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  1. #1

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    Question Wise Shelter

    My family and I are planning a short section hike over Thanksgiving weekend next week. I called Grayson Highlands State Park today to ask about cabins (none) and parking. In the course of the conversation, I was told something I'd never heard--

    Wise Shelter is ONLY for "thru-hikers" and my family can't use it!

    At least, this is what the lady who answered the phone at Grayson Highlands State Park advised me today.

    Anyone have any background or information on such a rule? Just curious.

    P.S. We plan to hike from Wise to Partnership, Friday to Sunday, in case anyone has any trail conditions to share or suggestions. We do know it's the height of hunting season.

    RainMan

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  2. #2
    Registered User sbennett's Avatar
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    wow, the only restriction about Wise Shelter that I know is that you aren't allowed to tent outside of it...never heard of the "only thru hiker" thing
    "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live."

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  3. #3
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    that rule is BS. no signs stating it at the shelter

  4. #4
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    I have never seen anything like that at GHSP, and I've been there probably a hundred times in the last 15 years. We stay at or near Wise all the time. Note that tent camping is not allowed at the shelter.

    If you prefer to camp, keep going nobo about 1/4 past the shelter, cross a little bridge over a creek, and climb up 10 feet out of the creek and into a meadow. Look left for dozens of great camp sites.

    Grayson to Partnership is a nice section. Great views over Stone Mountain. Old Orchard shelter has some nice tent sites out front. Hurricane shelter is new, and I think there are some tent sites by the creek there. Trimpi shelter has some good camp sites, too. Water should be fine the whole way. The only climb of note is probably Iron Mountain.

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  5. #5

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    I hiked that section in September this year, and it's a nice section. Will you be going down the Seed Orchard Trail, to get to the AT from Grayson Highlands Park? If you do, be prepared to ford about 3 creeks before running into the AT. I was very careful, and didn't slip and get water in my boots, and the Gore-tex held up, so I was lucky. Also, the trail signs are not very good when you are approaching the AT there.
    The new Hurricane Shelter is very nice. It's up on top of a rise in a pretty place. I saw a black bear there at that shelter when I was there. There are no bear cables, so be cautious with your food and pack. Just past that shelter, not too far, is a nice falls on the right, near a bridge.
    Have a good trip.

  6. #6

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    Don't nobody need to stay in no stinkin' rat-infested shelter no way.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    I have seen the advisory not to camp around the shelter, but I've never seen anything saying it's for thru-hikers only. That's absurd.

    That said, it's a small shelter, and popular, so you probably should rely on getting space in it.

    There's a really nice campsite just on the other side of a line of trees away from Wise Shelter. You get a nice view of the night sky.
    If not NOW, then WHEN?

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    Registered User Big Dawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post

    Wise Shelter is ONLY for "thru-hikers" and my family can't use it!

    At least, this is what the lady who answered the phone at Grayson Highlands State Park advised me today.

    Anyone have any background or information on such a rule? Just curious.

    .
    sounds like a newbie secretary who doesn't know any better,,,,, that's absurd.

  9. #9
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    Stopped here for lunch on 7/29/2010 after coming up from Old Orchard. The place was a mess. There were food wrappers everywhere. I picked up what I could.

    Also the spring near the shelter was barely flowing, drop by drop.
    I looked for water in the nearby creeks, but the water had a reddish tent. I assumed it was from a high level of iron in the rocks in the creek. Anyone have a clue? I chose to pass on this water too, even with boiling or chemical treatment.

    The one big plus is that now all the blueberries around the shelter are ripe for the picking. I spent too much time picking them here and at The Scales grabbing a dessert for lunch. I almost stayed to make blueberry tea, but a storm was coming in so I left.

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    Updating this thread to note that the Grayson Highlands State Park staff are STILL informing hikers that Wise Shelter is for thru-hikers only. I planned a 2 night/3 day loop using Old Orchard and Wise Shelters, parking at the state park backpacker lot (with reservations). I stopped at the park office when I arrived to pick up my backpacker lot pass and was told by the woman working there that Wise Shelter is only for thru-hikers. I said "Even at this time of year?" (it was mid-February) and she said yes.

    This really ticks me off. It is inconsistent with the first-come / first-serve policy at shelters across the AT. Thru hikers should NEVER receive special treatment. I received a survey from the state park reservation system and complained about this policy with them. Hopefully they will wake up and rectify this ridiculous practice. I don't have a problem with the rules not allowing camping around the shelter within the state park boundary - there are plenty of tent sites just to the north once you leave the state park but the shelter policy has to change.

    For what it's worth, there are no signs at the shelter informing hikers of the thru-hiker only policy.

  11. #11
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    she may be new and she's very wrong and you're right. thru-hikers are below section hikers in my book. nothing special about them

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lone Wolf View Post
    she may be new and she's very wrong and you're right. thru-hikers are below section hikers in my book. nothing special about them
    I remember a time when you thought it was a big deal when someone had not hiked the whole trail... Like me....

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by fudgefoot View Post
    Updating this thread to note that the Grayson Highlands State Park staff are STILL informing hikers that Wise Shelter is for thru-hikers only. I planned a 2 night/3 day loop using Old Orchard and Wise Shelters, parking at the state park backpacker lot (with reservations). I stopped at the park office when I arrived to pick up my backpacker lot pass and was told by the woman working there that Wise Shelter is only for thru-hikers. I said "Even at this time of year?" (it was mid-February) and she said yes.

    This really ticks me off. It is inconsistent with the first-come / first-serve policy at shelters across the AT. Thru hikers should NEVER receive special treatment. I received a survey from the state park reservation system and complained about this policy with them. Hopefully they will wake up and rectify this ridiculous practice. I don't have a problem with the rules not allowing camping around the shelter within the state park boundary - there are plenty of tent sites just to the north once you leave the state park but the shelter policy has to change.

    For what it's worth, there are no signs at the shelter informing hikers of the thru-hiker only policy.
    I'm having a surprisingly hard time finding any official information about Wise Shelter online, however I might suggest calling again and asking them their official definition of "thru hiker" as the park's definition may have nothing to do with how we use it in the long distance community.

    Just as an example, P.A. game lands have several "through hiker" only privileges, however their definition of who qualifies is " (4) Through hikers—Persons walking the trail from a beginning area to an exit area on the trail which is not the place of beginning." Similarly, Delaware water gap national recreation area only allows "through hikers" to camp overnight in the park however their definition of through hiker is roughly anyone who is hiking through the park (aka not out and back) and is camping for at least two consecutive nights on their trip. I wouldn't be surprised if something similar is going on in this case.
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  14. #14
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    @Sarcasm the elf- good info - thank you
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  15. #15
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    They don't have a special definition of thru-hiker. The park official knew exactly what type hike I was doing because I reviewed my entire itinerary with her. She was very clear that according to the park policy, I was not allowed to spend the night in the shelter.

    I'm hoping the complaint I made about it through the backpacker parking reservation system will do some good but I doubt it. I thought about complaining to the ATC to see if they can exert some influence but decided not to. GHSP has been using this policy with hikers for at least 15 years now (see date of Rain Man's first post in the thread). The policy is indefensible. If the park doesn't allow camping within it's limits except for the designated campground and thru-hikers at Wise Shelter, they are already making an exception for thru-hikers. It makes no sense to extend this exception to thru-hikers but not other backpackers. We should not be treated like second class citizens. It violates the ethos of the trail.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by fudgefoot View Post
    They don't have a special definition of thru-hiker. The park official knew exactly what type hike I was doing because I reviewed my entire itinerary with her. She was very clear that according to the park policy, I was not allowed to spend the night in the shelter.

    I'm hoping the complaint I made about it through the backpacker parking reservation system will do some good but I doubt it. I thought about complaining to the ATC to see if they can exert some influence but decided not to. GHSP has been using this policy with hikers for at least 15 years now (see date of Rain Man's first post in the thread). The policy is indefensible. If the park doesn't allow camping within it's limits except for the designated campground and thru-hikers at Wise Shelter, they are already making an exception for thru-hikers. It makes no sense to extend this exception to thru-hikers but not other backpackers. We should not be treated like second class citizens. It violates the ethos of the trail.
    If that is the case then I would suggest reaching out to the ATC as well. I didn't see any mention of a use restriction on their website or in the ATC/ALDHA thru hiker companion and if the park staff is trying to restrict use by section hikers then I'm sure both the ATC and ALDHA would like to know about it.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  17. #17

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    Do they maintain the shelter?

    I may be wrong but I suspect they don't want to have anything to do with the AT or the shelter and are hands off when it comes to the shelter along with its associated "weekend warrior" hassles. A good lie works for the weekend warriors as well as section hikers. Seems like to use the lot overnight, you must stay in one of their campsites. They don't want to deal with AT users in their parking lot. If a thru hiker (who started in GA) asked to park there, I suspect they would send them to an AT trailhead lot. For those who might not be aware some thrus do hike with a car. My year Circuit Rider and Ulysses hiked a portion of their thru hike using the one car method.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    If that is the case then I would suggest reaching out to the ATC as well. I didn't see any mention of a use restriction on their website or in the ATC/ALDHA thru hiker companion and if the park staff is trying to restrict use by section hikers then I'm sure both the ATC and ALDHA would like to know about it.
    As a partner with the NPS in managing the trail they have a say in the matter, just like Baxter SP does.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarcasm the elf View Post
    If that is the case then I would suggest reaching out to the ATC as well. I didn't see any mention of a use restriction on their website or in the ATC/ALDHA thru hiker companion and if the park staff is trying to restrict use by section hikers then I'm sure both the ATC and ALDHA would like to know about it.
    Ok - you talked me into it. I sent a note to the ATC asking if they could help get the policy revised. Will keep you posted with any updates.

  20. #20
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    If they want to be like that then next time just say you are thru hiking, just using a vehicle to help slack pack this section.
    NoDoz
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