Monday, April 12, 2010

Boiling Springs No Camp Zone

One of the more disturbing things we encountered in our planning for a section hike of lower Pennsylvania is the existence of an 18 mile long (depending from where one measures) no camping zone extending from Alec Kennedy Shelter just south of Boiling Springs to Darlington Shelter, about 5 miles north of I-80. Now, we understand why the zone exists. This is the area of the Appalachian Trail most encroached by civilization. Some of the trail is on private land. The thin strip the trail occupies just can't handle hikers, hobos and all who wish to camp in the limited space. But, twenty miles?

For the seasoned thru-hiker, this encumbrance is no barrier. Thru-hikers have been pounding out 20 mile days for a month or more by now. For section hikers, who don't or haven't yet built to that level of endurance. this section could be an obstacle.

The first strategy in completing this section is to position oneself as close to Boiling Springs as possible. One option is the camp site along the noisy and active railroad tracks south of town. Few hikers opt for the camp site. The more common option is to rent space in the backyard of John & Molly Garman, bathroom privileges not included. (You are planning to stop at the pool on the way in and take care of your hygiene needs, aren't you?). Here's how to contact the Garmans:

John & Molly Garman
PO Box 307
Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania 17007-0307
Phone: 717-258-3980

There is another B&B in town, but you really don't want to leave your pack out back and enter using the fire escape, do you? The proprietors seemingly like the income, but not the dirt that hikers bring.

Now that you're in Boiling Springs, you can top off fuel and water at the ATC center and sprint north towards Darlington Shelter. For those not wishing to put in a full day of hiking, one can opt to overnight along Highway 11, between the PA turnpike and I-80. Within a mile to the west are several motels and a Flying J truck stop with 22 showers, laundry, and a 24/7 Denny's. Be careful about the motel you select as at least one has been reviewed as having bed bugs. A local transit bus travels along Highway 11 and one can ride to a Walmart in Carlisle, to a K-Mart in Mechanicsburg, or to downtown Harrisburg and the Amtrack/Greyhound depot.

Our plan is to remain overnight in Boiling Springs, hike to Highway 11 and take the bus to downtown Harrisburg. Downtown, we'll catch the one evening commuter bus to the Duncannon area and hike south to Highway 11. Back at Highway 11, we'll shower at the Flying J for $12 and take the bus back downtown to the Greyhound depot and head home.

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