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  1. #1
    Registered User beas's Avatar
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    Default what to do about the smokies

    Me and several others are doing a section hike from Franklin to the eastern side of the Smokies. Not enough milage on the east side to be called a thru hiker by definition for the National Park Service. The shelters we have planned out have some issues with being already reserved and some are not. We can't get around the ones already full.
    Does the thru hiker title only stand from April 1 - June 1 as I have read? Can we just fill out the permit on the western side and claim to be going all the way to virginia and stay outside the shelters that are full?
    What is the best advice that is somewhat the right thing to do. We have planned this trip for over a year the first trip was postponed due to death in the family.
    thanks
    BEAS

    "Maintain a Rigid State of Maximum Flexibility"

  2. #2
    Registered User jorhawle's Avatar
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    When are you leaving? If you will be in the Smokies on a weekend, yes the shelters may be full. But even if they are telling you that they will be full on a weekday...I would take a gamble. Generally there are a large amount of hikers that don't show up to fulfill their shelter request.

  3. #3
    Registered User beas's Avatar
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    I,ve already called and some are already full. I just dont want to get there and recieve a ticket from a ranger that was called by a ridgerunner for overcrowding. I am sure that there is a chance that we fill out the permit at Fontana and someone see that the shelters are full and follow up by finding us???? Not sure if that happens or not.
    thanks ahead of time.
    BEAS

    "Maintain a Rigid State of Maximum Flexibility"

  4. #4
    Registered User beas's Avatar
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    i failed to mention i would rather stay in my hammock outside the shelter. that was my hope is in the spring was to arrive late in the day and botabing botaboom outside i get to sleep.
    BEAS

    "Maintain a Rigid State of Maximum Flexibility"

  5. #5

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    The GSMNP is the worst section of the entire AT to hike.

    I think you know what the "right" thing to do is.

    Yeah, you can lie and claim to be going to VA and be an official "thru-hiker" as defined by the park. The park has the rules that it does as it is woefully overcrowded. And if everybody lied....

    I'd pick a different place to hike if it was me. I haven't been back to the AT in the park since my thru.

  6. #6
    Registered User Cannibal's Avatar
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    Get some maps beas. There are some very nice backcountry campgrounds not far off the AT. Much, much, much nicer than the shelters. Only disadvantage is you'll have to hike down to them and then back up in the morning. No restrictions on hammocks and usually right next to good water sources.
    Tomorrow might just be too late and today is just beginning.

  7. #7
    Registered User beas's Avatar
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    i know i know you are correct Max Patch. i just wanted to get this section done due to logistics it would be really easy to get done. my family lives in Seivier county.
    I more than likely will do the next 100 plus miles then flip back this spring to get the smokies during the thrus season when it will be easy to slide in wit them and stay outside the shelters due to the rush.
    BEAS

    "Maintain a Rigid State of Maximum Flexibility"

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cannibal View Post
    Get some maps beas. There are some very nice backcountry campgrounds not far off the AT. Much, much, much nicer than the shelters. Only disadvantage is you'll have to hike down to them and then back up in the morning. No restrictions on hammocks and usually right next to good water sources.
    I'll second that, when my buddy and I went through we stayed at I think at least two of the backcountry sites. You might be able to work it out that way, some are within 2 miles of the trail.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
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  9. #9

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    If it was Thruhiker season, just wait til it fills up then set up. If you are near any roads Fontana, Big Creek, Newfound, Clingmans etc. you run a greater risk of Rangers or Runners.

  10. #10

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    I was just in the Smokies on the AT last week. When I arrived I called and registered at all the shelters I thought I would use. The guy on the phone told me I got the last spot in the shelters. When I actually got to some of the shelters there was tons of extra room, and twice I was the only one there.

    I'd just take the chance and go. Worse case you sleep outside.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by beas View Post
    Does the thru hiker title only stand from April 1 - June 1 as I have read?
    No. That period, more or less, is when several shelter slots are held out for thruhikers. You can be a thru hiker anytime.

    Quote Originally Posted by beas View Post
    Can we just fill out the permit on the western side and claim to be going all the way to virginia and stay outside the shelters that are full?
    You could.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by sbbtool View Post

    I'd just take the chance and go. Worse case you sleep outside.
    Worse case is a $5,000 fine. Per person.

    Although, as a practical matter, budget a couple hundred dollars per person if caught and fined.

  13. #13
    Registered User jorhawle's Avatar
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    If you can plan your trip to not be staying in either Icewater Springs or Double Springs Gap I would about bet that you aren't going to have any troubles...LOL, of course I wouldn't be $5000 on it!!!

  14. #14
    walkin' in 2k12 humunuku's Avatar
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    I was talking to one of the ridgerunners a few months ago - he was saying that a bunch of "thru hikers" were still passing thru the park. He said there are a bunch of people saying that they are hiking the required distance before and after the park, but he said he thinks they are just saying that so they don't have to get a reservation. Didn't seem like he was going to lay down the law on them.

    How would they really know if you started hiking 100 miles before you got to the park and continued on another 100 miles (or whatever the requires distance is?)? Just say your thru hiking to damascus and go have fun.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by max patch View Post
    Although, as a practical matter, budget a couple hundred dollars per person if caught and fined.
    As a practical matter, having a thru hiker permit is all you need to be in compliance. As long as you don't camp outside a shelter that isn't full.

  16. #16
    Registered User beas's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input, I really hated to be dishonest. but dangit man this trips been put off once due to the death in my family now missing out on reservations by a day.
    We were gonna ride the thru crowd wave during this past spring. We are section hiking each year 100 plus miles at a wack.
    Like I said we may just skip this section till next spring and get on to Erwin this year not sure yet.
    Any other advice would be welcomed
    Thanks
    BEAS
    BEAS

    "Maintain a Rigid State of Maximum Flexibility"

  17. #17
    Registered User Doughnut's Avatar
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    Beas,
    I hiked the park last month, made reservations, however, I got with another group and we did not stick to the reservations.

    If you plan to hike say 12 miles, and end up only walking 8, what are they gonna do? Kick you out of the park for walking too slow? (ShuckStack KICKED MY BUTT!!!!) After that, i could either bust tail to get "back on schedule" or I could enjoy the park and enjoy my week.
    The other people planned 2 short days of 6 miles, and got ahead of schedule.

    I believe the intent is to limit the number of people along the most used portion of the park to attempt to limit human impact.

    I met a ridge runner and a hog hunter, both were extremely nice, the runner asked if we had permits, and that was it. Of course, I mentioned that someone had left trash at the previous shelter and I was carrying it out.

    DoughNut

  18. #18

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    I've heard of time limits for thru-hikers through GSMNP, but I've never seen it in writing; if a park employee told me there was a time limit I would ask to see it in writing. The reason is, govt employees are notorious for not knowing the regulations, many just work off word-of-mouth.

    Since their use of thru-hiker is in respect to GSMNP and not the AT, is just more of a reason I can't see why they would place a time limit.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post
    I've heard of time limits for thru-hikers through GSMNP, but I've never seen it in writing.
    I have seen it in writing; the limit is seven days. There is also a rule that says the permit is invalidated if the hiker leaves the AT. So, technically, every "thru hiker" that goes to Gatlinburg is in violation if they return to the trail on their original permit. Practically, the NPS "looks the other way" on that issue.

    Remember, you are dealing with the government. It's all about bureacracy and paperwork. Have the paperwork in order and you will have nothing to worry about.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by humunuku View Post
    How would they really know if you started hiking 100 miles before you got to the park and continued on another 100 miles (or whatever the requires distance is?)? Just say your thru hiking to damascus and go have fun.
    In my case, they might figure it out by my truck being parked at Big Creek Ranger Station for a week. This is the suggestion of my shuttle and the backcountry info office due to vandalism at the trailhead and at I-40. I'm hoping and praying that there's some overcrowding so I can politely give up my spot in the shelter and tent!

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