Day 133 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1400 Hiked yesterday: 15 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 784
First, to Nancy K., who contributed to Chipmunk's sponsor page
on the www.hikeformentalhealth.org website ... Thank you so much! All of us "Chips" believe that the stigma of mental health issues needs to be alleviated. (If you are unable to access the link above, please let me know via a comment on this blog.
Second, to Michelle Z., I'm sorry that we did not get a chance to meet up while we were in PA, as well. We had so many family members (from our old hometown area of South Jersey) and old BMX friends who wanted to see her that we found ourselves visiting almost nightly. We are currently ironing out schedules and I will get back to you soon. Thanks for your patience.
We decided to sort through all the things Papa Chip brought back from his trip and we attempted to better organize the truck and camper. I'd say we got about 75% of it done when Chipmunk called. She confirmed that she safely crossed Palisades Parkway and wanted to let us know that her jaw was aching; that maybe she had a toothache. Ugh! So many of the hikers have had dental issues on the trail and it's always a bad situation trying to find a good dentist who will respond quickly when you are traveling. We decided to change the meet up spot to an earlier spot on her hiking day and texted her the info. She confirmed and we put the last of our stuff away in the camper and turned the truck back down the mountain. We re-crossed the bridge and found a parking space at the Bear Mountain Recreation Area.
We let Chipmunk rest in the camper, allowing the pain reliever portion of the meds to start working. Papa Chip and I walked out on the giant rocks where you could see beautiful views of Hessian Lake and way off in the distance, the Manhattan skyline. We enjoyed a chat with 2 ladies; one was from NY and the other from Hawaii. The New Yorker was drawn to Chocolate Chip and enjoyed learning more about French Bulldogs. We talked "Hawaii" and "Ohana" (family) with the lady from Hawaii and all shared a few wonderful laughs. After a while, we headed back toward the Chip Mobile to check on Chipmunk and found her walking towards us, pack on. She said she felt quite a bit better and wanted to hike on. We had hugs and confirmed that we'd see her at the original meet up spot and she headed back out on the Appalachian Trail, which passes right through the park there.
I was lost in the moment and startled when my phone buzzed. It was Chipmunk. She texted to say that she "screwed up". Because she took the break earlier in the day, she had not made it to the zoo before they closed at 4:30 pm. According to the A.T. Guide, Appalachian Trail thru hikers are allowed to pass through the zoo at no charge, instead of taking the A.T. around the outside of the zoo. She was a little disappointed but said she was hiking onward.
While we waited, we met a nice couple who parked nearby and had two young dogs they were training. They planned to camp in the woods for the night. Chocolate Chip was excited to have some four legged friends to hang with. They all got along very well and we listened to the fellow tell us about his recent kayaking adventure. We have not tried kayaking and he made it sound that much more attractive for us to look into. Thanks, my friend!
In short order, Chipmunk arrived, said hi to the campers and then peeled off her pack and boots. She had put in a solid 15 miles and was tired. She relaxed with Chocolate Chip while Papa Chip and I made dinner. After dinner, we talked for a while and then we all fell into reading: Papa Chip on the Kindle, Chipmunk on fan fiction and me on my phone, reading emails and messages from friends and family. Before I fell asleep, I looked around the camper. It's not much to look at, kinda messy and very dated. It's not exactly the comforts of my home in Florida (and yes, sometimes, I really miss it) but I felt surrounded by love and support. Today, I had eaten a salad with fixings from Theresa and Peter's garden together with package of nuts & fruit from Barbara. Lying next to me was Papa Chip, now playing a game on Aunt Carol's Kindle. Chipmunk was going to sleep in her Blue Blaze Cafe Shirt that was given to her by Val (Mayor) in Damascus. On the ceiling is art work by Eliza and a big sheet of kraft paper with messages from Mayor, Junior and some other friends. The orange hat from Barbara was hanging on a hook (ready for Chipmunk to wear during hunting season, Oct-Dec.) and a bag of DVDs from Brother Chip was on a hook near Chipmunk's bunk. In the cabinet were snacks and sodas from so many of the wonderful friends and family who have met up with us along the trail. There's also a bag of Wild Hunt Packs from Paramount Fit Foods and also openly mountain goat 'nola. In the cab, Chipmunk's hiking poles that Leki gave her at Trail Days and her spare hiking boots from Vasque, were piled next to my old gray fleece volunteer pullover that Trilogy Park BMX gave me over 5 years ago. The fan that Ellie and Mike gave us was plugged into the 12 volt outlet that Mike installed. As I looked around, my phone buzzed, letting me know that Doreen liked one of my silly facebook posts. Yeah ... it still rains inside the camper occasionally ... and yes, there are days I grow weary of hunting down Wifi, driving mountain roads to trailheads and finding a safe place to camp for the night. But, being surrounded by all the kindness and love we've been shown on this adventure has made living in this little old camper not just doable, but quite heartwarmingly happy. Thanks, my friends ... truly, for making all of this as great as it is. I look forward to taking all of you with us to wherever and whenever this journey ends.
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)