There are times that the only way you can do something is alone – that waiting on the convenience of others means that a lot of opportunities will pass you by
Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.” ― Mark Twain
Who cares about showers, gourmet food, using flush toilets. Just keep on walking and being away from it all.
The fee will be $4 per person per night. There will be no family discount, veterans discount, local discount, AAA discount or groupons allowed. The fee will max out at $20 per person for a 7 day trip. Advance reservations are now required for all shelters and campsites, whereas currently you are able to self register a permit at most major trailheads for non reservation campsites. The majority of the campsites in the smokies are currently non reservation sites.
According to the park, the new fee will go to pay for the new online reservation system, it will free up the backcountry reservation office to allow them to assist in route planning, and it will pay for 2 full time backcountry rangers who will be checking for permit compliance and teaching LNT principles.
The permit money will not be used for trail maintenance, shelter maintenance, trail building or any other improvements. Thankfully, there are several volunteer groups that take this on. Thank you to them! For info on how your donations can help maintain the trails in the park, check out this trust fund/endowment: http://smokiestrailsforever.org/
Currently, you can make backcountry reservations 30 days in advance over the phone, if you can get ahold of the paid staff at the backcountry reservation office. But over the last several years, it is extremely unlikely that you will get anybody to pick up the phone there. I have had the best luck calling the backcountry information number, which is staffed by volunteers.
The new reservation system will also allow you to make reservations 30 days in advance on their website. Supposedly, the new website will also give you an idea of how many people are already reserved for shelters or campsites that you are looking at.
Lastly, thru hikers can get a permit for $20. It allows them an 8 day window for hiking through the park and does not require them to make reservations for a specific site.
Also, as Laurie from the ATC said, please do not hang your hammock in the shelters or from the shelters. You are stressing the shelter in ways it was not designed for. Please keep in mind all the 100's of hours donated by volunteers and 10's of thousands of dollars donated to build and maintain the fantastic shelters that have been remodeled in the GSMNP over the last 15 years or so.
Well, they beat me to the punch. I'm still not convinced hanging a hammock from the beam of a shelter will stress the shelter in manners it wasn't design for.Many of the shelter walls are built by stones and the beams are resting on the stones. You're telling me the stones cannot hold up a human? It already doing a great job holding up 10-15 people on regular basis in the summer months..I presume the wooden beams has been treated or certain woods/trees has been used to help prevent decay and termite..Otherwise I don't see how hanging a hammock inside the shelter from the beams will harm it? If those trees hasn't been treated to prevent decay and termite then I understand the weight plus decay/termite may be harmful to the beam. But again I have no engineering skills.... If I had to spend a night in a shelter again I was planning to hang my hammock on the beams. I guess I can't plan to do that.....Oh, well.
I always hang in the park but I also avoid the shelters as much as possible, the campsites are the way to go less people, hate to hear the money wont go to shelters and trails but I am looking forward to the website trying to get ahold of someone at the backcountry office is near impossible
Maybe I can get answers from WhiteBlaze. I may join it!
I think you will find that the folks at whiteblaze are going to be far less receptive to the idea of hanging in shelters. I recall seeing a thread there last week talking about it. Most of the people were annoyed at those trying to hang in shelters since they were inevitably in everyone's way.
I prefer to avoid the shelters as much as I can. But when I do stay in shelters, I sleep on a 2.8" thick exped synmat.