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Smokies question

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  • rosaleen43@aol.com
    Hey, Folks! It seems I will have a chance to do some hiking in the Smokies this April. A quick glance at backcountry regs shows that only thru-hikers can camp
    Message 1 of 9 , Jan 14, 2005
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      Hey, Folks!
       
      It seems I will have a chance to do some hiking in the Smokies this April.  A quick glance at backcountry regs shows that only thru-hikers can camp outside of shelters, and, then, only if the shelter is full.
       
      I'm a bit leery of PLANNING to stealth camp in a closely regulated area that is also populated by aggressive bears.  I understand that bear problems are calming down a bit as people get smarter at keeping their food away from bears.  Does anyone have experience with the Smokies and hammocking?
       
      TIA, 
       
      Rosaleen
    • Rick
      Hi Rosaleen, I have been camping in the Smokies three times. Maybe someone else will have more experience. What you have written below is only completely true
      Message 2 of 9 , Jan 14, 2005
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        Hi Rosaleen,

        I have been camping in the Smokies three times. Maybe someone else will
        have more experience.

        What you have written below is only completely true of the AT through
        the Smoky Mountains. If one begins a hike at either end of the park on
        the AT, it is necessary to carry a permit filled out there. The permit
        just says that you are a thruhiker and the date you are entering. You
        are expected to stay at or in the shelters.

        There is a board with back country permits at Fontana Dam. Also, if you
        stay with the Hike Inn folks, they are good at explaining all of it.

        At the north end, the nearest board that has permits that I have heard
        of is at Hot Springs.

        The requirement regardless of which end you enter is that you started
        your hike 50 plus miles outside the park and are continuing the hike
        into the park.

        If you want to arrive at the Smoky Mountains, and stop in the park
        headquarters just outside Gatlinburg to pick up your AT camping permit,
        you just have to have reserved your spots in the shelters ahead of
        time. (Also, hammock campers are not allowed to set up their hammocks
        near the shelters or away from the shelters. - it is a tenter or hammock
        camper's nightmare.)

        However, there are a bunch of trails in the Smokey Mountains that are
        not on the AT. There are backcountry camping sites along these trails
        that do not have shelters, and many of them are not rationed sites. At
        any of the car camp grounds in the park, or at any of the ranger
        stations, it is possible to fill out a back country permit in which you
        say what campsites you will be spending the night. The advantage of
        using unrationed sites is that they do not have shelters, are not as
        crowded, and you do not need to call for permission like is necessary
        for non-thrus for all the AT shelters.

        I would not recommend stealth camping in the Park. I have been "carded"
        in both the Smoky Mountains and in Shenandoah Parks. I had all the
        right permits. However I really don't like hiking where people expect
        to look at my credentials. It takes away the sense of wilderness.

        Personally, I dislike the Smokey Mountains for hiking. The trails in
        the Smokys are churned up by horses and have deep mud in many places.
        The grass is long and hangs over the trail, constantly wetting my boots.
        The erosion on steep parts of the trail is bad.

        The trail from Standing Bear hostel to Max Patch to Hot Springs and then
        to Erwin is a better path and much less crowded than anything in the
        Park. The same is true for the trail from Deep Gap below Standing
        Indian to Stecoah Gap. No rangers, no rules, not reservations. Either
        side of the park, the trail is much better than the park - in this
        hammock camper's opinion.

        Risk

        rosaleen43@... wrote:

        > Hey, Folks!
        >
        > It seems I will have a chance to do some hiking in the Smokies this
        > April. A quick glance at backcountry regs shows that only thru-hikers
        > can camp outside of shelters, and, then, only if the shelter is full.
        >
        > I'm a bit leery of PLANNING to stealth camp in a closely regulated
        > area that is also populated by aggressive bears. I understand that
        > bear problems are calming down a bit as people get smarter at keeping
        > their food away from bears. Does anyone have experience with the
        > Smokies and hammocking?
        >
        > TIA,
        >
        > Rosaleen
        >
        > ------------------------------------------------------------------------
        > **
      • Douglas Kitchen
        I was kind of unhappy about the Presidential in N.H. for the same reasons. I walked into a tent site and a ranger cam out and showed me where to set up my
        Message 3 of 9 , Jan 14, 2005
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          I was kind of unhappy about the Presidential in N.H. for the same reasons. I walked into a tent site and a "ranger" cam out and showed me where to set up my tent. Then proceeded to pack others all around me.
          The next night we Stealthed camped, much better.

          I would not recommend stealth camping in the Park.  I have been "carded"
          in both the Smoky Mountains and in Shenandoah Parks.  I had all the
          right permits.  However I really don't like hiking where people expect
          to look at my credentials. It takes away the sense of wilderness.
        • Shane
          I would not recommend stealth camping in the Park. I have been carded in both the Smoky Mountains and in Shenandoah Parks. I had all the right permits.
          Message 4 of 9 , Jan 14, 2005
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            I would not recommend stealth camping in the Park. I have been "carded"
            in both the Smoky Mountains and in Shenandoah Parks. I had all the
            right permits. However I really don't like hiking where people expect
            to look at my credentials. It takes away the sense of wilderness.

            ### Hmmm... Forest Nazis. Who'd a thunk it?

            Shane
          • Rami
            ... [[R:]] Hi Rosaleen, The smokies can be a fun hike, but you have to deal with a lot of junk there that you don t have to elsewhere... My biggest beef was
            Message 5 of 9 , Jan 14, 2005
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              > It seems I will have a chance to do some hiking in the Smokies this
              > > April. A quick glance at backcountry regs shows that only thru-hikers
              > > can camp outside of shelters, and, then, only if the shelter is full.
              > >
              > > I'm a bit leery of PLANNING to stealth camp in a closely regulated
              > > area that is also populated by aggressive bears. I understand that
              > > bear problems are calming down a bit as people get smarter at keeping
              > > their food away from bears. Does anyone have experience with the
              > > Smokies and hammocking?

              [[R:]]
              Hi Rosaleen,

              The smokies can be a fun hike, but you have to deal with a lot of junk
              there that you don't have to elsewhere...

              My biggest beef was with the crowds as we approached the Newfound Gap/
              Cling man's Dome areas.

              I'll echo much of what Rick said, but with a few observations;

              Horse traffic wasn't all that bad between Newfound Gap and Davenport Gap
              on the AT (middle to North). We spent two days doing that section and
              only saw people on the 2nd day when we were close to Newfound Gap
              (Charlie's Bunion, Icewater springs etc.)

              There were plenty of places to get off the trail and hang your hammock
              all along this section.

              We had a very nice time.

              Enjoy!



              --
              -r

              Pressure
              -------
              Grace
            • Ralph Oborn
              Taht and the fish cops. :] Ralph
              Message 6 of 9 , Jan 15, 2005
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                Taht and the fish cops. :]

                Ralph




                On Fri, 14 Jan 2005 16:02:29 -0600, Shane <shane@...> wrote:
                >
                > I would not recommend stealth camping in the Park. I have been "carded"
                > in both the Smoky Mountains and in Shenandoah Parks. I had all the
                > right permits. However I really don't like hiking where people expect
                > to look at my credentials. It takes away the sense of wilderness.
                >
                > ### Hmmm... Forest Nazis. Who'd a thunk it?
                >
                > Shane
                >
                >
                >
                > Yahoo! Groups Links
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
              • rosaleen43@aol.com
                Risk- Thanks for your response. I will have to warm up my CDROM of that section of the AT. I had assumed that the backcountry camping rules about staying
                Message 7 of 9 , Jan 17, 2005
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                  Risk-
                   
                  Thanks for your response.  I will have to warm up my CDROM of that section of the AT.  I had assumed that the backcountry camping rules about staying strictly in shelters applied only within the National Park.  Maybe I can spot some alternate trails,  plan to hike between established car camping grounds (yuck!), or bite the bullet and carry a larger mattress instead of my hammock withing the GSMNP proper. (Blasphemy!)  I read somewhere that shelter spots can't be reserved via Internet or phone.  I will have to ask about reservation by mail, os see if I can stop at an entry point and fill out a form in April for July or August.
                   
                  Partially because of the tight regs, Seashell and I are looking at hiking from Erwin to Hot Springs, hitting Trail Fest before driving back to the Boston area.  Over the summer, I may get another chance to hit the southern AT.  I've been spending at least one summer week with my parents, using much of the time to help with home maintenance and repairs.  Now that they are living in a lovely retirement community outside of Dayton, I can pop in just to visit.  (Maybe I will refinish small furniture for Mom, too.)  This year, though, is another BSA National Jamboree (Hubby and I volunteer there for the Park Service.)  year, so I will look into what I can build around the golden opportunity of being in VA anyway.  At least between Erwin and Hot Springs Seashell and I should be able to use hammocks at will.
                   
                  Thanks again
                   
                    From: Rick <ra1@...>
                  Subject: Re: Smokies question

                  Hi Rosaleen,

                  I have been camping in the Smokies three times.  Maybe someone else will
                  have more experience.

                  What you have written below is only completely true of the AT through
                  the Smoky Mountains.  If one begins a hike at either end of the park on
                  the AT, it is necessary to carry a permit filled out there.  The permit
                  just says that you are a thruhiker and the date you are entering.  You
                  are expected to stay at or in the shelters.

                  There is a board with back country permits at Fontana Dam.  Also, if you
                  stay with the Hike Inn folks, they are good at explaining all of it.

                  At the north end, the nearest board that has permits that I have heard
                  of is at Hot Springs.

                  The requirement regardless of which end you enter is that you started
                  your hike 50 plus miles outside the park and are continuing the hike
                  into the park.

                  If you want to arrive at the Smoky Mountains, and stop in the park
                  headquarters just outside Gatlinburg to pick up your AT camping permit,
                  you just have to have reserved your spots in the shelters ahead of
                  time.  (Also, hammock campers are not allowed to set up their hammocks
                  near the shelters or away from the shelters. - it is a tenter or hammock
                  camper's nightmare.)

                  However, there are a bunch of trails in the Smokey Mountains that are
                  not on the AT.  There are backcountry camping sites along these trails
                  that do not have shelters, and many of them are not rationed sites.  At
                  any of the car camp grounds in the park, or at any of the ranger
                  stations, it is possible to fill out a back country permit in which you
                  say what campsites you will be spending the night.  The advantage of
                  using unrationed sites is that they do not have shelters, are not as
                  crowded, and you do not need to call for permission like is necessary
                  for non-thrus for all the AT shelters.

                  I would not recommend stealth camping in the Park.  I have been "carded"
                  in both the Smoky Mountains and in Shenandoah Parks.  I had all the
                  right permits.  However I really don't like hiking where people expect
                  to look at my credentials. It takes away the sense of wilderness.

                  Personally, I dislike the Smokey Mountains for hiking.  The trails in
                  the Smokys are churned up by horses and have deep mud in many places. 
                  The grass is long and hangs over the trail, constantly wetting my boots.
                  The erosion on steep parts of the trail is bad.

                  The trail from Standing Bear hostel to Max Patch to Hot Springs and then
                  to Erwin is a better path and much less crowded than anything in the
                  Park.  The same is true for the trail from Deep Gap below Standing
                  Indian to Stecoah Gap.  No rangers, no rules, not reservations.  Either
                  side of the park, the trail is much better than the park - in this
                  hammock camper's opinion.

                  Risk
                • dlfrost_1
                  ... section of ... staying ... I can spot some ... grounds ... my hammock ... shelter spots can t be ... reservation by ... April for July ... You can get all
                  Message 8 of 9 , Jan 18, 2005
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                    --- In hammockcamping@yahoogroups.com, rosaleen43@a... wrote:
                    > Risk-
                    >
                    > Thanks for your response. I will have to warm up my CDROM of that
                    section of
                    > the AT. I had assumed that the backcountry camping rules about
                    staying
                    > strictly in shelters applied only within the National Park. Maybe
                    I can spot some
                    > alternate trails, plan to hike between established car camping
                    grounds
                    > (yuck!), or bite the bullet and carry a larger mattress instead of
                    my hammock
                    > withing the GSMNP proper. (Blasphemy!) I read somewhere that
                    shelter spots can't be
                    > reserved via Internet or phone. I will have to ask about
                    reservation by
                    > mail, os see if I can stop at an entry point and fill out a form in
                    April for July
                    > or August.

                    You can get all the info you need about the park at the Park Service
                    website for the GSMNP:
                    http://www.nps.gov/grsm/
                    Pay attention to road closures and other weather info prior to your
                    trip. (Overnight temp info is posted for LeConte and other locations
                    in the park.) The trail map commonly available at sign-in points is
                    posted as a PDF in the maps section and should be obtained. All the
                    rules and reservation info are on the back of that as well.

                    I usually backpack in the Smokies, using shelters only when
                    necessary. I'll file the reservation plans, and I'll use the hanging
                    hardware to protect my gear...but I'll never willingly sleep in a
                    shelter again. :-)

                    Doug Frost
                  • rosaleen43@aol.com
                    Doug- Thanks for your input. Seashell and I have hung hammocks INSIDE shelters, but it was off seaon and n o one else was there. I doubt we would have that
                    Message 9 of 9 , Jan 18, 2005
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                      Doug-
                       
                      Thanks for your input.  Seashell and I have hung hammocks INSIDE shelters, but it was "off seaon" and n o one else was there.  I doubt we would have that luxury in April in the South.
                       
                      Rosaleen
                      From: "dlfrost_1" <dlfrost@...>
                      Subject: Re: Smokies question



                      You can get all the info you need about the park at the Park Service
                      website for the GSMNP:
                      http://www.nps.gov/grsm/
                      Pay attention to road closures and other weather info prior to your
                      trip.  (Overnight temp info is posted for LeConte and other locations
                      in the park.)  The trail map commonly available at sign-in points is
                      posted as a PDF in the maps section and should be obtained.  All the
                      rules and reservation info are on the back of that as well.

                      I usually backpack in the Smokies, using shelters only when
                      necessary.  I'll file the reservation plans, and I'll use the hanging
                      hardware to protect my gear...but I'll never willingly sleep in a
                      shelter again.  :-)

                      Doug Frost
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