View Full Version : Chance of having to use shelter in SMNP

12-13-2010, 01:31
I will be starting at Springer late March. I will be using my hammock and wonder what the chances would be that I would legally have to use a shelter when I reach SMNP.
I know that if the shelter is full I can camp/hammock in the vicinity of the shelter. I imagine I will be in the midst of many hikers when I get to the park and I imagine I should have no problem waiting for 4 or so thru hikers to fill the shelter thus allowing me to camp. But I don't know, I am guessing.
My quandry: my underquilt is good to about 32 degrees, I could supplement it with my Neo between hammock and quilt or likely better supplement it with a blue mat between hammock and quilt. In the event I have to sleep in the shelter a blue mat is terribly uncomfortable for me, the NEO marginally better but perhaps not warm enough for SMNP in April. I surely do not want to carry both. In fact I might purchase an underquilt rated to 0 deg in which case I would rather carry no pads.
So you see lots of decisions riding upon whether or not I will have to use a shelter.

12-13-2010, 08:14
Richard, just my .02 cents but here goes, First you know the rules of the park, every year this same discussion comes up, so search this site and see what advice others have offered.
Second, by time you get to the park you'll have enough experience to know what does and doesn't work for you.
Third, (and most importantly, IMO) the park is "only" 75 miles or so, maybe 5 days, maybe longer depending on your pace and sights and stops, etc.. Just hike it, enjoy it, do what makes you feel good and what your conscience allows.


12-13-2010, 12:06
When you hike thru the SMNP during thru-hiker season all of the shelters get full early and a lot of folks are forced to tent. I would not be too conserned with putting up your hammock and not having to use a shelter.

Red Hat
12-13-2010, 12:35
funny how you change your mind about stuff... Back in 05, at first I didn't think I would ever want to use a shelter, but by the time I got to the GSMNP in the cold and snow, I was pleased to be able to crawl in and get warm. Then this year, I was glad when the shelters were so full that I "had to" use my hammock outside. So the answer is yes and no... sometimes you "have to" use the shelter, sometimes you want to use the shelter, and sometimes you don't...

Rain Man
12-13-2010, 13:27
I hiked the GSMNP in '05 the same week as Red Hat, as it happens. It was a "spring break" week for schools. As I recall, all the shelters in the south half of the park were full and over-flowing, but only Icewater Springs Shelter in the north half of the park was that way.

I stayed in the shelters and was fine.



12-13-2010, 13:28
I have hiked the smokies 7 times and you can expect to find full shelters in the spring. I would be surprised if you don't run into this at least once, especially if you hit the park on the weekend. Don't even count on room if you have a permit. Half the people don't have permits or they have them for a different day. Do what works for you. Unlikely you run across any rangers while camping and they are pretty fair if you explain why you are not camped in a shelter. Just follow leave no trace policy.

12-13-2010, 14:39
The SMNP shelters were "sardine can full" beyond capacity several miserable nights last year. Nobody complained. Everyone actually appreciated the extra body heat.

12-13-2010, 23:39
Thanks for the replies. It appears that I will likely be fine planning to sleep in my hammock as I hike through the park.
I guess I could easily have my Neo included in the Fontana resupply package then send it home soon after I exit the park. A few extra ounces for a week is not that big a deal. I will make that decision in March.

Sassafras Lass
12-17-2010, 23:16
Also consider you have to use the decidedly not-free shelters in the Whites . . . .