Day 182 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1942 Hiked yesterday: 11 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 241
First, Thanks to Jen T. for the personal message; You and Peanut have been so supportive of Chipmunk and our family! And you're right, it's never too late. That said, remember that although there's a lot to be said for the families we are born into, there's even more to be said for the families we make for ourselves as we venture through life.
We parked and woke her. We all fell easily into our morning routine. I got water going for morning "goat"meal and coffee. Papa Chip walked Chocolate Chip and Chipmunk stretched and then dressed. She was out of the camper and ready to hike by 6:45 AM. We hugged her and kissed her and snapped a quick pic as she headed back onto the Appalachian Trail.
My heart sunk as I read it, knowing how her friends and family members must be feeling. Another hiker recently told me he saw an online news clip that said the missing hiker's husband has recently posted a $15,000 reward for information in the matter. It's all very sad, very strange and very unsettling. I told Papa Chip I wanted to get to wifi right away and track Chipmunk via her SPOT GPS device. He hugged me and assured me that our daughter was okay.
We went into town, found an outfitter with WIFI and posted the blog. We lingered online a while and then decided we ought to start looking for the late day trailhead meet up spot since Maine has proven to be much like Georgia and Tennessee, when it comes to forest service roads. Here, they are called "logging" roads.
I'm glad Papa Chip is with me for this part of the journey. He has always had a good sense of direction ... and I think he passed that gene onto Chipmunk. Although Evil Vengeful Rosie tried to have us turn down a road that just plain didn't exist, Papa Chip was unfazed and continued driving until he said, "I think that's the road towards the pond we are meeting her at."
I have no idea how he knew but darned if he wasn't right! As we rode along the road, he slowed and said, "Watch for white blazes." I didn't watch for white blazes because I've just never had any luck locating the trail that way. I watch the ground at the roads' edge for evidence that several people have passed through there. I look for flattened foliage, bald spots, etc. ... then, I look up into the woods at those spots for white blazes. Luckily, we've both gotten pretty good at finding illusive trail/road crossings; Unluckily, we can't make a living at it!
We found the trailhead and parked the truck off the side of the road. We walked up and verified the white blazes were there and then about 15 feet inside of the trailhead, we spotted a hand carved "AT" sign with an arrow on it. Hah! Definitely, the trailhead. Then, we looked for where the trail goes from there. Although the AT Guide did not say that the hikers should follow the roadway for about a tenth of a mile, that was exactly how the trail went.
Chocolate Chip came with us and we walked along side Moxie Pond to where it narrowed and there was another AT sign, indicating to hikers to cross it. We looked out across the pond and we could then see where the trail resumed on the other bank. We walked back to the truck camper and I decided to clean up the inside while we waited. Soon, we heard voices and some of the same familiar hikers emerged from the trailhead. They stopped to say Hi and asked if we happened to know where the trail went. Papa Chip gave them the "low down" and they hiked onward, saying they planned to be in Monson late that night or early the next day. We wished them well.
FYI, Monson, ME is the official southern end of the "100 Mile Wilderness". Hikers leave from Monson and hike approximately 115 miles North through a mostly uninhabited wilderness before they enter Baxter State Park and climb Mount Katahdin, the official Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail. Most hikers are on foot only and rely on outfitters and shuttle services to bring food drops into the 100 Mile Wilderness and to shuttle them out after they summit. Our family will be doing it a little differently. Chipmunk will likely hike 1-2 days on her own, meet up with us, overnight in the camper for a night and then re-pack 2-3 days' more worth of food before going back out for another 1-2 days in a row.
We've just learned that the 100 Mile Wilderness has "Toll Gates", which we had not heard of during any of our prior research. We've heard they charge $10 per person to go into each section, each day. If we leave with Chipmunk and drive into a neighboring town for any reason, we'll have to pay for ourselves and Chipmunk to re-enter each day. Since this is "new" to us (and our budget), we'll be talking with shuttle services in Monson and Millinocket to get a better grip on how we can make this work soon.
Meanwhile, around 3:15 pm, we heard Chipmunk call out to us from the trail. Chocolate Chip was eager to greet her mom so we let her out of the camper to run and meet her on the mostly untravelled dirt road. Chipmunk and Chocolate Chip returned to the camper and she was about to remove her pack when Papa Chip suggested that she complete the road walk portion of the trail. While she walked, he drove the truck camper to a clearing that was tucked away off the road almost directly across from the spot where she'd ford the pond the next day.
When Chipmunk arrived, she said she was done for the day and after talking for a while, we all found books to read to pass the time until dinner. Papa Chip made spaghetti with sauce and parmesan cheese. We ate, we enjoyed, we went to bed. It was only 8pm but we were all ready to hit the sack. Chipmunk had a bigger hike planned for the next day and we wanted her to be well rested for it.
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)