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  1. #101

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    This is an old thread but somebody bumped it back up and I noticed the word "etiquette" in relation to the rat-box AT shelters and had to laugh. Hikers who depend on these hepatitis-boxes are probably the same kind of people who dial in a SPOT rescue as soon as a snowflake falls and the temps plunge to 40F. It's the entitlement generation I guess.



    AT backpackers need desperately to spend 10 years backpacker in areas without these shelters and they would sing a different tune. "What shelters??" should be the main thought in your head when you're out backpacking. Have everything on your back to survive rainstorms and thunderstorms and blizzards and arctic cold snaps to -10F.

    Somebody needs to write a decent screed against AT shelters and I guess it's up to me:

    http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=480560

    MAIN POINTS---
    ** Shelters erase any feel of wilderness . . . a shelter becomes an Interstate highway Rest Area so take the exit along with everyone else.

    ** What normal man would want to sleep butt-to-butt with other strange men??

    ** Hikers who sleep in shelters are like urban squatters sleeping under a bridge abutment.

    ** QUOTE: "The only good thing about these AT carports is they lure in and congregate the idiots whereby I can disperse camp a mile away and avoid the lunacy."

    ** THIS SUMS IT UP FOR ME:

    BOX DEPENDENT
    " The shelter residents actually have the gall to say the shelter has rules like no dogs and yet they are wrong as the shelter is a wide open piss tank available to anyone for any activity. If you're dumb enough to use them on your backpacking trip and too lazy to set up your own shelter then you have nothing to say for yourself in defense of your space while in one of these rat boxes. Because once you air a single complaint you are advertising your unwillingness to rely on your own shelter system. You willingly have allowed yourself to be box dependent and this choice negates any indignation you may have with fellow occupants in the same box. You're all in the same boiling pot of sewage and slowly cooking in a rat box induced retardation."


    " Once dependent on these mud homes people get prickly as if shelters have rules and they develop a strong sense of entitlement to these open sores. "No dogs! No tents inside! No smoking! No room except for me and my friends!! No noise after 9pm!! Full up, sleep in the rain!!! I was here first!! Here, take a hit! I'm a thruhiker, you're not so make room for me! I've been on the trail for 4 months and will now take your questions! We are high mileage experts, now you may ask your questions! Gotta catch up with my friends Turd Blossom and Semen Tank!!! Did they sign the register???!!"

    This was written in January 2015, well before thecyclops original post and is therefore not personally directed at him, actually.

    It's clear that you don't like shelters but this is sounding a lot like "Get off my lawn!" or "Back in my day...!". Funny to read (occasionally), but not very useful to the OP's question. Like it or not, shelters exist and some people choose to use them. Agree or disagree, its their call. Why not use some of your backpacking experience to benefit newer backpackers by actually answering, instead of ranting at, the question?

  2. #102
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    In PA, the A.T. has rocks, limited views, the Doyle, and shelters. Many hike it.
    The longest trail in PA is Mid State Trail. No shelters, many better views, State College in place of Duncannon, and (effectively) no shelters. Almost no one hikes it. http://www.hike-mst.org

  3. #103
    Registered User mtnkngxt's Avatar
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    Sleeping in shelters isn't something I like to do. I'd much prefer to avoid the hiker version of the Petri dish known as preschool. Get a bunch of unwashed kids touching everything, cooking, and sleeping in close proximity. I'll take my Tarp tent any night regardless of weather except possibly hail or a close proximity heavy frequency lightning.

  4. #104
    Registered User Hoofit's Avatar
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    I' m reminded of the phrase, " No Snivelling"!

    The day had started out quite beautifully with some light snow as I headed out from Neels Gap , fifteen pounds lighter after a much needed shakedown and well refreshed with some of Miss Janet's hearty food and a couple of good night's sleep.
    By late afternoon the snow had turned to light rain followed by a torrential downpour. However I cared not as I had visions of a shelter along the path and had already decided to rest there for the night rather than set up camp in the rain.
    I remember the elation, something that I would experience many times over the following few months, as I rounded the corner and spotted the little shelter down the hill. Ah, at last and I charged on. As I reached the shelter I noticed a couple of pairs of poles and assumed there would be enough space left for a wet, solo hiker like myself. I pulled back the huge tarp and peered in. There were perhaps six or seven in there, somewhat spread out but nonetheless dry.
    "Hi, how ya ' doing? Got room for one more?
    "Ah, not really, it's pretty full in here......."
    I looked back out, heavy rain still lashing the old tarp and then looked back in again....
    "You sure, looks like there's room for one more?!"
    A hushed silence fell upon the place and as I looked around at the faces, so the faces turned away....
    F....ck it I decided and went out to the side of the shelter, pitched my tent in the downpour, cussing under my breath at the lack of comraderie shown by my fellow hikers that cold, wet night.
    Once inside my tent and settled, I decided there and then, to NEVER, ever again 'expect' to just show up and have a warm, dry place to hang my hat. After just a few short days, I had already become dependent on others way too much! No more and that's the way it stayed. My new feeling of independence from the shelters carried me along just fine .

  5. #105

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoofit View Post
    I' m reminded of the phrase, " No Snivelling"!

    The day had started out quite beautifully with some light snow as I headed out from Neels Gap , fifteen pounds lighter after a much needed shakedown and well refreshed with some of Miss Janet's hearty food and a couple of good night's sleep.
    By late afternoon the snow had turned to light rain followed by a torrential downpour. However I cared not as I had visions of a shelter along the path and had already decided to rest there for the night rather than set up camp in the rain.
    I remember the elation, something that I would experience many times over the following few months, as I rounded the corner and spotted the little shelter down the hill. Ah, at last and I charged on. As I reached the shelter I noticed a couple of pairs of poles and assumed there would be enough space left for a wet, solo hiker like myself. I pulled back the huge tarp and peered in. There were perhaps six or seven in there, somewhat spread out but nonetheless dry.
    "Hi, how ya ' doing? Got room for one more?
    "Ah, not really, it's pretty full in here......."
    I looked back out, heavy rain still lashing the old tarp and then looked back in again....
    "You sure, looks like there's room for one more?!"
    A hushed silence fell upon the place and as I looked around at the faces, so the faces turned away....
    F....ck it I decided and went out to the side of the shelter, pitched my tent in the downpour, cussing under my breath at the lack of comraderie shown by my fellow hikers that cold, wet night.
    Once inside my tent and settled, I decided there and then, to NEVER, ever again 'expect' to just show up and have a warm, dry place to hang my hat. After just a few short days, I had already become dependent on others way too much! No more and that's the way it stayed. My new feeling of independence from the shelters carried me along just fine .
    Given the right crowd, shelters can be good for the social aspect, but I'll take a tent site in the vicinity rather than the shelter itself unless weather condition are crazy. Given the conditions outside, I would have taken the approach of just walking in and putting my stuff down and letting them rearrange. (Better to ask forgiveness type of situation...) Yes, shelter space is first come first served, but your space entitlement is the footprint of your sleeping pad, and not much else. Still, sounds like it had a good outcome.

  6. #106
    Registered User Hoofit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Offshore View Post
    Given the right crowd, shelters can be good for the social aspect, but I'll take a tent site in the vicinity rather than the shelter itself unless weather condition are crazy. Given the conditions outside, I would have taken the approach of just walking in and putting my stuff down and letting them rearrange. (Better to ask forgiveness type of situation...) Yes, shelter space is first come first served, but your space entitlement is the footprint of your sleeping pad, and not much else. Still, sounds like it had a good outcome.
    Yep, all was fine after a good night's sleep!
    I admit to enjoying the looks of the somewhat guilty faces the following morning!
    Truth is, for me personally, it's the sounds and smells of the woods that in large part drew me to the trails and that is best appreciated in a tent or under a tarp than in a man-made shelter.

  7. #107

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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.
    +1
    In my experience, it's better to move on down/up trail a bit and leave the crowded noisy shelter and shelter area to it's own devices. Maybe grab some water for dinner before you go, or even stop and make sinner before you go. You will sleep better and keep your zen healthy.
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  8. #108
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    Shelters? Some are nice, some suck, sometimes it's the people in 'em that make them nice or not-nice. At least half the time I'll set up my tent near the shelter rather than stay in it. If I do stay in the shelter, I scout out nearby tent sites anyway. I've been known to leave the shelter, set up and move into my tent in the middle of the night. Sometimes it's the snores that get to me, sometimes it's the skeeters and other wildlife.

    Shelter mice are (I believe) less of an issue in the off-season. Shelters near roads are best avoided -- they're used by townie teenagers and folks who haven't learned LNT or woods etiquette. The farther from a road, the safer you are from that sort of nonsense.

  9. #109

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    I'd like to see the trail clubs start replacing the shelters with just a pavilion type roof on four posts. No wooden floors or walls. Jut have gravel floors. Sort of like the open design overhangs they have been retrofitting on the southern AT shelters, except not connected to a lean-to this time. Maybe more picnic tables placed strategically at tent sites could help too. Ultimately, having a great tent or hammock or bivy or tarp set-up is the default stress-reducer over having to deal with shelter woes.

  10. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by jacob_springsteen View Post
    I'd like to see the trail clubs start replacing the shelters with just a pavilion type roof on four posts. No wooden floors or walls. Jut have gravel floors. Sort of like the open design overhangs they have been retrofitting on the southern AT shelters, except not connected to a lean-to this time. Maybe more picnic tables placed strategically at tent sites could help too. Ultimately, having a great tent or hammock or bivy or tarp set-up is the default stress-reducer over having to deal with shelter woes.
    Having several years of maintaining trails under my belt, I have come to a few conclusions about shelters. My first thought is, if you believe maintaining clubs of the AT should be doing something different, get involved with the club(s) and help them. If its a good idea you have and would solve problems they are having, I am positive you will be well received.

    Picnic tables for some reason bear the brunt of misuse by people who are constantly trying to etch their names into the table with all sorts of things that cut and scratch, burn holes in them through careless or inexperienced use of cooking systems, get food and cooking prep ingredients ground into the table surfaces that form huge colonies of bacteria and attract vermin, and fail to wash properly before sitting at these tables and enable the consumption of their bacteria by others. I once found a family changing diapers on a picnic table who took great offense when I suggested they find a better place to do that. I will never eat at a picnic table again as a result of what I have seen and cleaned up. That said, putting a picnic table at a site less than a mile from the trailhead is not much of an issue. To place one into a back country site many miles in is no easy feat, though small, it takes several people to haul in the lumber to build them, then destroy and haul out the remnants of the old one. My first response to anyone suggesting a picnic table be provided at a given location is to volunteer yourself or company to sponsor a table and maintain it for a while.

    Shelters on the other hand serve other functions beyond a convenient lunch stop or party point for the Frat House gang a few months out of the year. They are fixed waypoints used for navigation in forests (not everyone is on a well blazed or worn trail), they are bivouac or meeting points easily found by most so getting spread out is not an issue, and they become kind of the social platform of the trail overall for any number of things from recent news to weather reports. From a maintenance standpoint, they are a common area where people go to perform various things like using a latrine, cooking meals, and other uses that generate trash or debris that has to be cleaned up. I would prefer to have this all in one area than scout around the entire length of trail system for junk.

    Shelters also can be life saving. Its not infrequently you hear of people caught in dangerous weather experiencing gear failure and had the luck to make it to a shelter, who credit the structure for their survival. Many on this board have said while they prefer camping outside of shelter areas, they have used them during bad weather and medical issues or injuries that needed to be tended to. I can see the pavilion type of shelter used in places that have a lot of day visitors, but for the back country folks, shelters have functions beyond just a place to stop for a rest.

    I've not hiked much of the trail south of VA so I don't know if the shelters there are much different than in the Northeast, but most all the shelters I have seen are lean-to type structures that are closed on three sides and have an open front. Anything less that that will not provide much shelter in a wind driven snow or rain event and in my view would not fill their primary purpose of surviving weather events.

    As with many here, I don't care much for shelters but will use them especially in cold weather months when weather turns ugly. I am thankful they are around during those occasions and makes it less onerous to clean up after a relatively few people trash a site in fair weather use.

  11. #111
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    IMO, the AT's three-sided lean-to design is the most effective and generally more pleasant to be at. A simple pavilion roof won't protect you from wind-blown rain or snow. Gravel floor wouldn't be fun to sleep on. On the Long Trail they have four-sided cabins (aka camps) which I don't much care for, either. On the western trails they don't do shelters much at all.

    There's a huge variability in shelter design, siting, general condition, privies, water, fire rings, picnic tables, etc. My nominal destination is usually a shelter or campsite. Whether to stay there or not, I decide at the last moment. I use the shelter if it feels right, otherwise I'm in my tent. Hike in the off-season in less-traveled AT sections and you're likely to find shelters mostly empty.

  12. #112
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    Quote Originally Posted by AT Traveler View Post
    Having several years of maintaining trails under my belt, I have come to a few conclusions about shelters. My first thought is, if you believe maintaining clubs of the AT should be doing something different, get involved with the club(s) and help them. If its a good idea you have and would solve problems they are having, I am positive you will be well received.

    Picnic tables for some reason bear the brunt of misuse by people who are constantly trying to etch their names into the table with all sorts of things that cut and scratch, burn holes in them through careless or inexperienced use of cooking systems, get food and cooking prep ingredients ground into the table surfaces that form huge colonies of bacteria and attract vermin, and fail to wash properly before sitting at these tables and enable the consumption of their bacteria by others. I once found a family changing diapers on a picnic table who took great offense when I suggested they find a better place to do that. I will never eat at a picnic table again as a result of what I have seen and cleaned up. That said, putting a picnic table at a site less than a mile from the trailhead is not much of an issue. To place one into a back country site many miles in is no easy feat, though small, it takes several people to haul in the lumber to build them, then destroy and haul out the remnants of the old one. My first response to anyone suggesting a picnic table be provided at a given location is to volunteer yourself or company to sponsor a table and maintain it for a while.

    Shelters on the other hand serve other functions beyond a convenient lunch stop or party point for the Frat House gang a few months out of the year. They are fixed waypoints used for navigation in forests (not everyone is on a well blazed or worn trail), they are bivouac or meeting points easily found by most so getting spread out is not an issue, and they become kind of the social platform of the trail overall for any number of things from recent news to weather reports. From a maintenance standpoint, they are a common area where people go to perform various things like using a latrine, cooking meals, and other uses that generate trash or debris that has to be cleaned up. I would prefer to have this all in one area than scout around the entire length of trail system for junk.

    Shelters also can be life saving. Its not infrequently you hear of people caught in dangerous weather experiencing gear failure and had the luck to make it to a shelter, who credit the structure for their survival. Many on this board have said while they prefer camping outside of shelter areas, they have used them during bad weather and medical issues or injuries that needed to be tended to. I can see the pavilion type of shelter used in places that have a lot of day visitors, but for the back country folks, shelters have functions beyond just a place to stop for a rest.

    I've not hiked much of the trail south of VA so I don't know if the shelters there are much different than in the Northeast, but most all the shelters I have seen are lean-to type structures that are closed on three sides and have an open front. Anything less that that will not provide much shelter in a wind driven snow or rain event and in my view would not fill their primary purpose of surviving weather events.

    As with many here, I don't care much for shelters but will use them especially in cold weather months when weather turns ugly. I am thankful they are around during those occasions and makes it less onerous to clean up after a relatively few people trash a site in fair weather use.
    Excellent insights.

  13. #113
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    I haven't even begun yet, but the shelters feel like it takes away from what I'm trying to do. I do see that I would be grateful for it in weather and injury emergencies, but on a random good day... I believe I will be using it more as a mile marker and move on down the road a bit for sleeping. I want to feel like I am in a controlled version of wilderness, not just choosing to sleep in a dirty place with strangers. Maybe the AT is so well traveled now that it may be impossible to really be "alone" out there, but I like the fantasy world I live in and anyone carrying a needle, please step away from my bubble. Please allow me to continue to pretend that I am going to be a tough lady who makes it through the wilderness for about 90 miles. Don't let me see that I am just another heifer in the middle of a cattle drive instead.
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

  14. #114
    Registered User 2015 Lady Thru-Hiker's Avatar
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    All I can say to your statement is wow!
    ““Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees....” ― John Muir

  15. #115
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lnj View Post
    I haven't even begun yet, but the shelters feel like it takes away from what I'm trying to do. I do see that I would be grateful for it in weather and injury emergencies, but on a random good day... I believe I will be using it more as a mile marker and move on down the road a bit for sleeping. I want to feel like I am in a controlled version of wilderness, not just choosing to sleep in a dirty place with strangers. Maybe the AT is so well traveled now that it may be impossible to really be "alone" out there, but I like the fantasy world I live in and anyone carrying a needle, please step away from my bubble. Please allow me to continue to pretend that I am going to be a tough lady who makes it through the wilderness for about 90 miles. Don't let me see that I am just another heifer in the middle of a cattle drive instead.
    The A.T. isn't wilderness. But it is tough, you've got that part right. Once you get on the trail and away from internet posters you will find that the shelters don't take away much of anything, they're mostly just a stack of logs or rough cut boards off of a side trail.

    The A.T. is wilderness light and it has been since it was created. It's awesome for what it is, no need to imagine that it's something else... As for "wilderness" there are plenty of places where you can travel off trail once you are sufficiently experienced. Real East coast wilderness is savage and spectacular, it's something to be experienced, but get plenty of time on a more forgiving trail under your belt before you try it.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  16. #116
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    Lnj, I don't know where you're getting your info about the AT. I've been on and about the AT for some 40 years now, never seen anyone with a needle. Smokeables, for sure. Needles, never.

    Yes, you will meet "strangers." That's part of the adventure. 99% of the folks you meet on the trail are good folks. If they have long hair, dirty clothes, beards and/or smell bad, that's par for the course.

  17. #117

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    Quote Originally Posted by rafe View Post
    Lnj, I don't know where you're getting your info about the AT. I've been on and about the AT for some 40 years now, never seen anyone with a needle. Smokeables, for sure. Needles, never.

    Yes, you will meet "strangers." That's part of the adventure. 99% of the folks you meet on the trail are good folks. If they have long hair, dirty clothes, beards and/or smell bad, that's par for the course.
    Yes, I carry a concealed needle, and I'm very thankful I've never had to use, but I'm well prepared if I have too, ugly as that would be. It's a cruel world out there.

  18. #118
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    Yes, I carry a concealed needle, and I'm very thankful I've never had to use, but I'm well prepared if I have too, ugly as that would be. It's a cruel world out there.
    I too carry a sewing needle, but I don't think that's the kind of needle they were talking about.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  19. #119

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    On the issue of strangers.... As an Aesop pointed out in his fable, you will likely find the same type of people you expect to find. Change your expectations and you will find different types of people.

    "People are strange when you're a stranger, faces look ugly when you're alone" Jim Morrison
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres" (Hell is other people) JP Sartre
    "There are no strangers here, only friends you haven't met yet" Yeats

  20. #120

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lnj View Post
    Maybe the AT is so well traveled now that it may be impossible to really be "alone" out there, but I like the fantasy world I live in and anyone carrying a needle, please step away from my bubble. .
    Needle would seem to be a figurative one.

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