Day 149 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1626 Hiked yesterday: 20 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 557
I excused myself as I set about securing the truck and camper for the ride into town. As I walked past Papa Chip, I heard him chuckle. He stepped into the camper after me and said, (after the SOBO walked away), "Uh, yeah. And I wonder if he realizes that if A-O hadn't assisted him, he'd never have gotten that fire going."
We've run into hikers with a similar attitude; trying to discount what Chipmunk is doing. Mind you, some also try to diminish other hikers' feats, as well. Since there is seldom official recognition or award for fastest speed and/or youngest age records, it all comes down to "unofficial recognition" by their hiking peers.
I think the efforts to diminish what others are doing comes down to something I recognized in a friendship that used to drain me. The fellow in that relationship confessed that in order to feel good about himself, he had to put me down. I realize that EVERY hiker on the trail is doing a Herculean task and that those that are still on the trail are an ever dwindling elite group who are tired, sore, fatigued and emotionally exhausted. At this point, I have nothing derogatory to say about any hiker who is still putting the boots to the trail after months and months of being away from home, being bitten by relentless bugs, dealing with every kind of weather, missing family and friends and pets. I mean ... I'm not even hiking and I struggle with it. I also have a lot of respect for hikers who have put their heart and soul into a thru hike and ended it early because that's what was right for them.
Amy, who had hiked with Chipmunk the day before and planned to hike with her this day, arrived and told us that her knee was just too sore to hike. Chipmunk told her she understood and that she had to get on the trail. We knew that Amy's knee might keep her from hiking so we had a contingency plan in place. Chipmunk pre-decided that she'd hike on alone and try to make it to the next viable road crossing because she hates shelter stays.
We talked with Amy, whom Chipmunk trail named "3 Second Delay" before we all headed toward town. Amy went back towards home and we headed the opposite direction to the Dunkin Donuts in Bennington to post the blog. We agreed to touch base at the end of the day and plan for another hike day together if that was possible.
As I typed the blog that day, I received a phone call from my son. It was great to talk to him and hear the excitement in his voice about a possible career move. Our relationship has grown and we've gotten closer in the last few years. I'm glad that I trusted his choice to move to his dad's when he was 17. As parents, we sometimes think we are the only ones who know what's best for our own children ... and most of the time, that holds true. Lucky for my son and me, we both had enough respect for the other to move forward even when it felt like the "ship was off course." We can't always see the world through our loved ones' eyes; sometimes, as hard as it is, we just have to blindly trust in them.
When Chipmunk texted us that she might not be in before dark, I felt my stomach clench. I know she's a good solid hiker and has a headlamp ... but it still sent fear through me. I finished up the laundry and Papa Chip drove us towards the trailhead. It had started raining and it grew more steady as we went up the mountain. We had to take an indirect route to the trailhead since Hurricane Irene had totally washed out some key roads.
We found the forest service road and it was near dark when we arrived at the trailhead. I looked at Papa Chip with a worrisome look and he said, "I'll pull my headlamp and a light pack, some water ... just in case, I need to hike in." When it was dark, I told him to please go to the trailhead and see if he could see anything.
I went into the camper and decided to stay busy, by doing dishes. When they were done, I called my older daughter, Editor, and told her the situation; asking her to talk with me so that I had my mind occupied while I waited. She gladly did and I was grateful.
Once her boots and wet clothes were in a pile on the floor and as she was pulling on her pajamas, she said, "I think I wrote a pretty good fan fiction in my head. I'll tell you more about it later. Right now, I just want to rest."
Papa Chip parked the truck and climbed into the camper with us. I started making Ramen noodles and soup, a good ending to a rainy day. It was ready pretty quickly and we all devoured it quietly. As soon as Chipmunk slurped her last noodle, she set her dish aside and said, "Good Night." We said, "Good Night" back to her and told her we loved her. I don't know if she was still awake by the time her head hit the pillow. I'm proud of her but I'm also worried about her. She had made plans for the next day but I didn't know if she'd follow through on them on the heels of 2 longer back to back hiking days. I crawled into my bunk and cuddled with Papa Chip. Just as I was falling asleep, I felt a few drops of water from the ceiling. I reached down to the end of the bed, pulled the big wool cover up to absorb the droplets and then slipped into a denial induced sleep.
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)