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Re: replacing boots & shelter space

> My big fear prior to the hike was that if I had set up
> a tent near or in the general vicinity of the shelter, I would be fined by
> the Park Service. I thought maybe that the Rangers would look the other way
> if it were a thru hiker. I did have confirmed reservations.

Over the last ten years, I've done probably 50 nights in the Smokies on 
the AT & other trails, and I've never met a ranger on patrol for 
backcountry use (did meet boar hunters once).  They don't prioritize the 
funding.  I did meet the Ridgerunner once, at Cosby Knob.  The 
Ridgerunner doesn't have the authority to hand out fines, in fact s/he 
doesn't even have a space reservation.  Go figure.

Seems to me that during the major thru-flow that tenting makes sense 
when the shelter is full, but not before.  The no tents rule in the 
Smokies is about trying to limit and concentrate impact in an 
intensively-used piece of backcountry.  By keeping everyone in the 
shelter, you reduce the wear and tear on the nearby ground.  Makes sense 
to me.

BTW, the Ridgerunner in that encounter was Morgan Briggs, a fine man who 
has devoted a lot of his time to caring for the trail with the Smoky 
Mountains hiking club.

- Matt Perrenod