Day 198 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 2118 Hiked yesterday: 13 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 66
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!"
Thank you, Suzie I. (Talker's mom), for contributing to Hike for Mental Health! Chipmunk, Papa Chip and I really appreciate you supporting this very worthy cause. If Talker hasn't made it home yet, we hope he makes it home safely soon. Give him a hug from me when you see him.
When the alarm went off at 5:30 AM, I slid out of my bunk, noting that my legs weren't nearly as stiff as they had been. I climbed down and cringed when my bare feet touched the cold camper floor. I searched in the dark and found my slip on shoes and then shuffled my way to the camper potty.
Papa Chip and Chipmunk stayed asleep even as the water pump whirred when I filled the stainless steel coffee pot with water. While it heated, I pulled peanut butter, jelly and bread from the overhead cabinet and started making Chipmunk's sandwich by the light of the stove top hood. I realized that I've done this so many times that I could probably do it without turning on a light.
Soon the water was hot enough for Chipmunk's "goat"meal so I woke her. Chocolate Chip woke up, too and the two of them contorted their bodies in her bunk, stretching out all their muscles. Chipmunk sat up and took her bowl and Chocolate Chip became a very attentive buddy to her. I poured Papa Chip his coffee and passed it to him; then I passed out the morning vitamins.
I said to Chipmunk that I looked over the day's hike sheets from the AT Guide and the terrain looked relatively mild compared to the last few days. She asked to look at them and I passed them to her. She looked at them, shrugged and said, "Maybe. You don't really know until you get out there." When Chipmunk finished her breakfast she said to Papa Chip, "Time to walk Chocolate Chip. I need to get dressed."
Papa Chip and Chocolate Chip jumped out the camper door and Chipmunk quickly asked if I knew if there was a movie theater in town. I told her I didn't know but that I'd check when I got online later. She said if she got in soon enough she'd like to go to the movies. I nodded and finished pulling her day's snacks.
It was a bit of a drive until we arrived in town and as soon as I saw the "Rangeley" sign, my heart was in my throat. Oh my God! I just realized that we are in the section of the Appalachian Trail where Geraldine Largay, an experienced thru hiker from Tennessee went missing this past July and has yet to be found.
I felt the muscles in my neck and shoulders tighten and I had to remind myself regularly to relax them. Papa Chip and I stopped in the local diner for coffee and hopefully wifi and soon found out we'd just be having coffee. The waitress let us know that the library opened at 10 AM and that they definitely had wifi.
Papa Chip and I sat talking over coffee for some time before he asked what was bothering me; that I looked distracted by something. I told him that I was quite worried about Chipmunk hiking this section of the AT because of the missing hiker. He tried to assure me that she'd be fine but I can't say it made me worry any less. He reminded me that if anything happened, her SPOT GPS device would help us get to her quickly. Again, I was still worried.
I took care of some online banking, caught up on national news and sorted emails. In between, I checked and re-checked the SPOT page and had a little fun on Facebook. Papa Chip has been dealing with a cold for the past week and suddenly got a nosebleed in the morning and again in the early afternoon. He said it's probably because of the dry winter air. It concerned me but he told me he was fine.
Around 2 pm, we checked Chipmunk's SPOT Page again and could see that she was making very good progress. We decided to wrap it up at the library and head out to the trailhead. Just before leaving, I consulted with the librarian regarding the nearest movie theater. She told me that there was one in Farmington, about an hour away. Hmm. I took the theater's address and thanked her for her help.
We drove and found the trailhead easily and parked the truck camper so that we had a good view of the trailhead. I pulled out my phone and worked on a food shopping list while Papa Chip played Candy Crush on his phone ... yep, he's addicted to that crazy game ...ugh!
We both got bored and antsy around 4 pm and took Chocolate Chip for a walk outside. It was a beautiful afternoon and Papa Chip remarked how lucky we've been where weather is concerned. I nodded but my mind was back to thinking about that missing hiker. It's so strange that she disappeared without a trace. I'm truly trying not to dwell on it but it is disconcerting to have Chipmunk hiking the same area.
Chipmunk scooped up Chocolate Chip, who was eager to sniff and kiss her all over. When we all arrived back at the camper, Chipmunk put Chocolate Chip down and gave me a hug as she undid the clasps on her backpack's chest and hip belts. She passed Big Red and her poles to Papa Chip and then leaned in and kissed Papa Chip's cheek and said, "Thanks, Daddy."
Once we were all together in the camper, Chipmunk asked if there was a movie theater nearby. I told her that the closest theater was about an hour away as I was told by the librarian when I inquired earlier in the day. The smile slid off Chipmunk's face and she resigned herself to taking off her boots. Papa Chip said there were a few cool stores in Rangeley that we could check out, mentioning that one sold Gelato.
Chipmunk shrugged her shoulders and said, "Gelato is more your thing, Dad. Is there any place with wifi?" Papa Chip smiled and said, "the Gelato place has wifi." Chipmunk laughed and said, "Gelato it is!" So, we drove into town and checked out the very cool "Inner Eye" Gelato/Coffee/wifi place. It had super comfy leather chairs that swiveled and rocked. There were tons of cool stuff for sale ... the kind of things you might find at one of the independently owned shops on South Street in Philly. We were all fascinated by one item in particular and decided it would be a cool birthday gift for Brother Chip, who we'll see when we visit family in South Jersey after Chipmunk finishes "playing in the woods".
Papa Chip had some Espresso flavored Gelato and Chipmunk had a giant brownie and a big cup of milk. I had a sample of each of their treats but decided I wasn't in the mood for anything myself. Most everything else in town was closed for the night so we piled into the truck and drove back to the trailhead.
Camping there overnight assured us an early start in the morning. Once we were parked, Papa Chip took Chocolate Chip for a walk while Chipmunk and I changed for bed. When Papa Chip returned, we had a sobering conversation. We told Chipmunk that in the next few days, she'd be hiking through the area where the missing hiker disappeared. We told her to be extra cautious and to be hyper aware of her surroundings.
We also told her to stay on trail no matter what but that if she saw anything along her way that might be related to the case, she shouldn't disturb it. She should photograph it and press the GPS location button on her SPOT device so that authorities can easily locate it again via the coordinates. We didn't want to scare her; we just wanted her to be a conscientious hiker. Although we never met Geraldine Largay, we do care about her as we do for every member of the 2013 AT hiking family.
I'd like to say we were able to change the subject to something lighthearted before we went to sleep for the night, but it didn't happen. We all said "I love you" and "good night" to one another. As I rolled on my side and Papa Chip put his arm around my waist, I wished I had reception out at the trailhead. I desperately wanted to hear Brother Chip's and Editor's voices. I wanted to know that they were okay. That would have to wait, for now.
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)