Day 202 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 2151 Hiked yesterday: 9 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 33
First, from now until the end of Chipmunk's hike, she asked me to post this link to her Hike For Mental Health Fundraising page: https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/hike/campaign.jsp?campaign=13&team=145&fundraiser=1052&
She asked me to tell our readers that she (and we) have enjoyed having all of you along for this adventure. Please consider donating to HFMH if you've enjoyed being a part of her hike. She said, "It would be the best trail magic!"
First, to Jesse M., thank you for your generous contribution to Hike for Mental Health. I'm glad you found hiking; we truly believe in hiking for mental health. As far as being weird for looking up to someone a decade younger than you, then count me in as weird, too! I admire not only my own daughter's strength but that of all the thru hikers ... and very few are my age or older.
Fourth, to Angela "aka Pokey", thank you for that offer ... the Pittsburghians are a great group of people! I'll let you know.
Fifth, to Penny "Pentertainment" (a nickname I gave her!), we'd love to connect with you in South Jersey. Right now, a lot depends on the "state of the truck". But .... Editor lives down your way and we plan on spending time with her, so hopefully we'll get to reconnect with you and your girls ... some of our oldest friends from Chipmunk's BMX racing years.
Sixth, to Mari, thanks! Yep! I'll post pics ... either here or on Facebook. You actually married a rocket scientist? What a Blast! (get it?)
When the alarms went off at 7 AM, it was still raining lightly. Nonetheless, in the words of Chipmunk, "the trail isn't going to hike itself." We all got up and started the morning routine as if it were any other hike day. Chipmunk ate her "goat"meal, Papa Chip and I drank coffee and we all took care of our morning tasks as we shuffled around one another.
Chipmunk said, "No problem, I'll get water right at the start of the trail today. That's how I get water when I'm out hiking, any way."
So, we walked the 1/2 mile down the road to where the trail crossed and Chipmunk pulled her water bladder from her backpack. She opened the reservoir and dragged the pouch through the stream, filling it near full with the mostly clear water.
Please don't think that she's drinking unfiltered stream water. She has been the envy of many a hiker because she has a Sawyer Inline Filter that is guaranteed to filter a million gallons of water as it passes from her Camelbak bladder to her bite valve. When Chipmunk did the research for this hike, she chose this filter because it gave her the easiest, fastest and most reliable filtration for the $60 that it cost. There were several choices including iodine pills, plastic hand pumps, gravity filters, etc. She and we are really pleased we purchased this filter.
We drove to a local campground that was officially closed for the year but that had a phone number posted at the camp office window. Papa Chip called the number and asked if it was possible to dump our tank and re-fill our water supply. The Manager said we could dump our tank and to leave $5 in the comment box but that their water supply has been turned off for the year, due to the dropping temperatures. We understood that and Papa Chip thanked her for her kindness. We dumped the tank and put the $5 in the box, glad to have resolved at least half of our camper issues. By then, the weather cleared up, it was sunny and it actually felt warm in the truck cab.
While online, I got a message that Vasque Footwear (via Darby Communications) had a nice "gift" for Chipmunk, Papa Chip and me. More about that very soon ... all I can say is, "I can hardly wait!"
While he was filling, the owner stepped outside and told us she was glad to help. She said that she recognized the camper the last time we were there and that she put it together that we must be that "15 year old girl's parents" that she'd seen in the news. We confessed that we were and she told us how great it was that we were supporting our daughter in this way. It was great to hear that! We thanked her for her kindness and told her we'd see her again since the AT wraps around the town her restaurant is in. She returned to the kitchen to serve up happiness to a few more patrons and hungry travelers.
We drove out and went to the first meet up spot, which we found quite easily, since there was a hiker parking area right along the main corridor of town. We consulted our Maine Atlas and Gazeteer and found the second meet up spot, which was less than one "trail mile" away. Knowing the next day's hike plan, Chipmunk wanted to squeeze in every bit of trail she could, while she could.
We left the hiker parking area and followed the map's roads around to where the AT crossed a dirt logging road. It was a little tough to find; we passed by it the first time. When we looped back around, we spotted a poster on a tree. We pulled into a clearing and walked out to see if that was the trailhead. I feared it would be another flyer about the missing hiker, but it wasn't. It was a handwritten flyer letting hikers know that the trail resumed northbound there. The flyer pointed out that the carved wooden plaque denoting the number of miles northbound to the next mountain peak, etc. was stolen. It's a sad thing that I've seen evidence of along the AT: wooden signs stolen, presumably for souvenirs. It's quite an unfortunate situation, especially for the hiker that arrives at the trailhead in search of mileage information and trail direction. Ugh.
We saved that location in our GPS device and then headed back to the first meet up spot. We parked and waited until about 3 PM, when Chipmunk emerged from the trailhead. She walked to the truck and undid the clasps on her backpack. Her cheeks were very red and when I kissed her, I remarked how cold they were. She said, "I'm not cold. Honest." She took a seat in the truck cab for a few minutes and asked if we found the next trailhead. I told her we did and asked if she was up for another 8/10ths of a mile.
She said she was and got very happy when Papa Chip told her she didn't have to do the next section totally alone. He asked if she'd like to take Chocolate Chip "hikeys". At the sound of the word, Chocolate Chip perked up and ran across our laps to the door. Chipmunk said, "Sure, I'll take her 'hikeys'", as Chocolate Chip's nub of a tail wagged her whole back end around. Chipmunk pulled on her pack, grabbed her poles and the two headed across the road and resumed the trail.
Once they were safely into the woods, we headed to the next trailhead. Within 30 minutes, they arrived. Chipmunk said it was a lot of fun having Chocolate Chip with her; that she instinctively knew where the trail went and would wait up for her whenever Chipmunk called, "wait." The two of them climbed into the camper and we had a nice, quiet evening together. We hit the sack (er ... bunks) early and set our alarms for 5 AM. Chipmunk had an ambitious hiking day planned and we wanted to be sure she'd get an early start ... even if it would be in the dark.
It was the night before her summit of Katahdin and she was camping at the base of the mountain when a couple of very fun women arrived with pizza ... her absolute favorite food! They came to bring happiness to the hikers and they accomplished their mission. The two ladies explained that a hiker I know well, SoulFlute, had appeared at Marcia's home a couple weeks ago asking if he could spend the night on the porch. He was welcomed into her home and they exchanged life stories and he told them that their kindness made them trail angels. Apparently, they loved the concept and have committed themselves to being just that! Thank you to these great ladies AND ALL THE TRAIL ANGELS, who make one of life's toughest challenges ... well, magical!
If you enjoy reading the story of our adventure, and you’d like to send some “Trail Magic” to Chipmunk, click on the “Donate” button at the upper right corner of today’s blog post. Chipmunk maintains a twitter account: @openlymtngoat where a common hashtag is #GoChipmunk . She (or we) will try to answer any questions you may have about her hike and this family adventure.
Thanks again for all your support,
Mama Chip, Papa Chip, Chipmunk and her dog, Chocolate Chip
(Tammy, Jay, Neva and Coco)