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AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them?
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Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them? on 11/03/2013 19:27:32 MST Print View

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...

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them? on 11/03/2013 19:40:18 MST Print View

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.

David Maxwell

Locale: eastern, tn
Re: AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them? on 11/03/2013 20:38:35 MST Print View

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.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them? on 11/03/2013 21:39:26 MST Print View

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?

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
notch on 11/04/2013 10:28:28 MST Print View

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.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
hammock? on 11/05/2013 07:53:51 MST Print View

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.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them? on 11/05/2013 13:29:53 MST Print View

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?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them? on 11/05/2013 13:35:05 MST Print View

"so many mice and mousetraps don't weigh much. . . Couldn't you reduce your food weight?"

Shades of Farley Mowat!


Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them? on 11/05/2013 13:41:01 MST Print View

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.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
mouse weight? on 11/05/2013 14:04:49 MST Print View

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.

Buck Nelson
(Colter) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
I usually camped away from shelters on 11/05/2013 17:03:16 MST Print View

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.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
good nights sleep on 11/05/2013 17:49:46 MST Print View

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.

Vincent Vilcinskas
(vinvil) - M
Shelter or not on 11/05/2013 18:56:26 MST Print View

best thing about shelters is not having to pack a wet tent. Worse thing is they'll dictate your mileage. Take your won't regret it.

Eddy Walker

Locale: southeast
Re: AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them? on 11/06/2013 07:10:35 MST Print View

Personally I would avoid shelters except to get water or maybe eat lunch/dinner. There are always places close by where you can camp.

David Maxwell

Locale: eastern, tn
Re: AT Shelters- how frequently will I want to use them? on 11/06/2013 07:37:35 MST Print View

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.

Clint E
Tent. on 11/19/2013 02:33:51 MST Print View

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.

Edited by Pakabear on 11/19/2013 02:35:00 MST.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Tent. on 11/19/2013 17:52:32 MST Print View

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.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 11/19/2013 17:53:55 MST.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
nooooo!!! on 11/20/2013 21:38:14 MST Print View

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.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: nooooo!!! on 11/21/2013 07:16:14 MST Print View

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 vague

Phillip Asby
(PGAsby) - M

Locale: North Carolina
Shelters on 12/05/2013 08:51:53 MST Print View

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.