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  1. #1

    Default Hammock Camping in from Davenport Gap to Clingmans Dome in April/May 2011

    Me and a buddy are planning on section hiking from DP to CD sometime in April or May. I was wondering a few things:

    • Is it permitted or can you get away with hammock camping on this section of the trail?
    • Do you have to have a shelter permit if you aren't going to sleep at a shelter?
    • Anybody here stealth camped this section and gotten a ticket/fine? If so, how much? Any lessons learned would be nice to hear about.
    • What's the weather like at this time of year?
    • Does anyone have a preferred itinerary/places to camp on this route?


    Thanks for any responses I get.

    Beaudetious

  2. #2

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    Backpackers and hikers are subject to all Backcountry Rules and Regulations. Failure to abide by park regulations may subject you to a fine under Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations. Maximum fine for each violation is $5,000 and/or 6 months in jail.

    http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisi...ry-camping.htm

    maybe this will help

  3. #3
    Registered User kayak karl's Avatar
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    read the rules and then follow them. guarantee there will be ridge runners out there that time of year, but good luck on you illegal camping
    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

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    Could you post your itinerary please? It might help better accomodating your special needs.

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    You can also find camping rules on the back (front?) side of the trail map.
    http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisi...ntry%20Map.pdf

    Your key issue (in regards to following the rules) is that you can only camp at designated camp sites in the Smokies, and all the camp sites along your itenarary are at shelters.

    The general rule for shelters in the Smokies is that you can not pitch a tent by a shelter. Don't know if that would preclude a hammock. But even if a hammock is allowed, you would still need a reservation.

    As for the weather? You just never know. I've camped in the Smokies in the March/April time frame several times, but usually at lower elevations than on the ridge. I would expect weather to be generally plesent, chilly at night (at those upper elevations), with some rain expected from time to time.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by emerald View Post
    Could you post your itinerary please? It might help better accomodating your special needs.
    My initial plans were as follows:

    Day 1: Davenport Gap to Tri-Corner Knob Shelter (15.7 miles)
    Day 2: Tri-Corner Shelter to Icewater Spring Shelter (12.6 miles)
    Day 3: Icewater Spring Shelter to Clingmans Dome (10.6 miles)

    That's just the first glance approach and maybe the sanest. The bottom line is that I have 3 days and I want to either start or finish at Davenport Gap.

    I'm not flaunting the rules or anything (I know they are there for a reason). It's just that I love my hammock and would rather use that then stay in a shelter with mice.

    I'm just trying to figure out how I can hammock camp in the Smokies on the AT. Thanks for the advice so far.

    Beaudetious

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    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by beaudetious View Post
    ...I'm just trying to figure out how I can hammock camp in the Smokies on the AT...
    The published rules do not directly address your question.
    As specified in the "Rules and Regulations" on the Trail Maps:

    2. "Camping is permitted only at designated sites and shelters".
    7. "Use of tents at shelters is prohibited".

    To get an "official" answer to your question, you need to contact the park service. Try 865-436-1231 for the Back Country Reservation Office, or 865-436-1297 for Back Country Information.


    My personal option: There's nothing I've seen in the rules that prohibits the use of a hammock in the park, and nothing I've seen that REQUIRES you sleep IN the shelter when you have a shelter reservation. So if you ONLY hang a hammock, I don't see that you are breaking any rules, and can make that valid argument should you be approached by a ridge-runner. However, if you erect a tarp over the hammock, especially if it is staked to the ground, the argument could be made that such a setup is equivilent to a tent and therefore prohibited. It comes down to an interpretation of the rules.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    To get an "official" answer to your question, you need to contact the park service. Try 865-436-1231 for the Back Country Reservation Office, or 865-436-1297 for Back Country Information.
    Thanks for the advice. I just got off the phone with someone from the Back Country Info department and they said that section hikers are required to register for the shelters and they have to stay in a shelter. And if they are hammocking, they have to hang their hammock in the shelter.

    From what I gather, and I forgot to ask this, if the shelter is full (which I doubt will be the case during the time period I'm interested in), then we can spread out from the shelter but be within sight of it.

    Regarding the weather, she said that the weather in May is typically more hiker friendly that April. In April, their may still be snow on the ground and freezing temperatures on the ridge line.

    Arg! I appreciate the sentiments of the rules and regulations, and I understand that no all hikers follow LNT principles (or follow them well), but there's got to be some happy middle ground here where I can simply hike all day, stop at night near two trees and set up camp. No fire, no cooking, no litter. Just set up, sleep, wake up, tear down and go!

    If I wasn't so damn gung ho about hammock camping this probably wouldn't be an issue (to me). I've had some bad mice experience recently (shudder...) but maybe I'll give a shelter another try.

    Thanks and I'm still looking for you rascals out there to tell me how you got away with not following the rules to a T.

    Thanks,

    Beaudetious

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    Registered User Speer Carrier's Avatar
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    Four years ago I called the rangers in SMNP and asked about hammock camping. The guy with whom I spoke said "absolutely not"!

    Maybe he didn't know what he was talking about. Maybe things have changed.

    Never hurts to inquire again.

  10. #10

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    There are some Rangers that hunt only at night time, they be packing some really nice trumped up AR-15's.They are excellent trackers.Without a doubt they will spot you track you and maybe engage you iffin they get bored while hunting wild hogs and even then you will not hear them when they bust the cap on the hog.Just get your permit and do it to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beaudetious View Post
    I appreciate the sentiments of the rules and regulations, but there's got to be some happy middle ground where I can simply hike all day, stop at night near two trees and set up camp.
    There's not only a middle ground, but plenty of low ground and high ground too. All you need to do is go somewhere else where what you want to do is permitted.

    Quote Originally Posted by beaudetious View Post
    If I wasn't so damn gung ho about hammock camping this probably wouldn't be an issue. I've had some bad experience with mice recently, but maybe I'll give a shelter another try.
    Mice can climb down ropes suspending packs and can traverse ropes suspending hammocks too. I'm not aware that shelters are now being designed to accomodate hammocks and I'm not of a mind they ought to be.

    Keep in mind, squirrels are nothing but big mice that eat bigger seeds and climb trees. Some of them can even fly (glide). Maybe you should buy a house employing post and beam construction and set plenty of eye hooks and traps.

    You don't even want to hear about bears and pinatas.

    Quote Originally Posted by beaudetious View Post
    I'm still looking for you rascals out there to tell me how you got away with not following the rules.
    Good luck, that would violate the Terms of Service (TOS) you and they signed digitally when you registered.
    Last edited by emerald; 11-20-2010 at 23:30.

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    Tough for hammock lovers. They get the short end of the stick in this situation. I have to say, it this situation, there can be NO middle ground, no gray area, no exceptions. I hate it has to be this way but more and more I think its the only way. My evaluation of over 30 trees near icewater that had not just been cut for firewood, but wrecklessly hacked repeatidly by some unkown puke makes me afraid if there were any allowances. Although the current strict rules are infrequently enforced, they due deliver a heavy handed message which is necessary untill hikers, like me, suspend 'hike your own hike' for enough time to get up, approach the drunk person with the ax, and get them to stop. I dunno...

    Also, why start at davenport? the climb out is one of the longest in the south.

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    Of course if the shelter is full then you can camp outide the shelter.
    Hammock Hanger by choice

    Warbonnet BlackBird 1.7 dbl


    www.neusioktrail.org

    Bears love people, they say we taste just like chicken.

  14. #14

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    I would just avoid the AT. Plenty of other trails on which you can camp however you like (at campsites) without the hassle of shelters and the rules that come with them.

  15. #15

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    I agree with you except that I'm trying to section hike the AT which will take me 25 years at the rate I'm going (6 days a year). If I skip the AT to do other awesome hikes, then it'll take me even longer to complete the AT.

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    Stir Fry
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    I would go NB thats a big climb from Davanport gap alot easer and doable going down.

  17. #17

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    My head agrees but my knees don't. I'm putting this trip off until the Fall so I'll figure out what to do. I'd prefer to do the entire Smokies in one fell swoop but it's very hard for me to put together a week of off days and still stay married.

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    Quote Originally Posted by beaudetious View Post
    My head agrees but my knees don't. I'm putting this trip off until the Fall so I'll figure out what to do. I'd prefer to do the entire Smokies in one fell swoop but it's very hard for me to put together a week of off days and still stay married.

    I'm a Seasonal Park Ranger, working April through September. All overnight hikers have to have a permit, to stay in a shelter you need a reservation...no reservation, no can stay. That means if you try to make a reservation and the shelter is full, then you have to amend your hiking itinerary. I know it sounds not very hiker friendly, but please be aware that this park is the most visited park in the NPS system and the rules are there in an effort to lessen the impact on the land and to protect the wildlife (bears like to visit the shelters and at some point during the season many will be closed for that reason). BTW, April can have some killer weather at the elevations you'll be hiking. Enjoy your hike.
    "Just trying to keep life simple."

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