Matt asked, in response to my complaint that the shelters were "always" uphill:
"Wouldn't all (well-designed) shelters be uphill? I think being in a valley or downhill slope would make drainage a problem, or consideration in the construction."
Yes, and that's entirely true, but also not really what we were actually complaining about.
Most shelters are either directly on the AT, or a short distance (and actually, usually downhill) from the AT itself. Only a very few shelters are much more than about a quarter mile from the AT; Whitley Gap being the furthest so far at 1.3 miles from the trail.
What we were complaining about was the location of shelters along the AT, relative to travel on AT. That is, the shelters are typically on the uphill side of a mountain, so regardless of the location of the shelter relative to the trail, we typically had to travel uphill on the trail before any side trail to the shelter.
We really only complain about this because, at the end of the day, It'd be nice to have a nice, friendly downhill, rather than an uphill that makes you work to get to the shelter.
This is, of course, entirely relative. For a SOBO, our uphills are their downhills, and all the shelters we're complaining about are downhill for them. Also, we're exaggerating somewhat; there are shelters that are downhill on the trail; we just haven't stayed at any (or many) of them.