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  1. #1
    Registered User Father Dragon's Avatar
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    :banana GSMNP permits/thru hiker classification

    I'm planning a LDH from Allen Gap to Fontana for the dates of Dec -27 through Jan 8-ish. I know to be classified as a thru-hiker you have to start/end 50 miles from the park Are they going to really know if you only start 50 miles out and finish at the end of the park? I don't like the *have to be here on this date* approach to hiking.

  2. #2
    Section Hiker - 339.8 miles - I'm gettin' there! papa john's Avatar
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    They won't know if you don't tell them.
    Papa John


  3. #3
    Registered User Grumpy's Avatar
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    As papa john said, they won't know but you will. Integrity is like virginity, you can only lose it once. More importantly the reasons they do it is upkeep and care for a great national resource. As always, HYOH and enjoy. Grumpy

  4. #4
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    i wouldn't worry...

  5. #5
    Registered User mts4602's Avatar
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    Someone did say on here before that they thought you could only register as a thru hiker between certain dates such as march to ??.

    I don't know the truth of that so maybe you should call the backcountry office and ask them.

  6. #6
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    The reason for the thru hiker exception is because they don't know when they will be where. The longer you are in the woods the more off schedule you can get. If you are starting in Allen gap then I think you fall into that category. Just write thru hiker on the registration. Don't worry about where you finish. Look at it this way, a lot of people quit in Gatlinburg, or just outside the Smokies. They didn't hike 50 miles past the Smokies either.

  7. #7
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    I have always just put "Mollies Ridge" then NOBO on the registration and have been stopped a couple times and never had a problem.

  8. #8

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    Weather will be your biggest factor in determining your stop points for each day during Dec and Jan. It could be 50 or 60 degrees and sunny so maintaining your schedule will be no problem. However it could be 20 degrees and snowing with a 30 to 40 mph wind and you will be hard pressed to stay on schedule. I would not worry about it either way; last Jan during my hike thru the GSMNP the max number of people in any shelter was five (two nights I was alone) and I never saw a park ranger for my entire hike. Just put your best guess for your schedule and then go enjoy some beautiful scenery.

  9. #9
    Can you dig it?
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    Default sno

    there is currently 8 inches of snow on Tricorner. There was no one on the trail last week and you shouldn't have a problem. Why not just get reservations and try to make it? If you don't then you don't and no worries right? It would be better then if there is an emergency.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Dragon View Post
    I'm planning a LDH from Allen Gap to Fontana for the dates of Dec -27 through Jan 8-ish. I know to be classified as a thru-hiker you have to start/end 50 miles from the park
    Plan on going all the way to Springer Mtn. Then alter your plans when you reach Fontana. It's all in the planning. And remember, indecision is the key to flexibility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Father Dragon View Post
    Are they going to really know if you only start 50 miles out and finish at the end of the park?
    The odds of encountering one of "them" is extremely low. And "they" won't know anything except what you tell them. Just make sure your paperwork is in good order.

  11. #11
    Section Hiker - 339.8 miles - I'm gettin' there! papa john's Avatar
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    I had the pleasure of meeting the trailrunner on the second day. He was an interesting guy to talk with. I mentioned to him that I had read his interview in the paper and questioned him about his job. He was very informative about the weather and water sources. Never asked about my permit (which I had and was in order). I was hiking with others who did not have permits and he didn't ask them anything about theirs either. The shelters weren't full any of the 3 nights I was in the park. Even Icewater Springs had room for a couple more people.
    Papa John


  12. #12
    Registered User mts4602's Avatar
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    So where do you fill out these permits for being classified as a thru hiker? Are they available for you to grab at Fontana? Big Creek Ranger Station?

  13. #13
    Section Hiker - 339.8 miles - I'm gettin' there! papa john's Avatar
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    Both. Or you can get them in Hot Springs at the outfitter there in town. Not sure, but I would think that Curtis at Standing Bear Farm would have them as well.
    Papa John


  14. #14
    Registered User edtheshark's Avatar
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    As everyone else has already said the permits and thru-hiker status aren't as important in the winter as they are in the summer. I've hiked in GSMNP the last 3 years after Christmas and only once came anywhere near a full shelter. The park wants to know who is up there in the backcountry, for safety reasons.... it would be a logistical nightmare to have a downed hiker above the treeline somewhere with heavy snow and not know in what general area they are at.
    I have never had a problem getting reservations for shelters after Christmas, you can call and reserve them (get the reservation#) and go to any ranger station or campground in the park (even the closed ones I've left from Elkmont twice) and fill out the paper.

  15. #15
    Registered User mts4602's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by edtheshark View Post
    As everyone else has already said the permits and thru-hiker status aren't as important in the winter as they are in the summer. I have never had a problem getting reservations for shelters after Christmas, you can call and reserve them.
    I don't think the concern is so much that reservations are available but that at You get to a shelter and feel as though you are done hiking for the day but your reservation says you must hike on to the next shelter. It's hard to plan where you are going to be at for 5 or 6 consecutive nights, especially when you've never hiked a particular section before.

  16. #16

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    By starting at Allen Gap rather than the more-convenient Hot Springs, you're complying with the 50 mile requirement on the front end (I should know - I did the same in '04). And who's to say that you won't go beyond Fontana? By then you'll be in fantastic shape. So unless you have a time constraint (little things like a job), plan on hiking to Winding Stair Gap. That will satisfy the 50 miles and will give you some great hiking.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Father Dragon View Post
    Are they going to really know if you only start 50 miles out and finish at the end of the park?
    A wise one once said:

    Reputation is what you do that folks know about.

    Character is what you do that no one's going to know about.

    What you do that no one is going to know about is entirely up to you. And no, they aren't going to know.

    RainMan

    .
    [I]ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit....[/I]. Numbers 35

    [url]www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker[/url]

    .

  18. #18
    Registered User Father Dragon's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input. I've decided to make reservations and have a concrete itinerary for safety reasons. I imagine if I get snowed in somewhere that the good people at GSMNP will forgive any tardiness in reaching my planned destinations... hopefully.
    it is strange that a man would put the pieces together as they please opposed to being content with where the pieces fall

  19. #19
    Registered User sasquatch2014's Avatar
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    One day not only will you have to register and have reservations but you may have to adhere to carry on luggage sizes and be ready for random luggage checks.

  20. #20
    Registered User Whiskyjo's Avatar
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    Just count down thirty days before entering the Park and call and make reservations because some of the easier to get to shelters can even fill up fast around the xmas holidays, Have fun

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