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P-Train
03-03-2012, 09:49
Couldn't find my answer in any threads....

On my section hike in the GSMNP - I will have made a reservation for about six shelters to stay in.
What if when I get there they happen to be full and I didn't bring a tent?

A.) I should bring a light tent anyway just in case

B.) Squeeze in somehow

Rocket Jones
03-03-2012, 09:50
Always carry your own shelter, just in case.

Lone Wolf
03-03-2012, 09:53
Couldn't find my answer in any threads....

On my section hike in the GSMNP - I will have made a reservation for about six shelters to stay in.
What if when I get there they happen to be full and I didn't bring a tent?

A.) I should bring a light tent anyway just in case

B.) Squeeze in somehow
always carry shelter. but if it's full ask one of the thru-hikers to give up the space. they're suppose to

P-Train
03-03-2012, 09:59
So in general it's fine to pitch at the shelter when full? Probably just off to the side on a flat area where I can find one.

Thanks.

max patch
03-03-2012, 10:03
Yes, but if you prefer the shelter make your preference known and whoever if there without a reservation (prob a thru hiker) needs to leave. And yes, always carry a tent.

Hooch
03-03-2012, 10:07
So in general it's fine to pitch at the shelter when full? For section hikers, no. If you have a reservation, you're supposed to use the shelter itself. Thru hikers (those whose hikes begin>/= 50 miles before the park entrance and ends >/= 50 miles after the park) may only tent if the shelter is full.

Lone Wolf
03-03-2012, 10:09
i wouldn't worry too much about rangers messin' with you. they don't hike and won't be at shelters. i would just tent

Wise Old Owl
03-03-2012, 10:13
Hell get someone to make you a Cuben Fiber Tarp... And a Bug net. Why would you want to give up Freedom from Snoring, Midnight belching, 3 AM Piss Runs, And of course-Methane Funky Blowouts....

Don't forget the guy with the Ukelele or Air Guitar that can't play...:cool::rolleyes:

Remember your ear plugs....

P-Train
03-03-2012, 10:16
Hell get someone to make you a Cuben Fiber Tarp... And a Bug net. Why would you want to give up Freedom from Snoring, Midnight belching, 3 AM Piss Runs, And of course-Methane Funky Blowouts....

Don't forget the guy with the Ukelele or Air Guitar that can't play...:cool::rolleyes:

Remember your ear plugs....

Awesome. Thanks.

coach lou
03-03-2012, 10:24
Never being down there...do I understand that in GSMNP you cannot stealth hang, tarp, or cowboy 200 feet off and out of site of the AT??? I'm sure this is another multiple page thread itself.

Whack-a-mole
03-03-2012, 11:35
We were just north of Clingmans Dome a couple years ago, and the shelter was slam full, plus a couple through hikers. There was a ridge runner staying the night, and he absolutely forbid anyone to set up tents. The through hikers asked about cowboying it, and the RR didn't care so that's what they did. After about 2am I would have given anything to have been with them. It was a double decker shelter, and everytime someone rolled over or moved or anything you got woke up. Nothing like spooning with 14 people you don't know. Wise Old Owl is right. Shelters are cool, but not all the time.

Rain Man
03-04-2012, 02:17
Never being down there...do I understand that in GSMNP you cannot stealth hang, tarp, or cowboy 200 feet off and out of site of the AT??? I'm sure this is another multiple page thread itself.

Right you are. Though in spite of the express terms of the WhiteBlaze User Agreement, you will find folks advocating illegal acts, such as Lone Wolf's post. My understanding is that you need a "back country permit" to camp anywhere other than in shelters in the GSMNP. You might be confusing the GSMNP and the Shenandoan National Park rules about camping 200' away from the trail? My advice is go to "the horse's mouth" and ask the ranger office if you want to know the intricacies of such rules.

Rain:sunMan

.

coach lou
03-04-2012, 07:31
Right you are. Though in spite of the express terms of the WhiteBlaze User Agreement, you will find folks advocating illegal acts, such as Lone Wolf's post. My understanding is that you need a "back country permit" to camp anywhere other than in shelters in the GSMNP. You might be confusing the GSMNP and the Shenandoan National Park rules about camping 200' away from the trail? My advice is go to "the horse's mouth" and ask the ranger office if you want to know the intricacies of such rules.

Rain:sunMan

.

Thanks Rain Man. Not this summer, maybe next. I've always steered away from there because of the amount of visitors it gets, but all these wonderful pictures and tales of adventure from this web site will
get me and the Mrs. down there soon enough.

Slo-go'en
03-04-2012, 10:38
Go when there is a forcast for rain. Half of those with reservations made months in advance will not show up, and since they never bother to cancel, frees up a lot of space.

Wise Old Owl
03-04-2012, 11:10
Never being down there...do I understand that in GSMNP you cannot stealth hang, tarp, or cowboy 200 feet off and out of site of the AT??? I'm sure this is another multiple page thread itself.


It Is..... We can't discuss Steath Hangs - its a dirty word.


Intersesting above Post Slo-Go'en

burger
03-04-2012, 11:17
FYI, because tenting isn't allowed at GSMNP shelters, you're not going to find nice tent sites around the shelters like you do at other AT shelters. I never did have to tent at any shelters in the park. But at one shelter that was starting to get full in the evening, we scouted for tent sites just in case. We ended up deciding that we would just sleep on the ground in the big open area in front of the sleeping platforms instead of tenting. That area looked nicer than anything around the shelter.

Hoofit
03-04-2012, 11:59
It Is..... We can't discuss Steath Hangs - its a dirty word.


Intersesting above Post Slo-Go'en


Seems to depend on the Ranger -
I and several others were not permitted to camp in the Smokies until the shelter was full - and yet I also couldn't guarantee a spot in the shelter as I was thru -hiker and half of the 'reserved' spots had not shown up , by mid-afternoon.
There was a ranger there and he was fine with hammock hangers, understandably because there was much less ground disturbance, but to a tired hiker who just wanted to lay his bag down and find a spot to rest up for the day,either inside or out, it was truly a pain in the backside....
And then to top it off, he didn't want anyone to use the fireplace...due to the collection of firewood setting a bad example for the few that might go overboard and damage the living trees.
Those reservists never did show up by nightfall so we stayed in the shelter - perhaps they're should be an earlier cut-off time for the 'reservists' to show up by.

Danl
03-04-2012, 13:58
This came out of the "Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Companion Book." The way I read it is thru-hikers , between Mar 15 and Jun 15 are not required to make reservations for shelters and if the shelter is full they can tent camp at or near the shelter but must use the bear cables.. I could not find this on their website anywhere so I sent them an e-mail for clarification.


"SHELTER POLICY- Park regulations require that you stay in a shelter. While other backpackers must make reservations to use backcountry shelters, thru-hikers are exempt from this regulation, and, from Mar 15 to Jun 15, four spaces at each A.T. shelter are reserved for thru-hikers. If the shelter is occupied by reservation and four thru-hikers, however, additional thru-hikers should tent close by and use the bear cables. Because only thru-hikers are permitted to tent camp at shelters, the burden is on them to make room inside shelters for others who have reserved space."

Ferrousknight
03-12-2012, 12:09
You can fit more people than the stated capacity in the GSMNP shelters, easily. There used to be wooden slats dividing the individual spaces, but they've been removed. Some of the REI guides in the area are known to be real jackasses to thru-hikers. Politely ask the group if they can shuffle over a bit and tell the guide to call a ranger if they care so much. They have no authority whatsoever to kick anyone out of the shelter.

lemon b
03-12-2012, 13:34
I always carry a tent, only do shelters in bad weather, and will always give up a spot for anyone going further then I. Not rules just the manners I was taught.

jduncan7998
03-17-2012, 07:05
The best time to hike through the GSMNP is in December!! You will have the trail basically to yourself. The shelters will be empty, unless they are booked by invisible people. lol. This December I hiked from Fontana Dam to NewFound Gap and saw a total of about 10 people. I stayed in Mollies Ridge, Derrek Knob, and Mt. Collins. Those 3 shelters were empty, along with the Fontana Dam shelter. Whats strange is that when i made my reservations, i was told that Derrek Knob was full. When we arrived at Derrek Knob at 930pm, no one was there and i wasn't about to continue on to silers bald shelter that i had reservations for. All in all, it was a great hike. I can't wait to return from Afghanistan and hike some more.

Jeff
03-17-2012, 09:40
I always carry a tent, only do shelters in bad weather, and will always give up a spot for anyone going further then I. Not rules just the manners I was taught.

I don't understand why long distance hikers should get more respect than others.

jeffmeh
03-17-2012, 12:07
I don't understand why long distance hikers should get more respect than others.

They shouldn't, but they shouldn't get any less either.

Sailing_Faith
03-17-2012, 12:16
The best time to hike through the GSMNP is in December!! You will have the trail basically to yourself. The shelters will be empty, unless they are booked by invisible people......

Your post is insensitive. Invisible people are still people! They deserve our respect... they DID make reservations after all.

If one comes upon a shelter filled with invisible people they should either keep going and hike through the night, or should sleep just outside the shelter standing up.

This is of course tempered by the fact that invisible people are hard to see, but ignorance of their presence is really not an excuse to be rude....

P-Train
03-17-2012, 23:10
Wow. I wouldn't wish December there on anyone. It snowed six times in the valley last year not to mention the higher elevations. You'd find yourself without a trail in no time.

jduncan7998
03-18-2012, 08:12
i was only stating a fact that if you want to hike the smnp without the crowds, then the off-season is the best time. I was not being insensitive, i was actually expecting the shelter to be full and was prepared to tent next to the shelter or continue on to the next shelter. I wasn't being rude either. I'll just say that a prayer was answered when i came upon the shelter and it was empty.

P-Train
03-18-2012, 10:30
i was only stating a fact that if you want to hike the smnp without the crowds, then the off-season is the best time. I was not being insensitive, i was actually expecting the shelter to be full and was prepared to tent next to the shelter or continue on to the next shelter. I wasn't being rude either. I'll just say that a prayer was answered when i came upon the shelter and it was empty.

This past year was mild, actually. It was the year before that snowed so much.

ekeverette
03-18-2012, 11:45
i take it, should you come to a shelter in the gsmnp and it is completly full, you have no choice but to tent. is this correct?

Grampie
03-18-2012, 12:20
If you are a thru-hiker and the shelter is full you can put up your tent neer the shelter. I never heard of being bothered by a rige runner or park ranger for doing so.

carolinablonde
03-23-2012, 09:49
I'm a section hiker, and this year I'm picking up at Winding Stair Gap (which I think is 50ish miles before the Smokies, so I'll be a "thru" hiker by their definition for purposes of camping) and ending at Davenport Gap. Here's the thing. I'm not afraid of bears, snakes, scary men, spiders, big foot, etc. But I have a rodent phobia. A completely irrational fear and I literally cannot sleep in a shelter out of fear of mice. This is not something I can suck up and get over. I'm really worried about hiking through the Smokies because I cannot stomach the thought of sleeping in a shelter. I'm hoping the shelters will be full and/or it won't be an issue, but this thread is freaking me out. Is there really going to be a ranger there telling me I have to sleep with mice chewing on my hair? Even cowboy camping close to a shelter freaks me out. I need to zip up in my tent.

DaSchwartz
03-25-2012, 22:26
But I have a rodent phobia. A completely irrational fear and I literally cannot sleep in a shelter out of fear of mice.(deletia) Is there really going to be a ranger there telling me I have to sleep with mice chewing on my hair? Even cowboy camping close to a shelter freaks me out. I need to zip up in my tent. Here's the problem. The rules are there for good reasons and if enough hikers stop following the rules, they will add more restrictions to thru-hikers as a result. Sorry about your phobia, so you'll probably want to do an alternative like the Benton MacKaye Trail, where you can camp with just a backcountry permit & none of the shelter worries. The BMT should be considered an official alternative to the AT when it comes to being counted as a thru-hike.

vamelungeon
03-25-2012, 22:30
The BMT should be considered an official alternative to the AT when it comes to being counted as a thru-hike.
I wish it were. I have zero desire to sleep in a dirty rodent filled box in the middle of a beautiful forest. I really don't want to be forced into one in the Smokies but as things stand now I would have to, or risk getting caught trying to stealth camp.

beaudetious
03-26-2012, 12:57
I have a rodent phobia. A completely irrational fear and I literally cannot sleep in a shelter out of fear of mice.

I too share a fear of mice. It started when I had a shelter to myself and the mice used me a trampoline and my hiking shorts (hanging on a line) as a nest.

On a recent 3 day section hike of the Northern end of the Smokies I slept in a shelter (well zippered in my sleeping bag and had no mouse issues) and the other night I hammocked next to the shelter but only set up at night. The shelter wasn't even close to full.

I need to get over this mouse issue sooner than later if I am to ever thru hike the AT. Maybe having one as pet would help.

mcrainbow
03-26-2012, 15:21
I'm a section hiker, and this year I'm picking up at Winding Stair Gap (which I think is 50ish miles before the Smokies, so I'll be a "thru" hiker by their definition for purposes of camping) and ending at Davenport Gap..

You are not considered a thru hiker....50 miles end/start outside the Park border.

RichardD
03-26-2012, 23:10
It was my desire during my thru to hammock near the shelters in GSMNP. A ridge runner was present at the first, he was very clear and insistent, if you were one of the first four thru hikers at the shelter then your place in it was secure. If you were #5 up and the shelter was not full you were required to stay in it. If the folks who had reservations showed up, even late at night you had to make room for them even if it meant setting up a tent late at night. In reality fewer than half of the reserved spaces ever show so the need to leave late at night is very rare but is possible.
I had three nights where I had to stay in shelters, the rest of the time I waited until the shelter was full then hung my hammock nearby. The ridge runner was present overnight three times and he was very insistent that we followed the rules to the letter.

carolinablonde
03-27-2012, 07:08
Seriously contemplating hiking all night with my headlamp and then sleeping in the shelters during the day when the mice aren't out. It's a shame that overly strict rules and regulations on taxpayers at a publicly owned park detract so much from the experience. I'm all for minimal impact on the environment, but restricting the number of people without forcible use of shelters is possible. Can't wait to get this section out of the way and get on to more hospitable parts of the trail.

rocketsocks
03-27-2012, 07:35
Seriously contemplating hiking all night with my headlamp and then sleeping in the shelters during the day when the mice aren't out. It's a shame that overly strict rules and regulations on taxpayers at a publicly owned park detract so much from the experience. I'm all for minimal impact on the environment, but restricting the number of people without forcible use of shelters is possible. Can't wait to get this section out of the way and get on to more hospitable parts of the trail.I think you just gave a textbook definition of ;Bureaucracy;)

jburgasser
03-27-2012, 07:45
I'm a section hiker, and this year I'm picking up at Winding Stair Gap (which I think is 50ish miles before the Smokies, so I'll be a "thru" hiker by their definition for purposes of camping) and ending at Davenport Gap.


Unfortunately, your hike must include at least 50 miles north of Davenport Gap as well as 50 miles south of Fontana Dam to classify you as a thru hiker.

jburgasser
03-27-2012, 07:51
Seriously contemplating hiking all night with my headlamp and then sleeping in the shelters during the day when the mice aren't out. It's a shame that overly strict rules and regulations on taxpayers at a publicly owned park detract so much from the experience. I'm all for minimal impact on the environment, but restricting the number of people without forcible use of shelters is possible. Can't wait to get this section out of the way and get on to more hospitable parts of the trail.


It's the most visited park in the country! I support efforts to limit/monitor the number of users/visitors. So many posters advocate bending the rules, or just ignoring them if no one sees you. It is a lot easier to just FOLLOW THE RULES. Here is a radical idea: If you don't agree with the rules, then skip the Smokies!!

Enjoy your hike
JB

PennyPincher
03-27-2012, 07:56
try carrying some fabric softner dryer sheets. I haven't tried it but I was recently told to use these in a garage mice get into. Evidently they don't like the smell? I would cut into strips, place around my sleeping area as possible. Maybe the mice will decide to pester someone else.

WillyStyle
03-27-2012, 11:08
I am very excited. The most visited park in the country! Mice! Ridge Runners (which is a beer up here!). I am going to sleep the heck out of these shelters.
When my hiking partner told me about sleeping in shelters in the GSMNP I ignored her. What ridiculousness. Of course I can sleep in a tent, that is what one does when camping. However, National Parks are pretty great and I am willing to follow their rules if it helps preserve their existence.
7 days to the trail!

mad4scrapping
03-27-2012, 11:32
I went through this same angst last year before my section hike in the GSMNP. We went in April in full thru-hiking season. Most of the shelters were not full. I brought a tent and tented a couple of nights. There were nice tent sites at most of the shelters. There was a ridge runner with us one of the nights and I slept in the shelter that night. However, even though the shelter was not full, several other people, including both thru-hikers and weekenders, tented and he did not say one word to them. My advice is to bring a tent and use it if you want to.

Astro
03-27-2012, 11:50
I do not care for mice either. Earlier this month I section hiked between Fontanna Dam and Newfournd Gap and stayed in shelters all three nights. Perhaps due to the cold weather (teens and twenties most nights) or the burning fire, did not see any mice. So perhaps planning your trip during cooler temperatures may help.

carolinablonde
03-27-2012, 14:42
It is a lot easier to just FOLLOW THE RULES. Here is a radical idea: If you don't agree with the rules, then skip the Smokies!!


I consider myself an environmentalist, but I am not a fan of arbitrary rules, particularly when they prevent enjoyment of public property I pay taxes on. I shouldn't have to skip the Smokies because some bureaucrats who have probably never backpacked in their lives decided I should have to sleep in some shelter because they perceive it to be better for the environment. How is my tent anymore of a threat to the environment because I'm ending at Davenport Gap than if I had an extra couple of days to hike 50 more miles past that? How is my tent anymore of a threat to the environment if there are no people in the shelter it's next to? I'm no rebel, but I have no problem breaking a pointless rule if I can get away with it. Want to protect the environment? Have Ridge runners crack down on nimrods who burn plastics.

DripDry
03-27-2012, 15:27
I section hiked the Smokies last Sept. We made reservations and stayed where we had made them- but virtually every other hiker we met in the park didn't. I am sure the Ridge Runners and Rangers are more vigilant in April and May, but we never saw one anywhere in the Park except the tourist spots. The shelter upgrades have made it easier to live within the rules. Also- mice don't particularly bother me, but we didn't see any. We did run into 11 bears and 2 boars on the trail, and many more running through the woods. Bottom line- the park is worth the hassle- it was an amazing trip. You just may want to pick your season if you are sectioning. Oh, and yes I carried a tarp- always.

TROUT BUM
04-18-2012, 00:31
The shelter life sounds real nice! lol.