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  1. #1
    Registered User thecyclops's Avatar
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    Default Shelter etiquette question.....I think I got bamboozled :(

    Ill try to condense the story...
    Gooch mountain shelter On Monday,6-01-2015,me and a buddy coming from hawk mountain shelter,tired,wet,etc (yes it rained entire time we were there,LOL) and when we got there,only 3 camping spots were left and all spots AND all of the shelter was taken up by a church youth group.....
    The church group was there almost 2 days,as they actually took a 0 day at the shelter on Monday and had only a 1.4 mile hike out to gooch gap where church van awaited...
    7-15 year olds in woods playing "war",as im at the privy wiping man parts,they are on ridge well within eye shot...
    As I come down from privy,aforementioned kids down in front/behind my shelter and my hiking partners tent,again,playing war....
    Several hikers,while it was raining,were forced on down the trail,because shelter was taken by youth croup...
    3am a HUGE storm came through and we were OK,but to be honest,it would have been nice to wait that out in the biggest shelter on the Georgia section of the AT instead of hunkered under a tarp....
    I though large groups were to take spots only and not shelter? Leaving shelters for the thrus and section guys...Am I wrong? What is trail etiquette? What,if anything should have been said? Or is this just par for the course?
    Thanks...just want to know next time,if something like this happens.

  2. #2

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    In theory, groups should be limited to 10 people max (including chaperons) and they should not take over a shelter. Some groups abide by the rules while others could give a crap about other people, like the group you ran into. Complaining does no good, but it can make you feel better after a rightness rant.
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  3. #3
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Best to get perspective on this from the oracle: Lone Wolf.

  4. #4
    Registered User thecyclops's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Best to get perspective on this from the oracle: Lone Wolf.
    I would love to get his insight......

  5. #5
    Registered User thecyclops's Avatar
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    the group was around 20-30 I would say.

  6. #6

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    Go read ATC website.
    Groups are not supposed to use shelters.
    Just another reason why they should be removed.
    That includes groups of section hikers and thru hikers too, they make no exception for them.

  7. #7
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    There's ignorance: I would expect that a lot of camping groups like this don't know about any "Rules" and have never heard of leave-no-trace. If you made mention of the rules, they'd possibly look all over the shelter for them.

    And then there's belligerence: 7 to 15 year-olds are generally going to follow the lead of their chaperons, and if the chaperons choose to ignore the rules, they're training a new group of idiots.

    You can educate the first. Not much you can do about the other.

    I'm pretty sure Lone Wolf would say stay away from the shelter.

  8. #8
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    Lightbulb Don't know about etiquette

    The Gooch Mountain Shelter is within Chattahoochee National Forest.
    The only regulations I could find on limits to stays in shelter is that no person can stay at any one sight for more than three nights during any thirty day period.
    http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_...prd3824389.pdf
    There does not seem to be any limit on the size of a group, or at least any that I could find.

    The GENERAL rule I've always followed on shelters is simple: first come, first served.
    Three times I've arrived at shelters that were full due to a college crowd having a weekend "bonding" trip just before the start of the school year.
    I wasn't happy at any of these incidents, but I realized I had no cause for complaint. They got there before I did, so I had to simply make do.
    In one of these cases, similar to yours (shelter full but heavy rain occurring), I asked them to make room for me, and they were kind (or took pity on me) enough to agree.
    I sort of "sang for my supper" by sharing my backpacking experience and expertise to people who had never backpacked in their lives.


    > I though[t] large groups were to take spots only and not shelter?
    > Leaving shelters for the thrus and section guys ... Am I wrong?

    The only rule I could find is a GUIDELINE from the ATC:
    http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiki...amilies-groups
    "Groups are welcome on the Trail, but bear in mind that the Trail is narrow and campsites are small.
    Please follow these guidelines as you plan your outings. ...
    When staying at Trail shelters where tenting is permitted, pitch tents nearby, leaving the shelter for solo hikers."

    The extent to which these guidelines supersede the FCFS guideline is a matter of opinion.
    You could always ask for mercy in these situations, but I myself wouldn't raise any fuss if I didn't get what I wanted.


    I've always felt that part of the adventure of back-country camping is that you DON'T know what you'll get on the trail.
    The shelter or hostel might be full, or even closed.
    The water source might be completely dry.
    The post office might have closed an hour early.
    The campsite might be under three inches of water.

    In all of these cases, you might have experienced misfortune, but I wouldn't say you were bamboozled.
    For myself, I would simply make alternate plans.
    Last edited by GoldenBear; 06-06-2015 at 10:05. Reason: Found an online rule

  9. #9
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    Similar situation happened to me at Ensign Cowall Shelter a few years back. Substitute a Maryland Boy Scout Troop for a church group.
    I waited for the torrential rain to slacken to move on . A fellow hiker I met the next day said the entire group of about 20 was still there late that morning.
    Scout Masters should've split their group in half , with one half hiking ahead, so as not to crowd out other hikers.
    On the bright side I was so glad I got ahead of them by a day.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by thecyclops View Post
    I would love to get his insight......
    shelters are first come, first served. NOBODY gets preferential treatment. especially thru-hikers

  11. #11
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    Please, do not be opposed to groups.

    Groups just need to have guidelines - for the dummies who can't figure out what basic LNT is....

    I feel that the ATC should advise that groups are welcome to stay in camping areas BUT NOT SHELTERS! IMO (although I am a lowly section-hiker), shelters should be reserved for unaffiliated groups of 4 or fewer.

    Groups should also be advised to make sure they travel in numbers of 15 or less. (I believe BSA actually states 14??). If they have more than that, they should divide and not camp in the same area. This is specified on the NCT portion of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Note: If they do not have enough adults, too bad! Our Troop had to limit events on a few occasions because we didn't have the adults for a second or third group.

  12. #12
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Wolf is right, but just because people can do something does not mean they should.

  13. #13
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    i consider 30 wannabe thru-hikers starting on the same day, a group. they should stay out of shelters

  14. #14
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    If the lack of space in a shelter messes up your long walk, then you are not prepared for your long walk. Let them have the rodent hotels. Sleeping in your carried shelter is a better option anyways.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by shelb View Post
    Please, do not be opposed to groups.

    Groups just need to have guidelines - for the dummies who can't figure out what basic LNT is....

    I feel that the ATC should advise that groups are welcome to stay in camping areas BUT NOT SHELTERS! IMO (although I am a lowly section-hiker), shelters should be reserved for unaffiliated groups of 4 or fewer.

    Groups should also be advised to make sure they travel in numbers of 15 or less. (I believe BSA actually states 14??). If they have more than that, they should divide and not camp in the same area. This is specified on the NCT portion of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Note: If they do not have enough adults, too bad! Our Troop had to limit events on a few occasions because we didn't have the adults for a second or third group.
    Universally, groups monopolize space, disturb others, and create an environment reminiscent of the one most people go to the trail to get AWAY from.
    This is pretty much why they are despised, behaviors aside.

    No one wants to hike 10 miles to feel like they are at a state park on 4th of July weekend. Thats groups.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 06-05-2015 at 20:18.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by BirdBrain View Post
    If the lack of space in a shelter messes up your long walk, then you are not prepared for your long walk. Let them have the rodent hotels. Sleeping in your carried shelter is a better option anyways.
    I get where you are coming from; however, it is nice - from a social standpoint - to stay in the shelters if they aren't taken up by a group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shelb View Post
    I get where you are coming from; however, it is nice - from a social standpoint - to stay in the shelters if they aren't taken up by a group.
    I honestly don't grasp the dilemma. I don't socialize while I am sleeping. I have never been to a shelter where people did not allow me to socialize with people in a shelter while I was awake even though I was not planning on sleeping in the shelter.
    In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. - Abraham Lincoln

  18. #18

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    I think it's great that they get the kids out there.
    Being rained on for a few days would make it a bit of a turn-off, but turning it into a fun trip by playing war? Well, to each their own I guess.
    Some of the church people I know seem to like war, so, I guess it fits.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  19. #19
    Registered User Just Bill's Avatar
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    General rule of thumb for a group- don't fill up "non-group" designated areas with your group.

    General rule of thumb for the AT- tough $#!T if the shelter is full.

    Generally though folks tend to help out in a bad storm- and we all like shelters in a bad storm.

  20. #20
    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    If you define "bad storm" as "you can hear the widowmakers crashing down all through the woods, and the wind is likely to tear your tent/hammock/tarp to shreds", yes, that's one thing that will get me into a shelter in hiking season. I don't mind, much, using them in winter, or using ones on less-popular trails where they may get one party a week. Although that raccoon in Harriman may make me revise my thinking.

    For a lesser storm, well, I'm pretty sure that my tent won't leak. Can't say the same about the roof of any given shelter.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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