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Thread: AT shelters

  1. #1

    Default AT shelters

    I'll be starting my thru hike March 17. I've been looking on white blaze for several weeks and am curious if I can expect to have somebody else in the shelters most nights im on the trail?

  2. #2

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    You may or may not. First come first served. Weather may play a big part.

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    Maryland Naturalist ddanko2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frozenbravo View Post
    I'll be starting my thru hike March 17. I've been looking on white blaze for several weeks and am curious if I can expect to have somebody else in the shelters most nights im on the trail?

    100% of the time for at least your first week, ~90-95% of the time afterwards. Just from my own experience.

  4. #4

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    Will you be NOBO from Springer? If so, I think you can pretty much count on others in the shelters until the herd thins out.

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    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Depending on how fast you hike, you may find shelters full when you get there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by frozenbravo View Post
    I'll be starting my thru hike March 17. I've been looking on white blaze for several weeks and am curious if I can expect to have somebody else in the shelters most nights im on the trail?
    shelters will be full every night for at least 400 miles

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    shelters will be full every night for at least 400 miles
    Everything on here is 100% accurate, most that have posted have been there and done it and a lot more experience then myself, but I would plan on sharing until Akins, V and perhaps further. After the bubble or heard as you hear of thins out, you will still have weekenders, section hikers, hobos and mice Bring a 4x8 piece of tyvek to lay under your pad, will cut down on virus transfer, and will establish a "frozenbravo" area for yourself.
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  8. #8

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    I will be NOBO from Springer. Question posted was to try and solidify my packing arrangements. "Gambit" well played. Thanks all.

  9. #9

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    Shelters start filling up by 2 in the afternoon, in season.

    Even in the off season, they fill up with locals having campouts, unfortunately. One told me "we thought that you hikers were done by now, and we could take over". That was in October in NC.

    Back in the 1970's, yes we had them to ourselves.

  10. #10

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    Don't be tied to shelters. You will find them overcrowded and filthy during peak thru hiking season (you'll be right in the middle of it) and there will be no peace or quiet. If I am hiking during peak times, one of my favorite things to do is stop at shelters to get water and possibly cook dinner (depending on what time it is) and then hike on a mile or two. You will almost always find a unmarked campsite within a mile of the shelter and have it all to yourself or only 1-2 other people.

  11. #11

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    If your asking this question because you don't want to carry a tent, forget about that idea. If the weather is bad, the shelter will be full from people who came the day before and didn't leave. With 20 to 50 people a day, everyday heading out in March and April, not only will the shelters be full, but all the tent sites around and between shelters will be full too.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Northbound start on March 17? Count on shelters being full pretty much every night.

  13. #13

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    Of course, since the dropout rate is fairly high for March starters, if your one of those who make it past the Smokies, the chances of having shelter space goes up significantly.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    I would suggest camping starting out away from shelters. Shelters at the start of the crowd season are annoying and messy. If you do stay at shelters, carry ear plugs. Snoring, farting, and partying.
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    no and yes, I found most folks deathly afraid of shelters the first week, UNLESS IT RAINS! They had all heard so many bad rumors. I stayed with one person at Hawk Mt shelter with 50 tents and hammocks around it.

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    I started April 2nd, 2011 and saw some shelters empty and some full. Bad weather usually filled them out. I slept near S Shelter several times during rain as the sheltersupport were full. On most clear nights you'll find there's plenty of room, but why would you need it. They make excellent places to log in, eat something or just gather information. I remember staying outside a shelter just pass the Smoked after Easter because the shelter was packed. Don't remember how many people were killed by tornadoes that night, none on the AT, but still it was a bit impressive how they filled up. North of the Smokies I could have stayed in about any Shelter had there been a need. I do remember a few Shelters that were quite nice along the AT, so don’t accept all the negative talk, though camping is excellent along the entire AT.

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    Frozenbravo do you want company in the shelters or do you not want company?

    If the answer is the later.. I'd recommend choosing shelters that are within a couple miles (or closer) of a town. Most hikers will buzz on by to get down to the restaurants. That said.. if you are hiking northbound starting any time in March or April.. most shelters will be full... at least in Georgia and NC. By the time you get up to New England the crowds decrease significantly and you will often have empty shelters.

    Another way to avoid crowded shelters is to tent 1/4 mile away (so you can still avail your self of outhouse and water source).

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    Shelters start filling up by 2 in the afternoon, in season.

    Even in the off season, they fill up with locals having campouts, unfortunately. One told me "we thought that you hikers were done by now, and we could take over". That was in October in NC.

    Back in the 1970's, yes we had them to ourselves.
    Are you suggesting that the shelters should be prioritized for thru hikers?

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    The shelters are a nice way to concentrate impacts and usage, especially with regards to washing dishes, privy usage and just tromping around during mealtime. They are also useful rest stops during the day to lunch at, rest, or hit the logbooks. In foul weather they are a useful place to escape the worst weather especially if its blowing hard and/or lightening. The shelters are also great for the social aspect of the AT. Yes you give up privacy, solitude, and the rustic feel, especially if in the hiking season but the trade-off can be fun. They are often located in quite scenic or otherwise unique spots as well, not always but quite often....early in the trail it seemed Darwinistic "first come, first served" as to shelter space. By about Fontana Hilton it evolved into "the shelter isn't full until no one is in the rain". Nonetheless they are nicer to enjoy outside of the peak hiker season especially the nobo bulge. In the early 90's that bulge noticeably thinned north of the GSMNP finding shelters that were solitary for me on a regular basis didn't start occurring (weekdays of course, weekends the locals/Boy Scouts/leafpeepers/etc all are out) until north of SNP.

    To me a "good" shelter was a simple 3-sided lean to with a smaller (read "tarp-able" for foul weather) entrance but yet allows light in, with a picnic table and/or cooking platform, a nice radiating firepit that could warm it up (the Smokies shelters had this nicely built in the walls as i recall, but they were stone sided; this would be hard to do with a log or wood sided one without the attendant fire hazard), with a decent location (a vista was a distinct plus), a clean and well-maintained privy whether simple or fancy, enclosed or not; the same for a good springbox water source; and that is probably the main location limiting aspect for (potential) shelter sites. Provision for tenting nearby was a bonus along with a clearing or small glade to toss frisbee around in or just cowboy camp in under the stars. The AT shelters are a great resource even if you tent a majority of nights.

    Memorable shelter privies in '93 were Trapper John's rustic rocking Chair, Horn's Pond LeanTo climb up into solar com-poster (and it was nice and warm on a cold rainly day w/o odor to boot), Cloudland's 360 view Victorian cupola, Jeffer's Brook's MC Escher privy with crazy stairs into it and side by side 2-hole seating, Hexcuba Shelter's "Pentaprivy", Little Bigelow LeanTo's Cottage-in-the-Woods privy complete with shutters and curtains on the glass windows, Tray Mtns. vista-view privy. NC, TN-NC, TN was frustrating privy less for long stretches or at best hit or miss shelter by shelter, funny that most of the whimsical privies were in the Northern 1/3rd of the trail, especially ME.

    That being said it was also great to have a tent and enjoy all the upsides of tenting as well which is 1) ability to stealth camp on impulse in a great spot, which I probably did a couple dozen times on a now-low mileage day (say like Beauty Spot, the TN-VA line with a great view off of Holston-Iron mountains, Peru Peak (VT), Blue Mtn summit (ME), Max Patch summit (NC), Sunfish Pond (NJ), Great Gulf campsite (NH), the Southern Presidential range about 1.5 miles north of Mizpah hut (but below treeline), etc. 2) can select a rustic, quiet location or, alternatively at most shelter sites (or hostels for that matter that offer the option) retire out to a quieter bed, 3) give you schedule flexibility especially during long stretches of rainy weather, 4) allow for a fuller trail experience. I found that alternating between "social" shelters and "solitary" tenting was fun and part of the full AT experience.

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    you may want to rephrase this as "I'm wondering if there will be any room in the shelter for me." Yeah, they're jamma-mamma-slammed.

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