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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    WBBB 1.1 Double
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    GSMNP - Hammock / Pad question

    OK, I've done quite a bit of research about the Smokies and hammocking. As a public service announcement, I'll summarize the rules here:
    - If you're staying at any shelter, then you need a reservation.
    - If you're staying at a shelter, then you MUST actually sleep in the shelter and not in a tent.
    - AT Thru-hikers are exempt from the reservation requirements.
    - AT Thru-hikers may pitch a tent if and only if the shelters are full.
    - AT Thru-hikers are defined as those who start 50 miles prior to GSMNP and finish at least 50 miles past GSMNP. Thru-hikers must register and I think they are given a permit that lists them as a thru-hiker.
    - Some campsites require a reservation. Hammocks are OK at any of the backcountry campsites.

    My question for fellow hammockers: do you really need to carry your hammock, your underquilt AND a "normal" sleeping pad? How do you get around the shelter rule and the need for a sleeping pad for shelter use? Yes, I know that someone will say "just avoid all shelters." But for a 7 day trip, that's kinda hard to do.


  2. #2
    Senior Member MedicineMan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Roan Mountain,TN
    Traveler with HNO AirShip
    HNO AirShip
    Leiglo 5/50
    Everything Dutch

    Its not hard to do....

    Ive crossed GSMNP on the AT 2.5 times.
    Def. stop at the shelter, sign in, eat, socialize, water up then repack your cook kit and hit the trail...when you get the urge after a half mile or 3 go left or far off the trail is up to you. I go until I feel inside that I've dissapeard. Once on the AT in New York I went almost 3/4 mile off the trail to get that feeling that it would be 1:1,000,000 for someone to stumble upon me.
    Right,wrong? I'll pay the fine if caught but I know I've only done the environmental damage (cooking) at the shelter where it is localized and 'confined'. I also know that the bruin has about as much chance of finding me stealthing as the ranger since I'm not cooking where I'm hanging. Said bruin def. knows where the shelters are In the Smokies def. still do the bear bag hang anywhere you are.

  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Doraville, GA
    I have hiked the AT through the Smokies as a thru hiker and as a section hiker. I believe the AT thru hiker 'rules' are only applicable during a certain time of the year, when the nobo's are coming through and the Smokies aren't that crowded.

    When I hiked the AT portion as a section hiker several years ago during the summer I called the Rangers and got the rules from them... I even called back and verified about the possibility of needing a tent (or hammock). I made reservations for shelters, took a pad, and ditched the tent because they told me I could not use one anyway and that there would not be anyone trying to stay in shelters that did not have reservations.

    What I found was different. I found space in the shelters I had reservations for but people showing up later were often out of luck. No one checked for reservations and people stayed in shelters when they did not have them. Actually there were buses of some group that were staying anywhere they wanted to- in shelters or tents and sometimes staying in tents but using up half the shelter space to store their crap.

    Another time I hiked the Lakeshore Trail and part of the Benton MacKaye Trail. I used hammocks and it was no problem. I just filled out the reservation info on site and went on. There were no shelters to use on that hike anyway and we really didn't camp that often around other folks. Those trails were not heavily used.
    Youngblood AT2000

  4. #4
    Senior Member Doctari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Cincinnati, Oh
    Custom OES
    DIM UQ NoSniv TQ
    JRB Triglide/strap
    Last I checked, the Smokies had ONE back country ranger.
    And ONE Ridge runner with no police powers but can call for the "Powers that be" so,,,,,,,,,
    70 miles of AT divided by 1 ranger,,,,,,,,,,
    OR, if not staying at a shelter / reservation required campsite 600+ miles of trails / one ranger.

    Also, for ANYONE to tell you to not bring a shelter (tent or tarp, etc) in the Back Country in the Smokies is irresponsible in the extreme!!!!!
    What if: you sprain an ankle between shelters 10 miles apart? The shelter is full & NO ONE will move for you, "So what if you have reservations I'm not moving!"
    When you have a backpack on, no matter where you are, you’re home.

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