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  1. #1

    Default Overcrowded Shelters

    I am planning on starting my Thru-hike in the beginning of April and I was wondering if there is any advise as far as avoiding over crowded shelters? Or is if there is ample space around most shelter for the first few weeks to setup tents if they are full, or is this frowned upon?

  2. #2
    Stir Fry
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    All have more then enoush space to set up tents. Expect shelters to be full unless you get into camp early.
    If it do'nt eat you or kill you it makes you stronger
    'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

  3. #3
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Avoid shelters.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
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    NO SNIVELING

  4. #4

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    I was at Hawk Mountain Thurs night, and there were about 30 of us there. Gooch Mountain the next night was around 40. Be sure you have something else to sleep, and that you're not counting on shelter space!

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  5. #5
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    Starting a thru hike the first of April you will become very familiar with the term "where's the hiker bubble?". It can be a curse or a blessing.

    Good luck.

  6. #6

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    I also plan to thru this year, starting the 28th. I wonder when or how far north before the shelters are not crazy full all the time? I'm sure eventually some nights will be totally full still but can I expect the shelters to not be full at some point?

  7. #7
    PCT 2013, most of AT 2011, rest of AT 2014
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    I remember the shelters being full or close to full up til southern VA, with only a few exceptions (started April 3 NOBO last year). After that, there are a lot of variables that dictate shelter crowdedness, like where the hiker bubbles are, what day of the week it is, how close to the road the shelter is, did the weather just get nice and call hordes of people to the woods, etc.

    It's very easy to find camping solitude if that's what you want. My first night, I passed up Hawk Mtn. Shelter because there were going to be about 40 or 50 people at it, and I managed to camp alone on top of Justus Mtn. a few miles later. As long as you have enough water for dinner and breakfast, you can dry camp almost anywhere, especially in the South where the trail is more heavily traveled and there are more existing tentsites that aren't in any of the guidebooks.

    There is ample space around many of the shelters, not necessarily all of them, for tenting.
    "Hahk your own hahk." - Ron Haven

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  8. #8
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    Spent this past Saturday night tenting at Plumborchard Gap Shelter area. There were NO thrus there that night. Just me and 5 section hikers. Go figure? It's just hit or miss. The thrus must have been in Hiawassee partying it up Saturday night.

  9. #9
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    Why people want to go out into the mountains and then cram themselves into a small room with a bunch of people ?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry7 View Post
    Why people want to go out into the mountains and then cram themselves into a small room with a bunch of people ?
    Hmmmm........ Because they're wet, shivering, and too lazy to set up a tent?

  11. #11

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    Since the shelters are often near the water supply, I often will stop to cook my evening meal around 5 or 6 and socialize a little, then put the pack back on, carry a litre or two out of there and walk another few miles.
    This serves a few purposes:
    Get's me camping away from the bears and mice, where it's quiet (all night long) (no smell of food cooking to chum the animals in either)
    and not damp (camping near a stream or water source is usually where the dew generates)
    I often get to camp at a viewpoint or high up.
    Also this is the time of day when you are more apt to see wildlife on the trail.

    I usually figure on a half litre of water during the night and a cupful for coffee in the morning and have some left for the first 5 miles or so.

    Works for me.
    Nobody complains if I have a beer, a smoke, or play my guitar either.
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  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry7 View Post
    Why people want to go out into the mountains and then cram themselves into a small room with a bunch of people ?
    Well spoken!

    I'll hazard a guess - maybe most of them aren't real comfortable being in the "wilderness" alone, or are more interested in the spirit of adventure than a pursuit of "fellowship with the wilderness" as was spoken of by Benton MacKaye.

    Many young folks like to party. Parties are more fun if you're not alone.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  13. #13

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    most first time AT thruhikers have never hiked before, let alone backpacking. so i would say they are not comfortable being alone in them there hills
    Last edited by CrumbSnatcher; 03-13-2012 at 15:48.

  14. #14
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    I heard that from a number of people down at Amicalola a couple of weekends back. Some people need the social scene to have fun. Some people need it to just be out there.

    The truth is if you don't need it or especially if you don't want it, the AT is probably not where you should be hiking in Spring. The BMT is a much better alternative if you want to skip all the crowds and drama.
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
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    NO SNIVELING

  15. #15

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    If you like sleeping in a shelter, it's pretty easy to get a spot if you finishing hiking at 3 or 4PM.
    Order your copy of the Appalachian Trail Passport at www.ATPassport.com

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  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock View Post
    Avoid shelters.
    Always listen to your Sgt! That's my plan Sarge...will be hanging in my Dangerbird.

    Miguel From HFs

  17. #17
    Registered User louisb's Avatar
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    Parties are more fun if you're not alone.
    I drink alone...


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  18. #18
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    There are 3 main personality types and I've observed the traits typically carry over well to thru hikers "shelter" preferences.

    Consider this:

    Extroverts (Shelter People)- Extraverts tend to enjoy human interactions and to be enthusiastic, talkative, assertive, and gregarious.

    Introverts- (Tent People)- Introverts are likely to enjoy time spent alone and find less reward in time spent with large groups of people, though they may enjoy interactions with close friends. They are easily overwhelmed by too much stimulation from social gatherings and engagement.

    Ambiverts (Shelter or Tent People)- Ambiverts are normally comfortable with groups and enjoy social interaction, but also relishes time alone and away from the crowd.
    Last edited by Spokes; 03-13-2012 at 12:40.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrumbSnatcher View Post
    most first time AT thruhikers have never hiked before, let alone backpacking. so i would say they are not comfortable being alone in then there hills
    I've read a lot of BS on this forum, but that out-BSes all of them. I met TWO PEOPLE out of hundreds last year who had never backpacked before attempting their thru-hike. This is the type of grumpy-old-man-looking-down-his-nose-at-everyone-else garbage that can make WhiteBlaze so infuriating. The question was "Can I avoid overcrowded shelters and, if so, when?" and this is your answer? Great.
    "Hahk your own hahk." - Ron Haven

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  20. #20

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    Regardless of the conditions, except for torrential rain, I found it was just easier to stay in my tent. I could set it up and break it down as fast or faster than staying in shelter, especially if I wasn't the first one up. If you're not the first up in a shelter things become hectic. You also have room to spread your gear if you want and don't have to worry about snoring or snorers, smoking or cigarette smoke, farting or farters. And if you're lucky you have a better chance of getting lucky.

    IMO, it's best to hit a shelter, get your water and maybe eat then or move on a mile or so. If you have topo maps you can better recognize where there'll be tenting possibilities. Camping alone, or with a couple others, is so much better than being at a crowded shelter.

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