Day 94 Appalachian Trail, VA Miles Hiked to Date: 954 Hiked yesterday: 14 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1230
Chipmunk and I got an early start after a restful night. We headed back into Shenandoah National Park and returned to where she had left off the day before. She was excited at the idea of meeting the Park Superintendent and wanted to be there "on time". I explained to her that I gave a guesstimate of her arrival time; that I didn't want her rushing over the wet rocks and possibly slipping and falling. She told me not to worry. She finished her "goat"meal quickly, pulled on her pack and headed out to the trailhead. Just before she kissed me good bye, she realized that she didn't have her trekking poles. You know, I think she really was nervous!
Chocolate Chip and I watched as she disappeared into the woods and then we drove to Elkwallow Wayside to wait for her arrival. It was raining again and I was worried because Chipmunk said the rocky sections are especially tough when they are wet. We've been so fortunate that she hasn't had a major injury when so many of her fellow hikers have had sprains and fractures. I didn't want to dwell on it so I decided to clean up the truck cab a bit, moving Chocolate Chip to a different spot each time I got to the section she was lying in. She looked perturbed but complied.
At 9 AM, I ventured into the Elkwallow Wayside grill to get a cup of coffee and as I climbed the steps, I saw Chipmunk's pack under the eave out front. I opened the door to find her asking the clerk if the Superintendent arrived. She turned around and saw me and I asked if she'd like a cup of Hot Chocolate to warm her up and she said, "No. But ... do they have milkshakes?" I laughed and told her I'd get her one. She reminded me, "Chocolate". She proceeded to the cafe tables while I ordered. I joined her with both cups and she asked, "Do I look O.K.?" Again, I realized that she was nervous about meeting the Superintendent. It was quite charming to see this side of her. As she drank the milkshake, she got chilly and I retrieved a fleece pullover from the truck for her.
In a few moments, a tall man and a female companion walked up from the parking area. I figured by their official park uniforms that it must be Karen Beck-Herzog, the Public Affairs Officer and Jim Northup, the Superintendent of Shenandoah National Park. We all shook hands and Chipmunk was quiet at first but soon enjoyed sharing her hiking experience with both of them.
We talked a while longer and I found out that Mr. Northup is from the Northern part of Michigan. I told him we had ridden our bicycles there a few years ago on another adventure. As we talked, he asked Chipmunk what her next adventure would be. She said she didn't know yet. I told him that we met a hiker from Alaska who had a dog sledding business and I thought that would be a fun family adventure to do. He told us that there are also dog sledding teams in Michigan and that there's a race there that many do to qualify for the Iditarod. (Hmmm ... I'm really liking this dog sledding idea!) Chipmunk and I thanked them again for all their kindness and for the wonderful pins. What terrific memories of Shenandoah National Park Chipmunk will take with her as she hikes on towards Katahdin.
Chipmunk arrived earlier than I figured at our end of day meet up spot. I think she was excited at the idea of re-connecting with our old friends who live near Front Royal, VA. She climbed into the truck and we drove down the mountain as she told me about her hiking day. By then, the rain stopped and the sun was out. She said, "I'm getting closer to Harpers Ferry." I smiled and said, "I know." Harpers Ferry marks the halfway point of the A.T., a milestone that most every hiker sets their sites on and can hardly believe it as they close in on it. Soon, Chipmunk ... soon.
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)