Day 115: Boiling Springs PA, and a trip to the theator

Miles Hiked: 19.8
Miles Left: 1067.6
Ending Location: Staying at the Allenberry Resort Inn and Playhouse, Stopped at mile 1117.7

I found myself on the trail this morning by myself. Sunshine was feeling very sick so her, Youngbeard, and Owl ended up zeroing and skipping ahead to Boiling Springs instead. I on the other hand had the ambitious goal to hike 19 miles that day and meet them in town later that night.

It certainly was good terrain for a high milage day. The trail in the park followed an old railway track so it was mostly flat and rock free. Even when the AT eventually broke off and left the park it was easy going. The only thing I needed to keep an eye out for were people running along the trail. With the lack of rocks, proximity to the park, and it being the weekend there were a ton of joggers out. Being the slow one I always tried to get off to the side of the trail to let them pass but it was a bit disheartening to see someone going back and forth while you trudged on with your pack.

At the first shelter of the day I came across a beer sitting on the shelter log. My initial reaction was “Woho! Trail Magic!”, but on reading the last journal entry I saw it was left for someone’s friend who was lagging a day behind. Since I’m all for giving your friends a hard time I reluctantly left the beer where it was. That was probably for the best as it was still early in the day.

Near mile 1110 in AWOL’s guide it lists “Rock Maze”. I found out that was a pretty good description since that point was actually a mountain covered with huge boulders. Rather than going up or around them the trail weaved in and out of the crevices and paths created by the rocks. This led to some interesting trail paths where the entrance and the exit would often be a couple of feet away from each other but you would have to scramble fifty feet to follow the real trail and hit every white blaze. It was a ton of fun and really helped liven up the day.

Near the end of the day I stopped by the Alec Kennedy shelter to take a quick break. As I was there it started to rain a bit which was annoying. It’s never fun to be tired and wet. Reluctantly though I put on my rain gear and pushed on. Shortly afterwards I came across the halfway rock which was a reproduction of the original AT halfway marker. Around then the rain stopped misting and things cleared up a bit which was much appreciated. Then it was down the mountain and the start of the Pennsylvania farm section of the trail where the AT runs right between farmers’ crops. There wasn’t much of that today but the next day would contain a lot of paths through the fields. These sections of the AT had been seized using eminent domain when it was being built and the story goes the farmers are still mad about it to this day. I didn’t have the chance to talk to any farmers to confirm this, but I have to say it was a fun switch up to find myself walking through fields of wheat.

The last bit of the trail for the day went through downtown Boiling Springs PA. There used to be a huge foundry operation there and the main remnants of that were the springs themselves which had been turned into canals and walled ponds to support the foundry. Now they served as the center of the town park and made the place quite fancy. This was one of the few towns that has seemed to prosper after the disappearance of the iron jobs and the area I walked through looked very well to do. Considering the “local” bar was a five star restaurant and the only hotel was a country club/resort/theater company, you can kind of get an idea of what the place was like. The AMC headquarters was also here but surprisingly it has a reputation of not being very friendly to hikers. They do mostly administrative stuff there so it is simply not set up to provide services for people currently on the AT.

Luckily the Allenberry resort and playhouse was extraordinary hiker friendly. Rooms were only $40, when normally they would go for much, much, more. Admittedly they put hikers in their own building to separate us from the paying guests, but hey the PA fly fishing museum was in the basement, (supposedly it was haunted), so I’m not going to complain. They also had a great common area there with pool tables, couches, and TVs for the hikers to enjoy.

Unfortunately they didn’t have any plays showing that night or Monday afternoon so I instead went to find Owl and company after getting settled in. Not surprisingly they were in the bar, which looked like it hadn’t been remodeled since the 70s with the dim lighting and carpet covered walls. The drinks were surprisingly good and cheep and the food was excellent though so we had a great time. A couple of the owners were also there meeting one of their daughter’s boyfriends. I got the distinct feeling that their grandfather had founded the resort and since then all if the kids have been living off of it and using it as their personal playground. They certainly liked hikers so I can’t complain though!

After that it was time to do laundry and spend some time cleaning and repairing my equipment. It had been a while since I had stayed in a hotel and while hostels are nice you really can’t doctor your equipment there like you need to. Hotels are nice since you can fully unpack, spread things around, and make full use of the shower, sink, towels, and hair driers. Because of all of this it turned into a late night but it was worth it.

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