Ok so a couple questions. These are questions for those of you who are Great Smoky Mountains veterans. I'm planning on hiking the entire length of the AT through the Smokies Mar 27-Apr 3, and just wanted to pick your brains on some things. I understand the whole new fee & permit subject so I don't want to get into that.
1) Insulation. I want to use my 40F Pheonix (1oz overstuffed) & 40F Burrow combo for insulation, along with a 16x24" piece of reflectix for CB problems. Is this unreasonable for this time of year in the Smokies? I know the weather can be highly variable, so I won't mind if I get a little cold 1 night when the temp dips, but I don't want to be cold EVERY night. I also have a 20F Incubator, but I'm trying to go as light as possible.
2) Shelters. I know you're supposed to stay in the shelters, and I've seen that some people have even hung inside some of them, but I should be fine if I just hang right next to them right? This is more regarding rangers than bears. I'll be carrying bear mace, and hanging it from my ridgeline while I sleep.
3) Crowds. I'm worried that there will be a big wave of thru-hikers going through while I'm there. I'm sure there will some, but I'm wondering if its going to be overwhelming.
Thanks guys for any input you have on these.