Free on the Boxcar (+video)

The October day was crisp and windy, but that was just a good excuse to steal away to northern Dauphin County, Pa. to the top of a mountain.

The ridgelines of the eastern Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania are where you’ll find many opportunities for rock climbing. Some are well-known, such as Boxcar Rocks (aka, Chinese Wall). But a great many crags of bumpy conglomerate lie miles from the nearest road and probably require a day or two of backpacking. That’s been a passion of mine over recent years: packing in on a multi-day hike, and cataloging the exposed rocks that were thrust and eroded over the past 300 million years. I’ll be making a better effort to find and document those in coming posts.

But on that wind-swept day this past October, my friend Drew Schrock and I explored Boxcar. We found a gem that offers a diversity of climbing and bouldering experiences for nearly every skill level, as well as realized much of the crag running north has never been explored, much less cleaned and documented. [continued below video]

Free on the Boxcar from Jim T. Ryan on Vimeo.

But I also found that Boxcar, like too many other scenic and climbing crags in the east, has fallen victim to the worst elements of our overpopulated megolopolis. Namely, the graffiti vandalism at Boxcar is reaching distressing proportions. This part of the county is less populated than the greater Harrisburg area to the south, but any area inhabited by humans will suffer from those who care not for the purity of nature, much less respect and courtesy to leave it pristine for those who come next.

That’s why I’m working on organizing a spring cleaning at Boxcar to pick up general trash and scrub the paint from the rocks.  I’m looking for anyone willing to spend a day (or more) on the cleanup, as well as anyone who can provide sponsorship of this event, and resources and knowledge on cleaning graffiti. You can email me at

Please join me in this effort. We respond to environmental indifference with massive, popular, conservation volunteerism. Together, we can show that stewardship is the majority. Thank you.

~ Jim T. Ryan, publisher

Appalachian Outdoor Journal

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