Day 129 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1369 Hiked yesterday: 13 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 814
First, To Heather, thanks for the idea of the neon yellow shirts ... I'll start polling the hikers and see what the consensus is and get back to you.
Second, To Hata, thanks for your words of support! They DO make a difference! (and is your name Hata? or was the comment left by Hara S. with a little type-o? Regardless, your thoughts and words mean a lot to my family and me.)
Third, thanks for your patience in this late day posting. It's been a hectic day, but a great day! More about that soon.
Chipmunk got up around 6:30 AM, ate breakfast and dressed while I re-filled her Camelbak. She spent a little extra time playing with Chocolate Chip on her bunk and ended up resuming the trail where she left off the day before by 7:45 AM. We had a nice hug and kiss and re-confirmed our meet up spots before she turned to leave.
The skies were overcast but the weather held out most of the day. Around 11 AM, I decided to text Theresa, the lady with the 2 children who came out to meet us the night before and signed the Chip Mobile. I asked if she was still interested in a cup of coffee together and she said she was. We agreed to meet at the same spot as we had the evening before. I was surprised to see her walking down the road towards me, carrying a cup of coffee. She lived only a short distance away and took the time to freshly grind coffee and brew a cup for me. She even asked if I'd like milk and sugar and brought extra sugar with her. I thought it was such a nice gesture. We sat down at a picnic table with her daughter, Eliza, while I enjoyed the gourmet coffee. Eliza had picked some beautiful wild flowers for Chipmunk and couldn't wait to give them to her.
We talked for quite some time and found that we had a lot in common. She was such a relaxed and good mom and it was nice to see. So often, parents are overloaded with work and other commitments and it's hard to find the time and patience to let kids enjoy life. I read online the story of a mom who made a decision to never again say, "Hurry up!" to her children. She caught herself saying it about so many things: "Hurry up and get dressed, Hurry up and eat, Hurry up and get to bed ..." The author of the article realized that she had overloaded her life with so many things that she lost sight of the things that make life really good: time with your children, discovering all the little joys of life that so often escape us when we are at a hectic pace. I liked the article ... and I liked seeing that Theresa "got it" and definitely wanted her kids to be kids.
We talked a while and then she suggested that Chipmunk and I get showers at her house that evening if we'd like. I told her that would be a wonderful treat. She told me where she lived and said stop over whenever. She said she would be doing a spinning class with friends in her garage around 7 pm but that other than that, her schedule was flexible. It was a nice offer and I felt a sense of security around her.
I waited a while longer for an update from Chipmunk at the midday meet up spot. While I waited, a few other hikers arrived and took advantage of hot dogs and soda at a local food truck. I recognized quite a few and enjoyed chatting with them. "Uncle Buck", a hiker who left the trail due to injury, was helping slack pack a few hikers. Once they were loaded in his car, there were 3 hikers and me left. I saw a banjo strapped to one of the packs and I inquired about it. He asked if I'd like to hear a song. I smiled and said, "Absolutely!" He broke out the banjo and another hiker his guitar and they did a couple of awesome duets. I video'd it on my phone and will be posting it to instagram or facebook soon. Unfortunately, my battery died before I got any still pics. There is so much talent on the trail!
As I waited, Chipmunk arrived. She pulled off her boots, had a bite to eat (last night's left overs ... YUM!) and was soon ready to head out again, wanting to put in another 3-4 miles before the storm rolled in. She and "Lady Mac" headed back to the trailhead within 10 minutes of each other and apparently hiked together for most of that section. I decided to take Theresa up on the offer of a shower while Chipmunk hiked and drove to her house.
When I arrived, I found a REAL house! It reminded me of my home when all 3 of my kids were young. It had the finest art work: crayon portraits, painted and glued pictures by the kids. There were colorful mobiles made by the kids and there were forts in the living room made of couch cushions and pillows. I was at home immediately! I told her how wonderful her home felt and she smiled, knowing I got it.
I showered ... ahhhhh, the joy of a shower without a time limit, without needing to put quarters in as soap runs into my eyes. After showering, I received a message from Chipmunk that she had finished hiking and I drove to pick her up. Lady Mac was with her, taking a break before hiking on to her camp spot for the evening. I gave her a cold soda and they said goodbye to each other and we piled into the truck camper and drove back to Theresa's.
After Theresa's class wrapped up, the kids headed for bed, Chipmunk headed to her bunk and Theresa, Peter and I hung out at the dining room table and talked for a while. It was very relaxed and easy. While we talked, Theresa opened a bottle of wine and we soon found ourselves in a "grown up girls" pajama party. Peter headed to bed and we talked about all kinds of things. She told me that she was really glad to see that we were talking about depression and mental health on the blog. Like most women, she, too has had her struggles with it, especially after each of her children were born. I told her it's near impossible for any woman to be unaffected since our bodies go through so many hormonal and chemical changes over the course of our lives. I'm glad that so many of our readers have also opened up and joined the conversation.
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)