Making Your Own Shelter

Hiking the Appalachian Trail is no small feat, and it’s especially impressive when thru-hikers accomplish this epic trek with equipment and gear filling out their packs. Such gear might include a tent, but there are indeed lean-to shelters in place along the length of the trail, for good reason. This submission recounts a youthful lapse in judgement regarding tents vs. shelters:

I thru-hiked the 2,180+-mile Appalachian Trail back in 2013 when I was 22. The trail passes through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and that is where I made the mistake of being a young, dumb, know-it-all punk 🙂

I intended to spend every night I was on the trail (5+ months worth) sleeping in my tent (as opposed to seeking shelter in one of the many lean-to type shelters that line the trail). When I entered the park, I had to self-register and agree to only sleep in the shelters. I think it was their way of mitigating damage to the areas surrounding the shelters that tents can cause. Instead of heeding their advice, I decided to pitch my tent all six or seven nights I was in the park. Looking back, I realize that those guidelines are there for a reason but I couldn’t wrap that idea around my 22-year-old brain.

Submitted by Matt


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