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Thread: First Timer

  1. #1
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    Default First Timer

    Hey all,

    Planning a NOBO thru hike in 2018..
    It is my understanding that when it comes to camping, you have to stay in a designated area, which usually has a shelter. I am looking for clarification, is there a place to set up your tent at each designated spot? So miles per day need to depend on where the next shelter is? If one is looking to not spend money on hostels, hotels, or even in a shelter (I get that after so many nights on the floor, a change will be nice) can they camp on the trail? It seems from the reading I have done that hikers spend more nights in shelters/hostels/hotels than in their tents, tarps, etc. Can anyone clarify this..?

  2. #2
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    Will make this as short as possible.
    Some sections of the trail have designated area camping only, others you can camp anywhere 150-200ft away from the trail or a water source. These shelters you are reading about are in most cases just a lean-to, some are nicer than others. There is no charge for shelters, they are literally a three sided wood structure most of the time. Most shelter sites do have room for tents around it. There are some campsites and shelters that do have a small charge, but these are avoidable if you plan accordingly. All of the ones that charge are up north in the Whites I believe.

    Many hikers do not use the shetlers and only use their tent or hammock. Shelters can be a haven for mice and other critters, it comes down to personal preference if you will use shelters or not. Sometimes the shelters are full and you have no choice but to tent it.

    Strongly recommend you pick up an AT guide book, and that will give you detailed trail information if your wanting to starting planning your thru hike.
    "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." George Orwell

  3. #3

    Default

    Camping at designated sites is typically preferred for a number of reasons. In some areas, it's required. There are often many more people at a shelter site then the shelter can hold (a typical shelter holds 6 to 8 comfortably, but some can hold up to 15), therefore, most everyone is in a tent or other suitable personal shelter in the immediate area around the shelter.

    Shelters are a natural stopping point and usually have amenities such as a fire ring, picnic table, a privy to poop in and a reliable water source near-by. It also concentrates the impact hikers have on the environment to relatively small areas.

    While you can camp along the trail in many areas (but not all!) you will often have no good place to sit, will have to dig a hole to poop in and will have to carry all the water you need for the night and morning, possibly for a long distance. The ground will also usually be uneven, slopping at an angle, covered with sticks and roots and rocks which will have to be moved out of the way, overgrown with vegetation and so on.

    Avoiding hostels and towns is easier said then done. Rarely does that work out.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  4. #4
    GAME 06
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    ckeys11

    While there are a few places with mandatory camping locations there are not that many compared to the total of the trail. GSMNP, a few places in New England. As a point of planning it is possible to hike fast and blow by many of these places. As you might tell from what I just wrote I don't like such requirements and try hard to avoid them.

    After 1 AT thru hike and about 4000 miles total on the AT I have stayed in a shelter about 20 times and most of those were because it was winter and there was no one else there. When others are present at shelters I might eat and gather water and then I move on to find a solitary camping spot. I find them much preferable. They are cleaner by far, they are quiet, folks don't come into camp way after dark and wake everyone up, and you can get up before daylight and get started at first light and not bother anyone. And not using shelters results in much higher daily mileage as there is no temptation to stop short due to a shelter and jumping into the social life.

    But that being said you are very young and most younger folks love the shelter social life that I can't stand. So ymmv.

    And your impression that there are thru hikers who spend many more nights in shelters, hostels and motels than actually camping is certainly accurate. But, while folks like me have no interest in such, there is nothing wrong with it providing you have funds and time for it.

  5. #5

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    I've found that pitching the tent is preferable to shelters.
    Too many mice and their poop that you could run into a problem with.

    That happened out in Yosemite a few years back.

    The shelter is wide open and colder than your tent.

    It may take a few minutes longer to pack up with the tent but worth it.

  6. #6

    Default

    Most places you can simply put up your tent...if you're not supposed to there will generally be a sign telling you so.

  7. #7

    Default

    Have a look here to get an idea
    http://www.summitpost.org/appalachia...e-chart/593282
    The AT guide book is a similar idea, but has mileage charts, town info, etc. But that link is a good start to get the idea

    Your campsites and shelters are noted. You can use your tent at any of those, or stay in the free shelters

    If you decide to try and camp somewhere other than the noted campsites or shelters, then it can be a bit uncertain. You might find a good site, or maybe not so good

  8. #8
    Registered User Miguelon's Avatar
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    Default

    Hey,

    I learned a lot by watching videos.

    Craig M's videos are beautiful.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eQA...gDfdcJmBe9y31n

    The Hiking Viking's videos are pretty funny:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...Jte-XNOlNUeC60

    Highlander 58 videos are pretty well done:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCni...L8fMcL9BhNrcCA

    All the best,
    Miguelon

  9. #9
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ckeys11 View Post
    Hey all,

    Planning a NOBO thru hike in 2018..
    It is my understanding that when it comes to camping, you have to stay in a designated area, which usually has a shelter. I am looking for clarification, is there a place to set up your tent at each designated spot? So miles per day need to depend on where the next shelter is? If one is looking to not spend money on hostels, hotels, or even in a shelter (I get that after so many nights on the floor, a change will be nice) can they camp on the trail? It seems from the reading I have done that hikers spend more nights in shelters/hostels/hotels than in their tents, tarps, etc. Can anyone clarify this..?
    In most, but not all areas, you can camp pretty much where you would like. Pay attention to fire restrictions. If camping is prohibited, there will be ample warning either via signs or in your AWOL or ALDHA guide (you will have one of these, yes?). Shelters in general get mixed reviews. Some hate them all, others like them, most opinions fall in between.

    Shelter pluses:
    Typically near a water source, a table, fire ring, privy, etc. Minimizes impact in other areas. Safer in high winds and lightning/thunderstorms (strikes, falling limbs / trees, etc.) Even if not staying in the shelter, the general area is usually a convenient place to camp for those reasons.

    Minuses:
    Overused areas, sometimes dirty, unkempt shelters and privies, mice and other scavengers, hard cold floor/surface. Can be overcrowded (sometimes very overcrowded).

    It depends: On the number and personal character of any other hikers present, the general condition and location of the shelter (shelters near roads often attract non-hiking parties and folks you're better off not being around.) What is your style? If you're a loner, probably better to camp at least a small distance away. Often you can stop and have dinner, and then hike on 15 minutes to half-hour to be clear of the area and get away from the shelter crowd. If you like company, sometimes you can meet some wonderful folks and make lifelong friends.
    I was self employed once, but it proved too stressful. My boss was a jerk and my employee was a slacker - I didn't know whether to quit or fire myself.

  10. #10
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    Default

    In my experience the shelters were pretty popular early on (April-early May) and in most cases would fill up early. Some of those spring storms can be pretty vicious and while you may be a bit warmer in your tent you will be dry in the shelter. I also noticed that most shelter dwellers were also early risers, you don't really have to "break camp" when departing, just stuff your sleeping bag and pad and load up and go. Tents require a bit more care and time especially if they get wet, I always at least wiped my (wet tent) down with a camp towel before stuffing it and get going, always seemed to be an extra 10-15 minute project. As the trail rolls along and the temps rise you start dealing with more and more bugs and the shelters really lose their allure as getting your face eaten by mosquitoes isn't very pleasant. There are definitely times that a shelter can come in handy, you will just learn this as you go.

  11. #11
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    Default Great videos, thanks

    [QUOTE=Miguelon;2125466]

    Hey, Migulon thanks for the link I love the Craig M videos.

    I learned a lot by watching videos.

    Craig M's videos are beautiful.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eQA...gDfdcJmBe9y31n

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