I’m writing this post at the request of one of our regular readers. He had a bad experience camping at an Appalachian Trail Shelter over the Columbus Day weekend with his children. Some other campers showed up and were drinking heavily. They got loaded and and rowdy and trashed the campsite, yelling and screaming until 2 in the morning. Luckily his kids slept right through it, though that’s hard to imagine.
I’ve had an experience like this myself on the AT, where a couple of old boys showed up for their annual weekend away from their wives, loaded with cases of beer, a boom box, a chain saw for cutting firewood, and even guns. They took over the shelter and listened to a New York Yankees game, radio blaring around a bonfire, late into the night. I just set up my tent far into the woods and had a peaceful night, but it irked me that these guys were using the shelter like a motel room.
More often than not, these incidents take place at shelters that are located near roads, which is generally a good reason to avoid them. Further, the people who get loaded and obnoxious, in my experience, are almost never hikers. Real hikers go to sleep when the sun goes down because they’re tired.
Short of calling the cops and hoping they show up, there’s not a lot you can do about people like this if you’re deep in the woods. This is why I often avoid established campsites or sleep as far away from the shelter gathering spot as possible. That, and the fact that people would kill me if they had to listen to me snore all night.
Have you ever had an experience like this? How did you handle it?