Nov 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm #1309459
oh the silly things we agonize over when we are bored
While you would think it would be more appropriate to ask this on Whiteblaze, I feel like the folks here will understand the origins of my question a little better. I'll be giving a thruhike of the AT a go in the spring, and I'm going back and forth on my shelter choice.
Option one- bug bivy/poncho tarp.
Option two- TT Notch
I'm leaning toward the Notch, because it is ridiculously awesome, but also because I feel like I will be less tempted to stay in town or rely on shelters with an easily pitched, roomy, dedicated shelter.
But, because I'm a hopeless nerd, the possibility of taking a pound of my baseweight is oh so tempting. This is supported by accounts of thruhikers saying they utilized AT shelters 99% of the time.
Do I really want to sleep in a shelter that often? Mice, snoring, and all the wonderful things that come with being with humans.
Any AT alum want to weigh in? This is sort of pointless because (A) I can just switch out at any point along the trail anyway and (B) it's only a pound…Nov 3, 2013 at 6:40 pm #2040974
Ben CBPL Member
I did several sections of the AT last year with my thru-hiking son. I bet you wind up sleeping in shelters most of the time. Its just a lot easier after long hiking days. The openness and large dry area can be pretty nice in rain. I think they are better on rainy nights than on fair weather nights. And you can use your bug bivy in there if the bugs are bad.
I do think you might run into full shelters if you're doing the typical NOBO trip starting in spring. And there are mice, but you get used to them.
I bet most hikers spend 9 out of 10 nights in the shelters. I would save the weight.
Have fun.Nov 3, 2013 at 7:38 pm #2041005
David MaxwellBPL Member
@davidmaxwellLocale: eastern, tn
Some like them, so don't. There are some who like to hike from shelter to shelter. But then the shelters start to control your hike. You might hit at shelter between 4-5 in the afternoon. Do you keep hiking or stay at the shelter? Also in bad weather the shelters will fill up fast. You might have to stop earlier in the day just to have a spot. At least up to Damascus it seems. The bubble gets bigger and bigger every year.
Section hiking or weekends I prefer to tarp. For a thru I would take a tarp tent of sorts. The southern AT gets a lot of rain in the spring.
It's my experience that the majority tent. You will see some set up by shelters. This can be good for water and some social time with other hikers. Then others will camp along the trail in some of the best tenting sites east of the Missouri River. .. I prefer tenting/tarping with the views. But I have also spent plenty of time camping near shelters.
Be flexible and enjoy your hike.Nov 3, 2013 at 8:39 pm #2041031
Jake DBPL Member
Only done the LT and sections of AT in NH/CT but shelters are damn convenient.. which is good and bad. It is really nice to pull into camp, throw your pad and quilt down and call it home. i've shown up early in the day and enjoyed the rest.. also got in too early and pushed it another 6mi to the next one.
Can always pack up the tarp/bivy in a flat rate box and have a friend send it to you if you decide you're not using the Notch enough?Nov 4, 2013 at 9:28 am #2041130
Yeah, I think I'll bring the notch along for convenience, and have the wife send me the bivy if I really feel like I'm not using the tent much. Thanks for the replies.Nov 5, 2013 at 6:53 am #2041383
Joe GeibBPL Member
@joegeibLocale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
and I passed many a NOB on a small section I did in NH who used the hammock. i guess it all depends on your terrain. (I've never used a hammock yet myself).
However, I think the bivy/tarp to be more versatile for either scenario.Nov 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm #2041462
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Maybe I'm coming at this from a too-Alaskan perspective, but if there are so many mice and mousetraps don't weigh much. . .
Couldn't you reduce your food weight?Nov 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm #2041463
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"so many mice and mousetraps don't weigh much. . . Couldn't you reduce your food weight?"
Shades of Farley Mowat!
–B.G.–Nov 5, 2013 at 12:41 pm #2041465
Ben CBPL Member
Mousetraps DO work well. I hiked with a guy for awhile who set a mousetrap every night and cleaned it every morning. Had a mouse every morning. That's pretty predictable grub. But he never ate his kill.Nov 5, 2013 at 1:04 pm #2041473
well i suppose I need to know what the average amount of meat I could get off of a fat shelter mouse would be, versus the weight of the trap. I'm thinking it would be close to a wash, but when you factor in the fact that I don't carry a stove or utensils, it gets more complicated. Although a small fire and a skewer can be had anywhere. Anyone every field dressed a mouse with a SAK Classic?
I'm thinking instead of trapping a mouse, I simply pick one up and carry it with me. It is already trained to steal hiker food, so depending on how well we get along, that could really bolster my food supply.Nov 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm #2041539
Buck NelsonBPL Member
I definitely wouldn't depend on shelters. People most want to use shelters when it's raining, and that's when they are most likely to be full. Full shelters are far less likely if you start early or late or go SOBO.
I usually camped, mostly because of noise at shelters but also because of mice, skeeters, etc. and then I could walk as far as I wanted rather than always planning mileages to hit a shelter.
A good night's sleep is critical. Nobody knows you better than you. I suspect you'll like the Notch.Nov 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm #2041562
Yup, I do love the Notch. Mr. Shires was spot on with that one.
I usually sleep like a log after a full hiking day, but I've never slept in a shelter, or with mice running all over me.
I did sleep on the floor of a fire lookout once, and mice were all over the place. The lucky guy who got the bed got to sleep with the food to keep it safe.Nov 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm #2041593
Vincent VilcinskasBPL Member
best thing about shelters is not having to pack a wet tent. Worse thing is they'll dictate your mileage. Take your Notch…you won't regret it.Nov 6, 2013 at 6:10 am #2041725
Personally I would avoid shelters except to get water or maybe eat lunch/dinner. There are always places close by where you can camp.Nov 6, 2013 at 6:37 am #2041728
David MaxwellBPL Member
@davidmaxwellLocale: eastern, tn
Don't forget last years norovirus . I'd say a lot of the hikers caught it while staying in shelters. The only way to kill it was bleach. And the shelters didn't get washed down with bleach until after the bubble went through.Nov 19, 2013 at 1:33 am #2046086
By the time you get to NC, there will be one guy who you can't seem to lose. He'll be a loud talker. He'll have a European sense of personal space. He'll drink himself to sleep for the two nights after each town stop. He'll snore. He'll spill food all over the shelter when he cooks and the mice will run over your bag in the night to get to his crumbs. His political/religious/racial views will prove anathema to you.
When you get on in Atkins to hike back to Trail Days the year after you finish, he'll be the first person you see. And he will be delighted, absolutely ecstatic to see you. Amazingly, he'll also be hiking south for the week.
Yeah, take a tent.Nov 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm #2046292
Ryan SmithBPL Member
LOL. Funniest post I have seen in a while Clint. That is a very good description of how it turns out usually.
I prefer to tent nearby to the shelters solely due to the snoring. I have a tough time sleeping anyway, and add to that (5) big chunky 50-something hikers with sleep apnea. Yeah, that gets old quick. Take a tent.
P.S. – The record catch for shelter mice in a night is eight.
RyanNov 20, 2013 at 8:38 pm #2046732
Yup, that is a nightmare. My wife jokes that I'm going to get stuck in a shelter during a storm with some evangelicals. I'm not the most social guy in the world to begin with… I just hope I can hike faster than some of my more colorful trailmates.Nov 21, 2013 at 6:16 am #2046815
Jake DBPL Member
haha.. plenty of ways to ditch people on the trail, especially with a tent. Hike later, get up earlier, get out of resupply towns faster. Just keep your plans vagueDec 5, 2013 at 7:51 am #2051062
Phillip AsbyBPL Member
@pgasbyLocale: North Carolina
I was reading in another thread that you have to use the shelters unless they are full – which pretty clearly everyone on this thread disagrees with… so is there any rule regarding mandatory shelter use? Limited to certain sections?
I'm thinking about a short couple day section in the early spring with my son and know both of us would prefer to tent than deal with mice and be controlled by shelter locations.Dec 5, 2013 at 8:43 am #2051086
@cooldripLocale: "Grand Canyon of the East"
The one place you will run into strict shelter policies in the south is in GSMNP. You must stay in a designated campsite in the park; the only designated sites on the AT in the park are the shelter sites. Further, if you're not a thru-hiker, you'll certainly need to reserve space. If you stay away from the park, you'll have no worries as far as picking your own campsite. Have fun!Dec 5, 2013 at 8:44 am #2051087
Hiking MaltoBPL Member
While I have not thru hiked the AT I do have over 2300 miles on the trail. I had never stayed in shelters until a year ago and now will stay in them only in the winter when I have them to myself. As much as I don't like them in three season, they are super nice when hiking in the winter because I'm generally stopping well after dark, the weather can be crappy and it saves time in tear down and setup. If I were through hiking I would rarely stay in a shelter because….
1) the hoards of people. There were over 40 hikers staying in the Hawk Mtn shelter area one morning during peak through hiker season. That is not my idea of a wilderness experience.
2) staying in shelters limits your mileage flexibility. I like to hike long days and shelters force you to stop early or push too far in many cases due to the spacing. Also, hikers start playing the race down the trail and stop at shelters early to reserve a spot game. Interesting perspective from Balls of Balls and Sunshine fame in his AT journal.
3) sickness. There were scores of hikers sick the last two years. I suspect much of it is caused by concentration poor hygiene in a small area.
4) snoring, farting and talking. I can tolerate my own, don't care to be in harmony with a dozen other sardines.
1) rain. Shelters beat having to deal with a wet shelter. But this is also when everyone has the same idea. See above.
2) social. It seems that the AT social expire nice revolves around the shelters in addition to town stops. You will have to answer how important this is to you. Not a big deal to me since I generally will be doing high miles and will rarely meet a hiker more than once.
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