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  1. #1
    Registered User foodbag's Avatar
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    Default No camping between Alec Kennedy & Darlington shelters in PA

    While researching matters related to a planned SOBO AT section hike in October I've learned that there's no camping between Alec Kennedy and Darlington Shelters, except at the campsite at Boiling Springs.

    Given this information, this means that there is going to be a 14.7 mile day to be had between Alec Kennedy shelter and Boiling Springs. I'll be only 26 miles into getting my trail legs, and I'm not confident that I'll be able to cover the 14.7 mile distance on legs that are still getting acclimated. I'm working on building up my stamina in advance of starting out, but I'm not expecting to be a super-fast hiker at age 65.

    What options I might have for holing up for the night along this stretch, if any, aside from getting a motel room on U.S. 11 near Carlisle? I'll get a room if I have to, but I was hoping to spend more time in the woods and less time in civilization whenever possible. I also don't want to overdo it, and risk injury by getting out of the gate too fast. Thanks in advance for any info.
    Long-distance aspirations with short-distance feet.... :jump

  2. #2
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    fyi, that's a pretty flat and easy stretch of trail.

  3. #3
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    Yep, mostly flat trail from Alec Kennedy to Boiling Springs and on from there north to Darlington shelter. You have a little bit of up-and-down (mostly down) first thing in the day when you leave the shelter (up and over Center Point Knob), but then you get into the Great Valley of the Appalachians and it's mostly flat farmland all the way to the ridge a couple of miles short of Darlington shelter.

    You also have your distances wrong. It's only 18.2 miles from Kennedy to Darlington. It's only 3.9 miles from Kennedy to Boiling Springs. That means you would have to do a 14.3 mile day across the valley to get from Boiling Springs to Darlington, but as I said, that's almost all flat farmland (which is also why there's no camping out there.) It's only the last 2 miles that you'd be climbing the ridge up to Darlington. Seems like a long day when you're only doing a section, but it's perfectly doable. Most hikers (even old section hikers like us) can do the whole run from Kennedy to Darlington in a long day.

    For easy reference, use the Appalachian Trail Distance Calculator to find mileages between points on the trail.
    Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.
    Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

  4. #4

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    I did it on 95 degree day with not a cloud in the sky, it was a hot one. We refilled in Boiling Springs and at the ATC barn. By the time we made the Darlington shelter I was cooked.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I did it on 95 degree day with not a cloud in the sky, it was a hot one. We refilled in Boiling Springs and at the ATC barn. By the time we made the Darlington shelter I was cooked.
    Ditto. Except no water at the barn. There is a spring just a little ways up the climb to Darlington, where water is spotty. If it is hot, camel up and fill your bottles in Boiling Springs.

    The terrain is super easy.

    At the Bernheisel Bridge Rd crossing there is a little farm stand that sells some snacks and whole unpasteurized milk. Oh man is that good for Oreos.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    I did it on 95 degree day with not a cloud in the sky, it was a hot one. We refilled in Boiling Springs and at the ATC barn. By the time we made the Darlington shelter I was cooked.
    Ditto. Except no water at the barn. There is a spring just a little ways up the climb to Darlington, where water is spotty. If it is hot, camel up and fill your bottles in Boiling Springs.

    The terrain is super easy.

    At the Bernheisel Bridge Rd crossing there is a little farm stand that sells some snacks and whole unpasteurized milk. Oh man is that good for Oreos.

  7. #7
    AT 11,000 Miler
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    You can arrange a shuttle pick up somewhere in that section and be taken to Boiling Springs where you could camp for the night. The next day you can get shuttled back to the spot where you left off and slackpack to the Boiling Springs campsite. A motel stay on US-11 might make more sense. If it's a rainy day you'll probably end up here anyway. Stealth camping is a bit risky in that section because the locals who live nearby use the AT for their daily walks. They will encounter you and probably call the local police as they know you should not be camping there.

  8. #8
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    I ended a section hike at the highway crossing near Carlisle. A number of hotels just west of the crossing. You could try to make it the entire 14.7 miles and, if late in the day or tired, just opt for one of the many motel (I doubt those motels are fully booked most of the time).

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    I ended a section hike at the highway crossing near Carlisle. A number of hotels just west of the crossing. You could try to make it the entire 14.7 miles and, if late in the day or tired, just opt for one of the many motel (I doubt those motels are fully booked most of the time).
    That was our decision for completing this section. We used the break as an opportunity to reset our cars in the middle of a section hike from Pine Grove Furnace to Duncannon.

  10. #10
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    I've done a handful of 18 mile days on my AT section hikes over the years. (I've never done more than 18 miles in a day). Alec Kennedy to Darlington was definitely the easiest one!

    If the weather is dry, the water source at Darlington may not be running. There's a reliable spring on a very short side trail about a mile south of the shelter where you can refill. Going NOBO, when you see an old abandoned car in the woods near the trail, look to your left for the trail to the spring.
    It's all good in the woods.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    Ditto. Except no water at the barn. There is a spring just a little ways up the climb to Darlington, where water is spotty. If it is hot, camel up and fill your bottles in Boiling Springs.
    No water at the barn? I remember a bridge crossing a large creek right next to the barn. Why not "water-up" there?

  12. #12
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    I don't enjoy the long hikes. On long days, I just take a deep breath, start out in the morning, take my time, and if it gets late in the day, I keep hiking until I reach camp. This method doesn't require a lot of planning, but you may need to carry a good head lamp and a lot of perseverance. I have arrived at camp two hours after dark. I have also hiked until I saw the sun again at six in the morning. I am an exceptionally slow hiker. I know that I hike slowly; therefore, I leave camp at the crack of dawn on a long hiking day. Even if you only hike one mile an hour, you can get 18 miles hiking 6:00 am to 11:00 pm. I know this is not the ideal solution, but the trail would not be a challenge if there were no challenges.

    Another method that I have liked to use in cases similar to your own; is slack packing. The only problem with this method is that it can be costly. If you have to keep a budget, then this is never the answer to your problem. I have rarely ever carried more than $40-$60 on the trail. I am not considered a big spender and may even be closer to a penny pincher in reality. Sometimes it can be daunting when you take a risk at hitching a ride. There have been times when I have been stationary in one place for two days waiting on transportation. You have to learn to kind of go with the natural flow of the trail. This method does not work for someone on a time schedule. It's the reason why most thru-hikers have to quit jobs before attempting a thru-hike.

    Few people back at home understand the hike. It is hard to get the support you need without a good Tramily (Trail Family).

  13. #13
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    No water at the barn? I remember a bridge crossing a large creek right next to the barn. Why not "water-up" there?
    This is what the FarOut app says:

    Cross Conodoguinet Creek on Bernheisel Bridge Road. The creek is a major river, but there is no water access (nor would you want to drink it, since it runs by many farms).

    Just west of the AT is Scott Farm, an ATC managed farm house with a large parking lot, a privy.

    ** Due to an unrepairable leak, the hydrant at the ATC Scott Farm Trail Work Center, adjacent to the Conodoguinet Creek Bridge (mile 1133.0) has been shut off and no public drinking water at this location is available.

  14. #14
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    I remember this being a muddy brown river with I assume agricultural and urban/suburban runoff. It would need an activated carbon/ceramic/iodine filter and that would still leave inorganic chemicals. On one of my thrus, I took a zero at the Super 8. That was 36 hours of TV/AC with good food from the nearby large diner.

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    I think if you camel up at Boiling Springs, and fill a couple of liters one would be okay to the spring at Wolf Creek Trail 13.3 miles north, even on a pretty hot day. It is easy walking. Maybe not if you’re very slow or have health issues, but I think most folks would be okay.

    Alternatively, I am sure you could arrange a shuttle driver to just bring you some water at one of the many road crossings.

    Conodoguinet Creek? Fine for soaking hot tired feet. Drink it? No thank you.

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    It's been a while, and I've forgotten a lot. So forgive me if I've got my locations wrong.

    If my memory is accurate, the campsite referred to in this thread is near a rail line. We used it. The freight train came screaming through there seemed like a dozen times during the night. If you're tired enough, maybe you can still get some rest, but it won't be great. A shuttle or motel room might be a good choice.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blue View Post
    This is what the FarOut app says:

    Cross Conodoguinet Creek on Bernheisel Bridge Road. The creek is a major river, but there is no water access (nor would you want to drink it, since it runs by many farms).

    Just west of the AT is Scott Farm, an ATC managed farm house with a large parking lot, a privy.

    ** Due to an unrepairable leak, the hydrant at the ATC Scott Farm Trail Work Center, adjacent to the Conodoguinet Creek Bridge (mile 1133.0) has been shut off and no public drinking water at this location is available.
    I would not want to drink the water straight from the creek/river either. But isn't that what water filters are for? Or are we now claiming that water filters are not effective?

  18. #18
    Registered User foodbag's Avatar
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    Some good perspectives, thanks. Given the flatness it seems like I made an issue where none exists, but I've been away from the Trail and woods for far too long. I've got two months to get in better shape, and the treadmill is turning out to be my friend, especially in this Florida heat.

    I think that if worse comes to worse I'll just put on my headlamp and keep plodding....
    Long-distance aspirations with short-distance feet.... :jump

  19. #19
    AT 11,000 Miler
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    I would not want to drink the water straight from the creek/river either. But isn't that what water filters are for? Or are we now claiming that water filters are not effective?
    You should study what your typical backpacking water filter removes and does not remove. As I like to tell people, you can't put gasoline through your filter and expect cleaning drinking water to come out the other end. It doesn't work that way.

  20. #20
    Registered User LittleRock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Blue View Post
    You should study what your typical backpacking water filter removes and does not remove. As I like to tell people, you can't put gasoline through your filter and expect cleaning drinking water to come out the other end. It doesn't work that way.
    Exactly. Most backpacking filters remove particles, bacteria, and viruses but not pesticides or other hazardous chemicals which may also be in the water in more civilized areas like the Cumberland Valley in PA. Also if the water's dirty or stagnant the particles can clog your filter.
    It's all good in the woods.

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