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  1. #1

    Default PA/MD/WV Conditions in March/April, and drop-off advice in PA

    Hello!

    I am looking to section-hike in southern PA, MD, and WV in late March / early April.

    Can anyone please comment on trail conditions I might expect? (Maybe I will need to bump this the week prior.)

    Are microspikes worth packing? Gaiters? Snow baskets? Bear canister?

    Lastly… Long question, I’ll try to be concise: I am looking to get dropped off somewhere close to the PA Turnpike (Harrisburg, PA area), and I’ll need to drop a package there on a Sunday (to be picked up the following Friday). Any suggestions/options?
    Doyle Hotel (Duncannon, PA) – I called, and they don’t think they’ll be open on weekends yet (but they said to try calling back in a couple weeks).
    Allenberry Resort (Boiling Spring, PA) – I called, and they’re available 24/7 to accept my package to be stored at the front desk.
    • I had really been hoping to start a little further north; are there other options in Duncannon? (Duncannon would work out great due to very close proximity to Route 15 for package pickup the following Friday. Yes, long story.)

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2

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    Late March is still pretty early for that area. While there is a small chance of a wet snow storm the end of March, most likely it will be a cold rain. You should expect mud more than anything else. Early April is the transition period between winter and spring and can swing wildly back and forth between the two. It can be a miserable time to be on the trail. I'll be heading north from Harpers Ferry April 15th and am hoping the weather is much improved by then or I will not be a happy camper.

    No bears in that area.

    Not much in Duncannon other then the Doyle. There are a couple of motels a few miles out of town on the highway, not a road you'd want to walk along. True fully, you don't miss much by starting at Boiling Springs as opposed to Duncannon.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  3. #3

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    It’s still winter in this area through April most years. Can’t speak to the other question.

  4. #4
    Registered User
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    Oh there are bears, I've camped between rt. 7 and Harper ferry 100's of times cooking bacon, steak, pizza, whatever using food bag for pillow. This year and others my buddy at work harvested a 180 lb. Bear in that area he also showed me trail cam of a 400 lb. + mamma with 2 Cubs, that caught my attention. They all think I'm crazy to go out like I do without a gun .

  5. #5

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    the package question I did not understand.....So I cant really help with that. I know that's one of my favorite stretches of trail thru there and I will be repeating it in mid may. Even down south march and april are iffy months unless you don't mind being wet and cold. Unless you do not have a choice in your timeframe, I would push this hike back to end of April if not then may.
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  6. #6
    Registered User Mikerfixit's Avatar
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    Unless it drys up suddenly expect it to be cold, and windy with a good chance of rain/freezing rain. The two stream crossings south of Ravens Rock will most likely be flooded and the trails will be slick with mud and ice with small streams running through the trail so it would be like hiking in a creek bed.

  7. #7
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    As far as trail conditions go, it’s been so wet here in MD for the past 16 months that even a light drizzle causes standing water. Unless we get a significant warm spell with no rain, the trail WILL be muddy. If it rains at all while you’re in this section, expect standing water and lots of small creek crossings that are normally dry.
    Best of luck to you!


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  8. #8

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    I'm definitely bringing my knee length gaiters and brand new waterproof boots. I hate wet feet.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  9. #9
    Nalgene Ninja flemdawg1's Avatar
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    The Post Office in Boiling Springs is across the street from the ATC Office. If you expect to pick up on Friday, that's an option, just mail it from home instead of dropping off. there's also a lady in BS that runs a hostel out of a shed/outbuilding. No idea if she'd take a maildrop or not. https://www.google.com/travel/hotels...ByaW5nc5IBAiAB

  10. #10

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    Thanks for the replies!

    I am tied to those dates, because I will be back on the east coast for a couple of back-to-back weddings.

    Hopefully, mud and rain will be better than not going at all What is the general stance on hiking the AT in lots of mud? Would it be considered destructive to the trail? Should I consider not going?

    Lastly, to clarify:
    • I must start somewhere close to the PA Turnpike / Harrisburg (I'll be at the mercy of my gracious friends dropping me off)
    • Ideally, I'd like to leave a package (wedding stuff) at the location I start.
    • Ideally, I'd like to also leave the package near Route 15, as I have other friends who will be traveling along Route 15 five days later, and they can retrieve the package.
    I'm just exploring the option to save the hassle/cost of packing/mailing it to myself. It sounds like worst case scenario, a drop-off at Allenberry Resort in Boiling Springs will work out ok, except that it will cut my hike 25 miles short (compared to a start in Duncannon).

    Thanks again!

  11. #11
    Nalgene Ninja flemdawg1's Avatar
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    LOL, if people waited until the AT was NOT muddy, it'd never be hiked. Maybe Trailangel Mary can help. https://www.facebook.com/trailangelmary She lives in Duncannon near the Doyle.

  12. #12

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    Yes it is destructive to hike muddy conditions.

    But if you do go, why not waterproof your parcel and leave it hidden in the woods at the trailhead. Tape a $20 bill in a ziplock to the front of it, and say the parcel is a gift and to please instead take the $20.

  13. #13

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    For the storage part:
    The Christ Lutheran Church in Duncannon is very hiker-friendly and could, potentially, help out. In the summer, they hold free spaghetti dinners for AT hikers every Wednesday night. They advertise those dinners widely--in Duncannon and on their website:
    http://www.clcduncannon.org/appalach...ker-meals.html
    They don't advertise storage for hikers, but you could ask....

    There is a shuttle driver who also operates a bunkhouse. (Not sure if he'd store something, but worth asking.) But it's further south in Fayetteville, definitely out of range of your desired plans. Of course, you could have him shuttle you to Harrisburg/Duncannon, but that would add to costs. He's on the shuttle list posted her on WhiteBlaze. Look for:
    eRobert George Freeman (a.k.a. Junker)

    Best of luck!! I hiked that section of the AT last summer and really enjoyed it.

  14. #14

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    Thanks again for all the replies (the helpful ones as well as the trolling ones)! I'll close the loop here with a mini trip report, I suppose.

    Trail Angel Mary worked out great for my package drop-off and pick-up. She is truly an angel!

    The region was blessed with some awesome weather (warm and dry) the week prior to and the week of my section hike. Mud was essentially a non-issue. I was happy to bring gaiters, but even happier to not use them Deadfall on the trail was also not bad at all. There were a couple windy days, especially at Darlington Shelter, but not terribly cold.

    No bears that I saw... haha. Don't think I even saw evidence of mice in the four shelters I was at. Just a couple mosquitos starting to bite, though.

    There were a couple stretches in this section (particularly through some pastures near Boiling Springs) that were super flat that made for some quick days.

    Crowded shelters in the area already. A handful on NOBO thru-hikers in the area, a bunch of flip-floppers, and some section hikers like myself (especially in Maryland).

    Quarry Gap Shelter is the nicest I've stayed at. Thanks to The Innkeeper for the maintenance at this shelter! (Interestingly, this was the only night of the five that I was by my lonesome self.)

    The ATC in Boiling Springs was closed due to staffing issues.

    Harper's Ferry has a new (as of November-ish?) vegan restaurant called Kelley's Farm Kitchen, on Washington Street close to the ATC, that was phenomenal! Humongous portions, very fresh veggies, and it is operated by a super-nice couple. Open Thurs-Sun only, it looks like. A couple of NOBOs recommended it to me, and I would strongly recommend it as well.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cereal View Post
    Thanks again for all the replies (the helpful ones as well as the trolling ones)! I'll close the loop here with a mini trip report, I suppose.

    Trail Angel Mary worked out great for my package drop-off and pick-up. She is truly an angel!

    The region was blessed with some awesome weather (warm and dry) the week prior to and the week of my section hike. Mud was essentially a non-issue. I was happy to bring gaiters, but even happier to not use them Deadfall on the trail was also not bad at all. There were a couple windy days, especially at Darlington Shelter, but not terribly cold.

    No bears that I saw... haha. Don't think I even saw evidence of mice in the four shelters I was at. Just a couple mosquitos starting to bite, though.

    There were a couple stretches in this section (particularly through some pastures near Boiling Springs) that were super flat that made for some quick days.

    Crowded shelters in the area already. A handful on NOBO thru-hikers in the area, a bunch of flip-floppers, and some section hikers like myself (especially in Maryland).

    Quarry Gap Shelter is the nicest I've stayed at. Thanks to The Innkeeper for the maintenance at this shelter! (Interestingly, this was the only night of the five that I was by my lonesome self.)

    The ATC in Boiling Springs was closed due to staffing issues.

    Harper's Ferry has a new (as of November-ish?) vegan restaurant called Kelley's Farm Kitchen, on Washington Street close to the ATC, that was phenomenal! Humongous portions, very fresh veggies, and it is operated by a super-nice couple. Open Thurs-Sun only, it looks like. A couple of NOBOs recommended it to me, and I would strongly recommend it as well.

    Its interesting to come on here and receive advice and then go out and actually do the trip and compare the feedback you got online to how inaccurate it becomes on trail isn't it? lol

    If people waitied till there wasn't mud on the AT then no one would get to ever hike it.


    Nice trip report
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
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    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  16. #16
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    Great feedback and trip report. Sorry the mud evaded you. It’s a mix, if we don’t get anymore rain for a while here in MD, the trail will remain mud free, however that also means our water sources will dry up very quickly.

    Hope you enjoyed the area!


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  17. #17

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    any insight on office hours for ATC in Boiling Springs? Closed indefinitely?

    Sounds like you enjoyed yourself!! Thanks for the trip report!

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by chknfngrs View Post
    any insight on office hours for ATC in Boiling Springs? Closed indefinitely?

    Sounds like you enjoyed yourself!! Thanks for the trip report!
    I did enjoy myself!

    My impression, at the time, was that it is closed indefinitely. There was a sign on the door saying something like "CLOSED DUE TO STAFFING ISSUES". This was last Monday, probably early afternoon.

    But I suppose it could have just been closed on that day, or on select days, until closer to summer? Maybe call the office during business hours and see? (I called just now and the answering machine didn't mention anything about any closures.)

  19. #19

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    Regarding mud... It sounds to me, based on the responses here, that the general guideline for the AT is to just hike it, with no reservations about it being too muddy? The reason I asked is that I am used to the standards for mountain biking (don't be that guy who destroys the trails for everyone for the season!) and even in the Adirondacks (trails unofficially closed to hiking sometimes to prevent trails from being destroyed when wet).

    Either way, conditions were great last week. I appreciate all of the kind words and encouragement!

  20. #20

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    Cereal,

    Just wondering if you stated at the Ed Garvey shelter, and how busy it was?

    We are taking a few scouts who've never backpacked before from Gathland State Park to Weverton Clifts on a 2 day overnite hike, as an introduction to backpacking.

    Thanks!
    “Two important factors are essential in work of any kind – get it done right and on time, but never sacrifice right for time.” Waite Phillips

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