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Andrew Smith
03-12-2012, 18:31
I am planning on starting my Thru-hike in the beginning of April and I was wondering if there is any advise as far as avoiding over crowded shelters? Or is if there is ample space around most shelter for the first few weeks to setup tents if they are full, or is this frowned upon?

Stir Fry
03-12-2012, 18:57
All have more then enoush space to set up tents. Expect shelters to be full unless you get into camp early.

SGT Rock
03-12-2012, 19:04
Avoid shelters.

TammyLynn
03-12-2012, 21:47
I was at Hawk Mountain Thurs night, and there were about 30 of us there. Gooch Mountain the next night was around 40. Be sure you have something else to sleep, and that you're not counting on shelter space!

Sent from my Kindle Fire using Tapatalk

Spokes
03-12-2012, 21:56
Starting a thru hike the first of April you will become very familiar with the term "where's the hiker bubble?". It can be a curse or a blessing.

Good luck.

pdcolelli42
03-12-2012, 21:57
I also plan to thru this year, starting the 28th. I wonder when or how far north before the shelters are not crazy full all the time? I'm sure eventually some nights will be totally full still but can I expect the shelters to not be full at some point?

SCRUB HIKER
03-12-2012, 23:47
I remember the shelters being full or close to full up til southern VA, with only a few exceptions (started April 3 NOBO last year). After that, there are a lot of variables that dictate shelter crowdedness, like where the hiker bubbles are, what day of the week it is, how close to the road the shelter is, did the weather just get nice and call hordes of people to the woods, etc.

It's very easy to find camping solitude if that's what you want. My first night, I passed up Hawk Mtn. Shelter because there were going to be about 40 or 50 people at it, and I managed to camp alone on top of Justus Mtn. a few miles later. As long as you have enough water for dinner and breakfast, you can dry camp almost anywhere, especially in the South where the trail is more heavily traveled and there are more existing tentsites that aren't in any of the guidebooks.

There is ample space around many of the shelters, not necessarily all of them, for tenting.

daddytwosticks
03-13-2012, 07:17
Spent this past Saturday night tenting at Plumborchard Gap Shelter area. There were NO thrus there that night. Just me and 5 section hikers. Go figure? It's just hit or miss. The thrus must have been in Hiawassee partying it up Saturday night. :)

Terry7
03-13-2012, 08:58
Why people want to go out into the mountains and then cram themselves into a small room with a bunch of people ?

Spokes
03-13-2012, 09:04
Why people want to go out into the mountains and then cram themselves into a small room with a bunch of people ?

Hmmmm........ Because they're wet, shivering, and too lazy to set up a tent?

fiddlehead
03-13-2012, 09:08
Since the shelters are often near the water supply, I often will stop to cook my evening meal around 5 or 6 and socialize a little, then put the pack back on, carry a litre or two out of there and walk another few miles.
This serves a few purposes:
Get's me camping away from the bears and mice, where it's quiet (all night long) (no smell of food cooking to chum the animals in either)
and not damp (camping near a stream or water source is usually where the dew generates)
I often get to camp at a viewpoint or high up.
Also this is the time of day when you are more apt to see wildlife on the trail.

I usually figure on a half litre of water during the night and a cupful for coffee in the morning and have some left for the first 5 miles or so.

Works for me.
Nobody complains if I have a beer, a smoke, or play my guitar either.

Tinker
03-13-2012, 09:13
Why people want to go out into the mountains and then cram themselves into a small room with a bunch of people ?

Well spoken!

I'll hazard a guess - maybe most of them aren't real comfortable being in the "wilderness" alone, or are more interested in the spirit of adventure than a pursuit of "fellowship with the wilderness" as was spoken of by Benton MacKaye.

Many young folks like to party. Parties are more fun if you're not alone. :D

CrumbSnatcher
03-13-2012, 10:13
most first time AT thruhikers have never hiked before, let alone backpacking. so i would say they are not comfortable being alone in them there hills

SGT Rock
03-13-2012, 10:17
I heard that from a number of people down at Amicalola a couple of weekends back. Some people need the social scene to have fun. Some people need it to just be out there.

The truth is if you don't need it or especially if you don't want it, the AT is probably not where you should be hiking in Spring. The BMT is a much better alternative if you want to skip all the crowds and drama.

Jeff
03-13-2012, 10:38
If you like sleeping in a shelter, it's pretty easy to get a spot if you finishing hiking at 3 or 4PM.

msupple
03-13-2012, 10:52
Avoid shelters.

Always listen to your Sgt! That's my plan Sarge...will be hanging in my Dangerbird. :)

Miguel From HFs

louisb
03-13-2012, 11:26
Parties are more fun if you're not alone.

I drink alone...


--louis

Spokes
03-13-2012, 12:37
There are 3 main personality types (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraversion_and_introversion#Extraversion) and I've observed the traits typically carry over well to thru hikers "shelter" preferences.

Consider this:

Extroverts (Shelter People)- Extraverts tend to enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, and gregarious.

Introverts- (Tent People)- Introverts are likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though they may enjoy interactions with close friends. They are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement.

Ambiverts (Shelter or Tent People)- Ambiverts are normally comfortable with groups and enjoy social interaction, but also relishes time alone and away from the crowd.

SCRUB HIKER
03-13-2012, 14:22
most first time AT thruhikers have never hiked before, let alone backpacking. so i would say they are not comfortable being alone in then there hills

I've read a lot of BS on this forum, but that out-BSes all of them. I met TWO PEOPLE out of hundreds last year who had never backpacked before attempting their thru-hike. This is the type of grumpy-old-man-looking-down-his-nose-at-everyone-else garbage that can make WhiteBlaze so infuriating. The question was "Can I avoid overcrowded shelters and, if so, when?" and this is your answer? Great.

Sly
03-13-2012, 14:39
Regardless of the conditions, except for torrential rain, I found it was just easier to stay in my tent. I could set it up and break it down as fast or faster than staying in shelter, especially if I wasn't the first one up. If you're not the first up in a shelter things become hectic. You also have room to spread your gear if you want and don't have to worry about snoring or snorers, smoking or cigarette smoke, farting or farters. And if you're lucky you have a better chance of getting lucky.

IMO, it's best to hit a shelter, get your water and maybe eat then or move on a mile or so. If you have topo maps you can better recognize where there'll be tenting possibilities. Camping alone, or with a couple others, is so much better than being at a crowded shelter.

Sly
03-13-2012, 14:48
I've read a lot of BS on this forum, but that out-BSes all of them. I met TWO PEOPLE out of hundreds last year who had never backpacked before attempting their thru-hike. This is the type of grumpy-old-man-looking-down-his-nose-at-everyone-else garbage that can make WhiteBlaze so infuriating. The question was "Can I avoid overcrowded shelters and, if so, when?" and this is your answer? Great.

CrumbSnatcher has hiked the AT three times that I'm aware of, so he probably knows what he's talking about. Perhaps you're taking him too literal and he meant most haven't hiked long distances prior to starting the AT, for which I'll agree.

Also, if I'm not mistaken he was responding to this, and not the OP


http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/images/Eloquent/misc/quote_icon.png Originally Posted by Terry7 http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/images/Eloquent/buttons/viewpost-right.png (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?p=1266492#post1266492)

Why people want to go out into the mountains and then cram themselves into a small room with a bunch of people ?



And although he may be grumpy-at-times, I don't think he's an old man, or looks down on anyone.

msupple
03-13-2012, 15:00
I've read a lot of BS on this forum, but that out-BSes all of them. I met TWO PEOPLE out of hundreds last year who had never backpacked before attempting their thru-hike. This is the type of grumpy-old-man-looking-down-his-nose-at-everyone-else garbage that can make WhiteBlaze so infuriating. The question was "Can I avoid overcrowded shelters and, if so, when?" and this is your answer? Great.


According to the book....Long Distance Hiking by Roland Meuser, which is comprised of various trail statistics developed through personal interviews, suveys etc...he claims at least 20% of the people surveyed had not even one night camping under their collective belts. Interestingly enough their initial averages were 10.8 miles per day and after a few weeks was up to 15 mpd....not unlike their more experienced brethren. So...it appears the truth appears somewhere in the middle.

BTW...was it just me or was your response just a tad harsh?

Miguel

Slo-go'en
03-13-2012, 16:03
I started at Springer on April 7th last year and I had to use my tent every night until I was almost to the Smokies. Even after the Smokies I was in my tent more often then not, due to no space in the shelter.

I was for the most part going every other shelter so would show up late and at times even finding space for a tent could be a problem. Everyone else for the most part were going shelter to shelter, so they would fill it up early in the day.

If you want shelter space early in the season, you need to get up and start hiking before everyone else and only go as far as the next shelter. The crowds do start to thin out after Damascus, but then you start to get into camp group, section hiker and weekender season.

CrumbSnatcher
03-13-2012, 16:31
I've read a lot of BS on this forum, but that out-BSes all of them. I met TWO PEOPLE out of hundreds last year who had never backpacked before attempting their thru-hike. This is the type of grumpy-old-man-looking-down-his-nose-at-everyone-else garbage that can make WhiteBlaze so infuriating. The question was "Can I avoid overcrowded shelters and, if so, when?" and this is your answer? Great.first off, how do you meet HUNDREDS of thruhikers on a thruhike. did you set up camp and not hike, if your moving north with everyone else your not going to meet as many as you say! there's many different bubbles of hikers, and secondly i was not looking down my nose at people and talking down to them,i don't like that, and would not do that on purpose! i was a newbie at one time and actually miss it! i try to help out,especially the dog hikers! if i came off the wrong way i apoligize. in the beginning all the hikers are going to be up front & honest and everyone sitting around the campfire very talkative saying im new to this and a little nervous, later on everyone's an expect(usually by franklin) and i highly doubt they would even talk about not ever hiking before. i personally never hiked a lick before attempting a thruhike. i still stand by my statement most first time AT thruhikers never hiked/backpacked before! i too stayed near the shelter quite often for comfort and companionship. your the one with your facts wrong!

Pony
03-13-2012, 17:19
first off, how do you meet HUNDREDS of thruhikers on a thruhike. did you set up camp and not hike, if your moving north with everyone else your not going to meet as many as you say! there's many different bubbles of hikers, and secondly i was not looking down my nose at people and talking down to them,i don't like that, and would not do that on purpose! i was a newbie at one time and actually miss it! i try to help out,especially the dog hikers! if i came off the wrong way i apoligize. in the beginning all the hikers are going to be up front & honest and everyone sitting around the campfire very talkative saying im new to this and a little nervous, later on everyone's an expect(usually by franklin) and i highly doubt they would even talk about not ever hiking before. i personally never hiked a lick before attempting a thruhike. i still stand by my statement most first time AT thruhikers never hiked/backpacked before! i too stayed near the shelter quite often for comfort and companionship. your the one with your facts wrong!

That's what I would have said, especially the part about people becoming experts by Franklin.:)

I left Damascus heading nobo in 2010 and for a few weeks didn't have much company at the shelters. Even had many to myself. I started to want to talk to more people til the pack caught up with me. By the time I was in New Hampshire, I was sick of seeing so many people. I think the longer you spend on trail, the more comfortable you become with yourself.

Hoofit
03-13-2012, 17:26
A lot of people rant and rave on this website -forgive them - they just are pent up and have a strong desire to get out there and back on the trail,like me.
I found the trails to be busy all the way into Virginia and the shelters likewise. A shelter can give you the chance to an early start, you just gotta like mice....HeHe

32ozgatorade
03-13-2012, 17:47
I havent thru-hiked but I have done a lot of section hiking.. Shenandoah National Park can be a &^*^ depending when you hit it.. In late June of 2008 I was doing a section of the AT through VA.. I was heading southbound and hit SNP.. According to the Ridge Runner there were about 50 hikers with in 2 days of each other trying to get to Harpers Ferry by July 4.. On top of that there were thunderstorms for 3 or 4 days straight in the afternoon... The shelters where jammed... I wish I could have gotten a picture of the Pass Mountain shelter.. I dont know how we fit that many poeple in...

lowkeywanderer
03-13-2012, 17:48
Fiddlehead!!! i thru'd last year nobo and hiked the last 1/3 or so with diamond dave and heard many great stories!!! -beirburger

SCRUB HIKER
03-13-2012, 18:18
Crumbsnatcher, you make a good point about how most people who hadn't hiked before wouldn't necessarily say it out loud. I confess to not having interviewed the hundreds of people I did meet (I still stand by that number) on whether they'd hiked before ... there are probably others who had never been in the woods before, I only knew for sure about two of them.

I don't know why I got so mad about your first post. I still think it ignores the OP's question and misrepresents thru-hikers as a whole, but it's not worth starting a flame war about (which I almost did). I got off on the wrong foot there. I apologize, we'll agree to disagree, and hopefully the thread can move on ...

- Scrub

pdcolelli42
03-13-2012, 19:42
Well, the reason I was most curious is because I plan to use a poncho tarp. So in the event of heavy rain I may need to get in a shelter. Not necessarily to sleep but at least to avoid the rain. I'd also like to add that I've done a few solo sections and camped alone in and out of shelters plenty.

Does sleeping with bears in the vacinity count as being alone?

Slo-go'en
03-13-2012, 20:47
Well, the reason I was most curious is because I plan to use a poncho tarp.

In the event of heavy rain, everyone wants to be in a shelter, so better hope your one of the ones to get there early.

By the time you get to Neels Gap, your gonna be wanting a real tent. Might as well get one now while you have a choice of what to buy.

mountain squid
03-13-2012, 21:02
Well, there's one shelter that won't be overcrowded this year - Apple House . . . and that's because it isn't there anymore.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)
some observations (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?14493-observations-from-fs42-(advice-for-first-week-on-trail))

pdcolelli42
03-13-2012, 21:34
By the time you get to Neels Gap, your gonna be wanting a real tent.

Really, because I don't think so but what do I know about my own wants/needs. Before poncho tarping I used a gossamer gear spinntwinn tarp and it was more than adequate in rain.

Now, that being said I am a tad inexperienced with the poncho tarp. I've decided to add a bivy into the mix to overcome this. An additional detail is that I made a MYOG bathtub floor with door out of polycro for when it really rains. I've been under the poncho in rain before and had it pitched pretty low to stay dry and it seemed to work well. Sure for some it may be uncomfortable to be under a poncho tarp in the rain, but for me it's uncomfortable to carry a heavy pack. Is it unrealistic to expect that I can at least have standing room in a shelter during heavy rain? I'm willing to sacrifice some things to be so lightweight.

Have you ever used a poncho tarp or even a tarp extensively? Can you maybe offer real advice as to why I won't like it rather than just telling me I wont? I'm open to suggestions but you must at least have used the gear in question before you can suggest anything about it.

Winds
03-13-2012, 21:53
Wait, a couple of you above have confused me.

A great part of MY hike is to enjoy the land, my time, and NOT always be with people especially sleeping. I realize there will be socializing going on, and I look forward to meeting folks. But what I donít want is a slumber party most of the time. I will join in from time-to-time, but wish to plan on being in my tent, content most nights for sure.

I thought I had nailed down a basic plan. For example: If in the GSMNP for 82 miles (?) I am forced to use a shelter if not full Ė my plan is to just make certain I am late.

Forced into a shelter for 82 miles or if I may need a roof some night is one thing. Planning on living from shelter to shelter is not going to be my hike.

Anything wrong with this ideology folks?
- Thanks.

trucker2015
03-13-2012, 22:24
Does sleeping with bears in the vacinity count as being alone?
No bears are grate at conversation,they help clean the dishes,and smell betters then most hikers.

Yes I'm slap happy and should just go to sleep

trucker2015
03-13-2012, 22:28
Blood Mt. shelter is always open if you don't mind sleeping with skunks and not having water.

pdcolelli42
03-13-2012, 22:32
No bears are grate at conversation,they help clean the dishes,and smell betters then most hikers.

Sorry for going off topic here but... I once was hiking in the smokys and I started smelling this very odd smell. It was pretty strong and very unique. All of a sudden the thought popped into my head "could this be a bear near by?" and sure enough a few steps farther up the trail I came across a bear! I've never smelled a bear like I did that day but I'm almost positive the scent was from that bear.

Winds
03-13-2012, 22:33
Sorry for going off topic here but... I once was hiking in the smokys and I started smelling this very odd smell. It was pretty strong and very unique. All of a sudden the thought popped into my head "could this be a bear near by?" and sure enough a few steps farther up the trail I came across a bear! I've never smelled a bear like I did that day but I'm almost positive the scent was from that bear.

You got to know the bear is telling the same story about you. :)

pdcolelli42
03-13-2012, 22:38
Ha ha, lucky for him it was my first day out so I wasn't too too stinky yet but I was in the process of climbing up from fontana dam so I was a tad sweaty. He did shuffle down the tree quite quickly and run away though!

Papa D
03-13-2012, 23:57
Plan on tenting if possible until about Erwin, TN - - the folks that drop out in the first few hundred miles will be weeded-out by then. I like to camp in a shelter occasionally for the social experience (of if I'm just lazy) but it's really hard to get a proper night's sleep in a jamb packed shelter - - sleeping in your tent, tarp, or hammock, should be very comfortable and easy (or you should come up with a sleeping system that is). By and large, there are plenty of tent sites - - especially if you are willing to camel up a bit and carry water a mile or so.

Derek81pci
03-14-2012, 17:12
Since the shelters are often near the water supply, I often will stop to cook my evening meal around 5 or 6 and socialize a little, then put the pack back on, carry a litre or two out of there and walk another few miles.
This serves a few purposes:
Get's me camping away from the bears and mice, where it's quiet (all night long) (no smell of food cooking to chum the animals in either)
and not damp (camping near a stream or water source is usually where the dew generates)
I often get to camp at a viewpoint or high up.
Also this is the time of day when you are more apt to see wildlife on the trail.

I usually figure on a half litre of water during the night and a cupful for coffee in the morning and have some left for the first 5 miles or so.

Works for me.
Nobody complains if I have a beer, a smoke, or play my guitar either.

I would be saddened to know I missed guitar playing while out camping. Always a welcomed treat.

Slo-go'en
03-14-2012, 18:01
Have you ever used a poncho tarp or even a tarp extensively? Can you maybe offer real advice as to why I won't like it rather than just telling me I wont? I'm open to suggestions but you must at least have used the gear in question before you can suggest anything about it.

In my 30+ years of hiking and camping in the woods - and I've spent a LOT of time camping in the woods - I've used every shelter system known to mankind. I always end up going back to a tent. A good tent these days isn't heavy - but it is on the expensive side. Good luck with the poncho, hope it works out for you.

And yes, you will have standing room under the roof of a shelter and with luck, you might be even able to sit down on the edge of the platform. BTW, early morning and late afternoon showers are common. If you wait a bit before getting up or wait until around dusk to set up, you can usually avoid most, if not all, of the rain.

Winds
03-14-2012, 18:15
BTW, early morning and late afternoon showers are common. If you wait a bit before getting up or wait until around dusk to set up, you can usually avoid most, if not all, of the rain.

Interesting point Slo-go'en. I have a huge problem with others overly guiding my hike. But I rather like the idea of finding a natural rhythm (or working with the land, nature, etc.). My thought process for sleeping, protected and as comfortable as I can is based around my tent (systems, etc.). People keep telling me I will gladly/quickly run to better shelter. blah!

pdcolelli42
03-14-2012, 22:20
BTW, early morning and late afternoon showers are common. If you wait a bit before getting up or wait until around dusk to set up, you can usually avoid most, if not all, of the rain.

Thank you Slo-go'en, I actually had been curious of some sort of trend with rain as to what time of day it usually may occur. I'll be sure to keep that tip in mind.

Slo-go'en
03-14-2012, 23:19
Thank you Slo-go'en, I actually had been curious of some sort of trend with rain as to what time of day it usually may occur. I'll be sure to keep that tip in mind.

Another rule of thumb is "the sun always shines at noon" (1 pm EDT). It may not actually shine, but more often than not the rain will let up and the clouds thin around noon time. Typically, 10 AM to 2 PM is a pretty good window for little or no rain. I try to make as many miles as I can in that window. By late afternoon, the sun stops heating the clouds so much and as they cool, the rain picks up until the next lull in the early evening. This is a pretty reliable cycle in the spring.

A couple of years ago I did Virgina in late April into early May and it rained at some point something like 24 days out of 32. If for some reason I had to set up my tent - it ALWAYS rained. Then I came home to NH and it rained every day in June.

pdcolelli42
03-15-2012, 09:35
Thanks again Slo-go'en. This again is the exact thing I have been looking for an answer to. I ought to be able to get the majority of my miles in during that window if necessary. That's crazy that it rained 24/32 days, although I suppose that's probably not too far from the norm. I wonder if this spring will be a particularly wet one being la nina and all. It certainly has been unusually warm although I do expect some more cold weather and most likely a snow. The farmers almanac in past years has been relatively accurate IMO and supposedly there's a cold spell around the 17-20th of april that snow will be likely. I'll hopefully be just leaving the smokys around that time. I don't know how accurate that will be but I don't doubt it will snow some tie in april.

Miami Joe
04-06-2012, 10:04
The first people I ever went backpacking with (I was 16) wanted to pitch a tent INSIDE a shelter. LOL I don't know why this thread made me think of that. Needless to say, I found new hiking buddies. Avoid shelters at all costs.

mad4scrapping
04-06-2012, 11:18
Since the shelters are often near the water supply, I often will stop to cook my evening meal around 5 or 6 and socialize a little, then put the pack back on, carry a litre or two out of there and walk another few miles.
This serves a few purposes:
Get's me camping away from the bears and mice, where it's quiet (all night long) (no smell of food cooking to chum the animals in either)
and not damp (camping near a stream or water source is usually where the dew generates)
I often get to camp at a viewpoint or high up.
Also this is the time of day when you are more apt to see wildlife on the trail.

I usually figure on a half litre of water during the night and a cupful for coffee in the morning and have some left for the first 5 miles or so.

Works for me.
Nobody complains if I have a beer, a smoke, or play my guitar either.

I think this is an excellent idea! Its the best of both worlds, IMHO.

Ktaadn
04-06-2012, 14:18
The first people I ever went backpacking with (I was 16) wanted to pitch a tent INSIDE a shelter. LOL I don't know why this thread made me think of that. Needless to say, I found new hiking buddies. Avoid shelters at all costs.

I do this all the time in the winter. It keeps the snow and ice off of your tent, it is warmer, and you don't have to worry about getting crushed by ice laden trees/branches.

Airman
04-23-2012, 09:05
I prefer the tent over the shelters. You don't have to listen to the snorers and people who talk in their sleep, the mice, people who wake you in the middle of the night, etc.. I do like the fellowship with hikers while at the shelters, but when it is time to go to bed, its the tent. I guess it is nice staying sometimes out at a campsite where few or no one is there, but the shelters do offer a table for cooking and a privy plus some have bear cables. Just the little extra convenience and don't forget about a water source. But everyone needs just to do their own thing. Happy hiking.

Chaco Taco
04-23-2012, 09:50
So many great spots to stop along the trail, esp down south. Take advantage of it because it gets more restrictive once you get into New Hampshire. Sly's advice of just getting water and making your way a few clicks north all produce some sort of sweet campspot. Some of the best spots on the southern AT are within 2 miles of shelters. I like having my own personal space and love tenting. I hate being squeezed into a shelter. Even in the rain. Unless its a monsoon outside when I arrive, Ill avoid shelters.

Del Q
04-23-2012, 20:40
Carry a tent..............could never imagine going out without one, total freedom vs not??