Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 36
  1. #1
    Registered User wolfywolfy's Avatar
    Join Date
    06-02-2017
    Location
    middle of nowhere, North Carolina
    Age
    54
    Posts
    64
    Images
    2

    Default The What if? shelter closures

    I am planning a section hike this year in the Smokies. I am wondering If I have a reservation lets just say on a Tuesday night and they close the shelter I have reservations for what am I supposed to do for that night.
    I would not reservations for the next shelter and possibly if arriving at say 6-7pm would not be able to hike that much further (say another 12 miles as I hike about 1.5 mph)
    The instructions on the permit and reservation site really do not tell you what to do if they close it only that you will get an email/text and that you are expected to stay at your reserved spot on said nights.

  2. #2

    Default

    Seems like a question for the forest rangers.

    In general, it's a good idea to go always include an emergency shelter in your pack, even just a Mylar bivy, in case you or someone in your party are injured and have to wait for rescue.

  3. #3

    Default

    The only reason a shelter would be closed would be for bear activity and that you should be aware of before you leave.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  4. #4
    GSMNP 900 Miler
    Join Date
    02-25-2007
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Age
    53
    Posts
    4,400
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    5

    Default

    I'm afraid the rules are pretty simple... The official policy is that you can only camp at designated sites and you can only camp with a reservation. If a site on your itinerary becomes closed, the rangers will work with you to adjust your reservations... including allowing you to cancel your trip and be issued a refund {one of the few ways to get a refund on your camping fees}.

    However, your third sentence seems to suggest your specific question is along the lines of "What do I do if they close a site on my itinerary AFTER I've started my hike and I don't find out until I get to the closed campsite?".
    There is no official policy for this type of situation, but based on my interactions with park rangers, the overriding priority is safety. You are unlikely to get in trouble if my make a sincere effort to follow park regulations, yet go outside of them for your safety.

  5. #5

    Default

    Make a best effort to sleep in the shelter you are permitted to sleep in. Carry a tent/hammock/tarp/bivy or whatever you need and then find a cozy place near some trees if plan A did not work, regardless of the reason. You canít anticipate everything that may happen.

  6. #6
    GSMNP 900 Miler
    Join Date
    02-25-2007
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Age
    53
    Posts
    4,400
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    5

    Default

    Your question seems to suggest that you're only hiking the AT thru GSMNP and only plan to stay at shelters.
    I'm going to jump on the band-wagon of those suggesting you also carry some sort of shelter in case you are unable to sleep in a shelter on some given night.

    First is the obvious reason that you could become injured and unable to make it to the next shelter.

    The next is that you might arrive at a shelter and find it full.
    Reasons can include people camping without permits, people who are "off sequence" (planned for more mileage per day that they were able to do), or AT thru hikers who are supposed to give up their spot in a shelter to a hiker with a reservation (but doesn't want to because it's raining).
    I've asked rangers about this type situation and their attitude is that "it can't happen... you have a reservation for the shelter".
    But these are all reasons you might get to a shelter and be unable to sleep in the shelter. In that case, you need to be able to setup shelter near by, and be ready to explain to a ranger the reason for staying outside the shelter should one come around.

  7. #7
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
    Join Date
    12-13-2004
    Location
    Essex, Vermont
    Age
    64
    Posts
    2,332

    Default

    I've seen a few shelters burn down over the years. Always carry your own shelter.

  8. #8

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    I've seen a few shelters burn down over the years. Always carry your own shelter.
    We're talking Smokie mountains here. It would take some serious effort to burn one of those down. At best maybe you could char the sleeping platform a little.

    If you can't make it to your designated shelter, you'd best have a damn good reason - like two broken legs and a concussion.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  9. #9
    GSMNP 900 Miler
    Join Date
    02-25-2007
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Age
    53
    Posts
    4,400
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    I've seen a few shelters burn down over the years. Always carry your own shelter.
    While not impossible, it's extremely unlikely for a GSMNP shelter to burn down. The walls are stone and the roof is tin. Only the sleeping platforms, rafters and cooking/eating area tables are wood.
    Add to that, GSMNP is so humid that even forest fires are extremely rare (the fire of 2016 during EXTREME drought conditions being a notable exception).

    However, it's VERY COMMON for the LeConte and AT shelters to be closed due to bear activity during the warmer months. I would estimate that on average, there is always one shelter closed due to bear activity between Memorial Day and Halloween.

    So unless you're doing the AT thru GSMNP on a thru hiker permit during the Spring bubble, you have to expect that at least one of the shelters will be closed during a section hike of the AT thru GSMNP.

  10. #10

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    If you can't make it to your designated shelter, you'd best have a damn good reason - like two broken legs and a concussion.
    It happens all the time. Itís usually just inexperience. People carry too much weight, are out of shape, planned too many miles, etc.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    08-14-2017
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Age
    54
    Posts
    103

    Default

    You should check the gsmnp closure page just before you leave and make sure your shelters are open. You should also get an email if they do close one. If they do close one, you'll need to call the reservation office and make alternate plans. They should allow you to make changes, or refund your money.

    The advise to carry a Tarp or tent is good. Especially if you are hiking during the AT bubble. The thru hikers get a general permit that allows them to stay at any shelter, and they don't show up as a space taken on the reservation page. They are supposed to give up their spot to anyone with a reservation, but are you the kind of person to start asking to see reservations and insisting someone leave the shelter to make room for you? If you roll in late there is a possibility the spots are already claimed. First thing I do at any shelter is roll out my pad and stake my claim. In a full shelter, I'd rather set up my tent nearby and let a ranger deal with the issue of one shows up.

  12. #12
    John B's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-04-2005
    Location
    .......................
    Age
    59
    Posts
    1,302

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Deadeye View Post
    I've seen a few shelters burn down over the years. Always carry your own shelter.
    I agree about always carrying a tent or whatever shelter is your preference, but what shelters have burned on the AT?

  13. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-19-2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    3,225
    Images
    3

    Default

    The only reason a shelter would be closed would be for bear activity and that you should be aware of before you leave.



    that is not true.....

    they have closed shelters down for other reasons-----for example, about 12-15 years ago, they closed a shelter down for an entire month so that one of the trail groups could use it for a base of operation when they were doing work in that area............

    i hiked by it and saw how they had it set up (with a car camping propane two burner stove, a fence around the cooking area, and a oujia board).......

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-19-2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    3,225
    Images
    3

    Default

    Add to that, GSMNP is so humid that even forest fires are extremely rare

    there's about one or two a year it seems on average....

    most are reported (at least by us) because they are either small or don't affect people....

    most of these are ones that the park just keeps a watch on to see how they spread and it they are natural and all that....

    and for the most part, if they dont affect people and arent spreading too much---the Park just lets them burn out naturally....

  15. #15
    GSMNP 900 Miler
    Join Date
    02-25-2007
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Age
    53
    Posts
    4,400
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    there's about one or two a year it seems on average....

    most are reported (at least by us) because they are either small or don't affect people....

    most of these are ones that the park just keeps a watch on to see how they spread and it they are natural and all that....

    and for the most part, if they dont affect people and arent spreading too much---the Park just lets them burn out naturally....
    I knew the park occasionally did controlled burns... and now that you mention it, I recall a few news stories over the years about some relatively small fires. But didn't realize they occurred with that much frequency.

    However, a google search quickly finds one of the larger fires... a 10 acre fire in 2014. Like you say, the park service watched the fire and allowed it to burn. But the news article I found points out another reason these fires are allowed to burn... in this case, the fire spreading thru a Table Mountain Pine stand, and these trees "need periodic disturbances for seedling establishment".

  16. #16
    GSMNP 900 Miler
    Join Date
    02-25-2007
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Age
    53
    Posts
    4,400
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    that is not true.....

    they have closed shelters down for other reasons-----for example, about 12-15 years ago, they closed a shelter down for an entire month so that one of the trail groups could use it for a base of operation when they were doing work in that area............

    i hiked by it and saw how they had it set up (with a car camping propane two burner stove, a fence around the cooking area, and a oujia board).......
    Not a shelter, but I saw a similar setup in the Deep Creek area last year where they had taken over an entire campsite for tail maintenance. It was funny seeing weed-whackers hanging from the bear cables.

  17. #17

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    that is not true.....

    they have closed shelters down for other reasons-----for example, about 12-15 years ago, they closed a shelter down for an entire month so that one of the trail groups could use it for a base of operation when they were doing work in that area............

    i hiked by it and saw how they had it set up (with a car camping propane two burner stove, a fence around the cooking area, and a oujia board).......
    Well, in a case like that they wouldn't issue a permit for that shelter in the first place. I stand by my comment that the only reason a shelter might close between the time your issued your permit and the time of the hike would be if it was suddenly closed for bear activity reasons. While it might be possible that could happen while your on the trail and before you get to that shelter, it's unlikely.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  18. #18
    Registered User
    Join Date
    07-21-2005
    Location
    Garner, NC
    Age
    54
    Posts
    594
    Images
    279

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by wolfywolfy View Post
    I am planning a section hike this year in the Smokies. I am wondering If I have a reservation lets just say on a Tuesday night and they close the shelter I have reservations for what am I supposed to do for that night.
    I would not reservations for the next shelter and possibly if arriving at say 6-7pm would not be able to hike that much further (say another 12 miles as I hike about 1.5 mph)
    The instructions on the permit and reservation site really do not tell you what to do if they close it only that you will get an email/text and that you are expected to stay at your reserved spot on said nights.
    I had this exact scenario.

    Was hiking south from Newfound Gap to Fontana Dam. They had tried to call me, but I had a different cell phone than I had used for reservations and the signal on trail was bad anyway. The closure was actually at the campsite 5 miles north of Fontana Dam. I found out the day before the night I would have camped at the closed campsite. The campsite had closed due to bear activity.

    When I talked on the phone, we agreed I would go to Russell Field shelter (2.9 miles past the original planned Spence Field shelter) and the next day reach Fontana Dam, completely skipping the campsite.

    I could have requested a $4 refund because I was in the park one less night, but I didn't bother.

    If I had changed plans due to a closed shelter and had not been able to be in touch with the reservation office, I'm sure they would have let me slide on having used my best judgement.

    I would have had a tent anyway, because there is always a chance of a sprained ankle keeping me from making my reserved shelter.

  19. #19
    GSMNP 900 Miler
    Join Date
    02-25-2007
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Age
    53
    Posts
    4,400
    Journal Entries
    1
    Images
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Well, in a case like that they wouldn't issue a permit for that shelter in the first place. I stand by my comment that the only reason a shelter might close between the time your issued your permit and the time of the hike would be if it was suddenly closed for bear activity reasons. While it might be possible that could happen while your on the trail and before you get to that shelter, it's unlikely.
    Shelter closures due to bear activity happen suddenly and often without warning. So if you're on a multi-day hike, it can easily happen.
    However, the bigger point to make is that since you don't want to be trying to camp at a closed campsite (after all, they've closed it for safety reasons), hikers need to make sure they've checked the closure notifications just before they enter the back country and not rely on the NPS contacting you. If you still have a cell signal, you can check the GSMNP Temporary Closures web page just before you enter the park. If you don't, there are several places where the closures are posted, including ranger stations, visitors centers.

  20. #20
    Registered User
    Join Date
    12-19-2005
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    3,225
    Images
    3

    Default

    But the news article I found points out another reason these fires are allowed to burn.


    yes...

    i did not list all the reasons......

    i just gave a couple of examples, as the Park has a protocol they use to determine which to burn and which to put out...


    i didnt read through this but here ya go...


    https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/foia/upl...Section508.pdf

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
++ New Posts ++

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •