
ē Backcountry Campsites 9, 10, 13, 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 29, 36, 37, 38, 46, 47, 50, 55, 57, 60, 61, 71, 83, 86, 90, 113

Reservations for backcountry campsites may be obtained only by calling the phone number listed above. They are not available on the Internet or through email."

The only way you can sleep outside the shelter when it's full is if you are registered at one end of the park as a thru hiker. In that case, yes you can just walk up and fill out a form. Everybody else has to call that number.

aBRG2far
02-25-2010, 19:58
just the lodge caretaker, i think. the ridgerunners stay on the AT.
Thats my friend Doug at the Lodge. A ranger usually stays up there on weekends when the lodge is open.

Mike
03-04-2010, 15:07
Per the park website:

"Advance reservations are required to camp at the following sites:
ē All shelters
ē Backcountry Campsites 9, 10, 13, 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 29, 36, 37, 38, 46, 47, 50, 55, 57, 60, 61, 71, 83, 86, 90, 113

Reservations for backcountry campsites may be obtained only by calling the phone number listed above. They are not available on the Internet or through email."

The only way you can sleep outside the shelter when it's full is if you are registered at one end of the park as a thru hiker. In that case, yes you can just walk up and fill out a form. Everybody else has to call that number.

Also, sometimes the backcountry reservation number (865-436-1231) is left off the hook for extended periods of time. Sometimes for weeks.

If that is the case, you can also call the backcountry information number (865-436-1297). It is staffed by volunteers and generally gets answered all the time during normal business hours.

Reservations cannot be made until one month before your trip. Generally they will ask about your route and let you know of trail & campsite closings, as well as trail conditions that might affect your trip. All around, I have no complaints about the reservation system.

Overcrowded campsites and shelters suck. This is just one way to try and avoid those problems. But any time rain hits, it seems like people change their itineraries for miles around just so they can pack into a shelter. 20+ in a shelter built for 12 is ridiculous.

bfitz
03-04-2010, 15:10
Bring your tent but don't bring your ID. If any tries to write you a ticket say your name is Barney Fife.

Cookerhiker
03-04-2010, 15:20
Last October, we had permits and reservations for 2 backcountry campsites in the Mt. Sterling area. The second night, we changed our mind and headed for Laurel Gap Shelter, a non-AT shelter. Don't know if it was "full" via reservations but there was plenty of room.

I don't like breaking the rules but I don't think any harm was done. If the shelter had been full, we were prepared to move on.

Rockhound
03-04-2010, 15:34
Bring your tent but don't bring your ID. If any tries to write you a ticket say your name is Barney Fife.
Too obvious. I'd go with something more discrete like ***** *******.

bfitz
03-04-2010, 15:35
I'm sure you're not breaking any rules if you stay in a shelter that's not full. And anyone who refuses you a spot in a shelter that's not full, or refuses to squeeze a few more folks in a full shelter during bad weather is just a jerk.

bfitz
03-04-2010, 15:38
Too obvious. I'd go with something more discrete like ***** *******.
Right, like they don't have that one on a list...

Chaco Taco
03-05-2010, 21:58
^that sort of ****e makes me laugh and shake my head at the same time.. do they actually stay there all night and patrol the shelters to make sure no matter how empty it stayed that yall didn't sleep in it because yall didnt reserve them?

The ridgerunners do yes. They basically go out for days at a time and monitor the shelters and maintain the trail.

Chaco Taco
03-05-2010, 22:03
Clarification on a couple of things....

In GSMNP, when a shelter is full, it is permitted to camp within sight of the shelter; usually 50-100 yards. There are flat areas that can be used that are away from the privy area and water sources at almost all of the shelters.

.

I was told by 2 ridgerunners and a park ranger an that this only applied to thruhikers.

There is only one thing to do. Get a backcountry permit at on Fontana or whereever and guess where you will stay and fill it in. Write Thruhiker on the permit. You can just tell them you started at Stecoah Gap. Problem solved. Get to the shelter and when it is full, pitch your tent. I have done it a few times with a ridgerunner right there and had no problem.

Chaco Taco
03-05-2010, 22:04
I was told by 2 ridgerunners and a park ranger an that this only applied to thruhikers.

There is only one thing to do. Get a backcountry permit at on Fontana or whereever and guess where you will stay and fill it in. Write Thruhiker on the permit. You can just tell them you started at Stecoah Gap. Problem solved. Get to the shelter and when it is full, pitch your tent. I have done it a few times with a ridgerunner right there and had no problem.

My bad, tell em you started at Dick's Gap, so you meet the criteria of a thru

Cookerhiker
03-05-2010, 22:45
My bad, tell em you started at Dick's Gap, so you meet the criteria of a thru

Or if you're hiking SOBO, the 50-mile point from the north is Allen Gap (Hot Springs is less than 50 miles).

Powder River
03-06-2010, 02:46
Bring your tent but don't bring your ID. If any tries to write you a ticket say your name is Barney Fife.


I have a friend, who shall remain nameless who filled out "Grandma Gatewood" on an AMC form. Worked like a charm.

neo
03-06-2010, 09:21
I called a couple days ago to get reservations for 1 of the shelters for next week and it is full. It's only a 1 night trip and with the weather we have been experiencing I don't expect people to actually show up. What if we just show up fully prepared to hike back out and car camp if the shelter actually fills up? Has anyone done this?



i dont stay at shelters anymore,i carry a hammock any large silnylon tarp.with my tarp and hammock combo i can sit and eat and cook comfortablt in the rain
:cool:neo

nitewalker
03-06-2010, 09:42
Or if you're hiking SOBO, the 50-mile point from the north is Allen Gap (Hot Springs is less than 50 miles).

this is one way around reserving shelter space. i was told by a ranger to do the 50 mile north or south of the park and use this method as if i was a thruhiker. just make sure you fill out your permit correctly.:eek::eek: " you did what":eek::eek::D:D shhhh dont tell anyone!!!!!;)

Dyadya Tim
03-06-2010, 10:25
The GSMNP is in fact not only the most visited NP, but it is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world. It is a challenge to say the least to protect and maintain this diversity. With about 900 miles of trails running throughout the park it is a task that very few people understand. The rules and regulations help to maintain not only the beauty of the park, but also to help keep those that visit the park safe. While most thru-hikers adhere to "Leave No Trace" ethics, many more people who visit the park do not. Maybe, since I live so close to the park that I feel more attached to it, but I would rather know that all is being done to protect and maintain it so that everyone who comes can enjoy all that the GSMNP has to offer. If you feel so inclined to "diss" the park for the rules or feel that stealth camping is a better option, then do all of us a favor and don't go. Just remember that in such a delicate place it only takes one person to trample out the last of a species. So here in the Smokies its not just about what you want, its about perservation and keeping a diverse area diverse for many more generations.

bfitz
03-07-2010, 10:19
The GSMNP is in fact not only the most visited NP, but it is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world. It is a challenge to say the least to protect and maintain this diversity. With about 900 miles of trails running throughout the park it is a task that very few people understand. The rules and regulations help to maintain not only the beauty of the park, but also to help keep those that visit the park safe. While most thru-hikers adhere to "Leave No Trace" ethics, many more people who visit the park do not. Maybe, since I live so close to the park that I feel more attached to it, but I would rather know that all is being done to protect and maintain it so that everyone who comes can enjoy all that the GSMNP has to offer. If you feel so inclined to "diss" the park for the rules or feel that stealth camping is a better option, then do all of us a favor and don't go. Just remember that in such a delicate place it only takes one person to trample out the last of a species. So here in the Smokies its not just about what you want, its about perservation and keeping a diverse area diverse for many more generations.
Well put, and I am respectful of the concept of preservation. I think more people would be respectful of the ridgerunners if stuff like what powder river describes below didn't happen....

The Smokies shelter reservation system is a joke. The "ridgerunner" and his trainee took up 2 spots normally used by thru hikers when I was there, and was a jerk about it. He kicked the rest of us out of an otherwise empty shelter, because it was "full." The reserved people never showed of course. Just be sure you have a tent and do whatever you want. What are they going to do, write you a parking ticket?
I have no problem whatsoever with anyone (especially me) ignoring a stupid, unreasonable, or unjust rule, law, or law enforcement "official"...

moldy
03-07-2010, 10:58
I'm with you about just going and hope the shelter is full. Just in case you are worried about getting trouble with the trail cops pretend you are a thru-hiker. If the shelter is full, camp near the shelter. If Ranger Bill shows up and asks for your reservation number...tell him you are a thru-hiker(they don't need reservation numbers). If you are still worried....have one member of your group snag a blank backcountry pass at the park entrance.
Later on after you have left the Ranger station fill it out like you are a thru-hiker. you entered 4 days ago at Fontana and will depart 3 days from now at the North end of the Park. List everyone's name and no shelters, throw away the white copy and just keep the pink. He will have no easy way to check out your story. Most NOBO Thru-hikers get a Backcountry permit out of a unmanned box at Fontana dam, they keep one copy and put the other in the box. Every time I have been through the box is full...meaning that it's collected long after you are out of the park. They also give poor directions on how to fill out the permit so everyone does it different.

Powder River
03-08-2010, 02:13
The GSMNP is in fact not only the most visited NP, but it is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world. It is a challenge to say the least to protect and maintain this diversity. With about 900 miles of trails running throughout the park it is a task that very few people understand. The rules and regulations help to maintain not only the beauty of the park, but also to help keep those that visit the park safe. While most thru-hikers adhere to "Leave No Trace" ethics, many more people who visit the park do not. Maybe, since I live so close to the park that I feel more attached to it, but I would rather know that all is being done to protect and maintain it so that everyone who comes can enjoy all that the GSMNP has to offer. If you feel so inclined to "diss" the park for the rules or feel that stealth camping is a better option, then do all of us a favor and don't go. Just remember that in such a delicate place it only takes one person to trample out the last of a species. So here in the Smokies its not just about what you want, its about perservation and keeping a diverse area diverse for many more generations.

I fully appreciate the goal of preserving the fauna in the park, but that is really a whole separate issue from the shelter reservation system. After all, every shelter is a man-made structure with a fire ring, numerous tent sites, packed dirt in high traffic areas and the famous poo fields nearby, since they refuse to build privies. None of these sites are pristine and yet they are a necessary part of having overnight hikers use the trail. (except the poo fields- that would be easy to fix) Whether you tent or not at a shelter hardly makes any difference to the other 99% of the park that is not trampled down already.

So now that they've built the shelters, why all the fuss? The problem with all of this micromanagement of who sleeps where is its just a broken concept. There is absolutely no way to enforce it, and yet they spend all their time worrying about it, to the point that its actually a detriment on most people's experience there. I have no respect for a rule that is inherently impossible to enforce, and creates more problems than it solves.

What I would suggest to them is this:

1. Require every hiker, whether thru hiker or section hiker to have a backcountry pass.
2. If they absolutely have to limit the number of people on the trail, then limit the number of passes that are granted per each entry point per day for section hikers. Thru hikers would be exempt because there is no way to control the numbers of thru hikers or deny them access. Section hikers (using the same current definitions of thru vs. section hiker) would need to apply online to get a pass. If there are none available, then they could check other entry points to see if there are any available. Those that are smart enough could just grab a thru hiker pass at Fontana Dam. This would be a loophole that some would find, but the masses would still obey the web page thus limiting the number of hikers.
3. Your backcountry pass is good for as long as you want to stay in the park, with no schedules. Simple. Because there are new people entering the park each day, the group that entered the day before would be (wait for it..) a day's hike ahead. Obviously not everybody hikes at the same speed, but with all the fluxuations of hiking speed, NOBOS and SOBOS and thru hikers, things are bound to vary. Some would go fast and some slow. It all works itself out.
4. Sleep wherever you want, as long as it is within sight of a shelter. Obviously leave no trace rules would apply, and encourage people to use previously used tent sites. Want to use the shelter? Great. Want to tent? Fine. The world will not end. Ridgerunners can go back to doing what ridgerunners are supposed to be doing.
5. Build privies and more tent sites. Lets face it tramping into a field that is filled with little toilet paper flowers is not exactly the best way to protect a fragile ecosystem. Build the privies already. Make them handicap accessible if you want. More (and better defined) tent sites will ensure that nobody pitches on a fragile wildflower on accident.

Now am I the only one who wonders if this wouldn't be a whole lot easier, while still protecting the park? The more I think about it I wonder if the reservation system doesn't exist because they want a way for yuppie hut-to-hut types (ie the Whites) to hike without a tent. After all, we are talking about the uninitiated millions of Walmart tent owners who have never been in the woods before, drawn to the Smokies from nearby Gatlinburg or some brochure in Travel magazine. Having a reservation at a shelter means you can leave the 12lb tent at home and still experience the great outdoors the way Uncle Sam intended. If they reverted to a first come, first serve system this would make hiking that much less attractive to those people. :-?

MuleDeer
06-21-2010, 16:20
From a previous reply, I ninja camp in the smokies a good bit. I refuse to set up next to some fat dude with a boom box blasting linkin park all night. besides, theres no way they could ever see my big orange Hoodoo 3 tent.

Slo-go'en
06-21-2010, 16:56
One problem with the reservation system is some people make reservations well in advance and then don't show up for some reason. Of course, they don't cancel thier reservation. This happens a lot if the weather turns out to be bad, and I imagine is more of a problem in the spring and fall then durring the hight of summer.

I found this out when I started my ill fated trip a month or so ago. I got to the park and tried to make reservations for the next couple of days. I was told Ice water spring shelter was full and there was just one slot left open for Pecks corner and Cosby Knob. Turns out it rained the next day and Ice water springs was nearly empty and Peck Corner was only half full. Same with Cosby Knob the next day.

TIDE-HSV
06-26-2010, 10:06
I climbed Mt. LeConte, stayed in the lodge, in May of 1972, the month before the reservation system went into effect. At the time, there was a large open area between the lodge and the shelter, which is now grown in. I have no way of estimating how many tents/hikers were crowded into that area. The tents were so close together that many were sharing stakes, and there seemed to be a fire in front of each tent, with a smoke plume going up. This had become the normal situation for all the popular spots in the Park. That's what led to the permit system. And, for the record, I've seen tickets given for being both in the wrong shelter and the wrong campsite. OTOH, when about 20 of us had to crowd into Derrick Knob on New Year's Day of 1974, because of an ice storm, the ranger looked in, told us good luck and left. As we talked, we discovered that none of us were registered for Derrick. We were permitted for Spence...

TallShark
07-14-2010, 16:57
Ok, somebody please help me understand what my approach should be if I wanted to tent/stealth camp in the backcountry along the AT ignoring the whole shelter situation all together. Would I just need a backcountry permit, a good discrete location, and a respect for the grounds of the park?... Stealth camping seems to be the way to go so long as you are an intelligent human being and have knowledge and respect for the area around you. Suggestions or opinions?

TIDE-HSV
07-14-2010, 17:04
Ok, somebody please help me understand what my approach should be if I wanted to tent/stealth camp in the backcountry along the AT ignoring the whole shelter situation all together. Would I just need a backcountry permit, a good discrete location, and a respect for the grounds of the park?... Stealth camping seems to be the way to go so long as you are an intelligent human being and have knowledge and respect for the area around you. Suggestions or opinions?

I can't recommend it, other than the suggestions that you validate yourself as a thru and stealth when the shelters are, in fact, full. The fine is severe, if you get caught. Most of the shelters are placed at the rare areas where you really have enough room to camp. There's just not that much suitable terrain around to hide. I suppose hammockers could drop further over the edge and find a couple of trees, but, at most places, it's just not possible to find a place to fit a tent out of sight.

TallShark
07-14-2010, 17:17
I can't recommend it, other than the suggestions that you validate yourself as a thru and stealth when the shelters are, in fact, full. The fine is severe, if you get caught. Most of the shelters are placed at the rare areas where you really have enough room to camp. There's just not that much suitable terrain around to hide. I suppose hammockers could drop further over the edge and find a couple of trees, but, at most places, it's just not possible to find a place to fit a tent out of sight.

^
Thank you for your quick response... my other question would be why are we forced to stay in the shelter and we canít, by choice, stay around the shelter (out of the way and not on the trail) if we wanted. My understanding is that camping in tents around the shelter isnít permitted unless the shelter is full and you are a thru hiker(?)... maybe I just need to do a little more forum searching. All I want to do is stay in my tent, if itís at the shelter thatís fine, but why do they have a problem with it. Is there any way I could just waltz up to the shelter area and just set up camp outside?

TIDE-HSV
07-14-2010, 17:32
You should know better than to ask "why" when government agencies are involved. :) Seriously, the idea is limit impact and to confine impact to small areas - either designated campsites or shelters. Your one tent wouldn't be that big a deal. What if all 14 occupants decided to do the same - empty shelter and 14 tents surrounding the shelter?

I've told this story before, but I visited LeConte one month before rationing was instituted in May, 1972. There used to be a broad treeless area in the saddle between the lodge and the shelter. It's grown in now. However, the shelter was full and, if there were one tent, there were scores in that area so close together that they had to share stakes. You couldn't even count the number of campfire plumes. That type nightmare in all the popular sites led to the present system

TallShark
07-14-2010, 19:07
I understand the argument from a conservation standpoint... these regulations are put into place for a solid reason. If only we were all educated enough that we didnít need someone telling us how to do it... And thank you for your clarification, you answered all of my questions.

neo
09-02-2010, 08:06
I've been to Mammoth Cave a couple of times, but wasn't really into hiking back then and didn't realize there was such a trail system there. I'll definitely have to check that out. Thanks.

Will look into Otter Creek Park as well.


mammoth cave national park is a great place to backpack:cool:neo