Yesterday morning, Chipmunk was up by 6:30 AM and out on the trail at Wilbur Dam Road by 7:30 AM. She had a 16 mile hike and we encouraged her to keep a decent pace since we planned to pull into a campground for the evening. She kissed us goodbye and left as the sun shone through the trees. We entered the campground we had planned into our GPS, saw the general direction and then searched for a McDonald’s and its free WIFI. There was one about 5 miles from there so we pointed the old Dodge that direction and started driving. During the ride, I received a few text messages from “the editor”, letting me know she wasn’t
feeling well and was going to the doctor’s office, near her home in Jersey. She promised to keep me posted. Even when they’re adults, kids will make you worry.
With the blog posted, and Twitter messages sent, we headed towards the campground. We got to check in a little early and got a spot right near the shower house. After cleaning up the camper, we both got showers and felt very human again. We opened the laptop to
check where Chipmunk was on the SPOT page and it looked like she was keeping a good pace. After a bite to eat and a little down time, we drove towards the TN 91 meet-up spot.
When we pulled into the parking area, there were several hikers lounging under a tree. We chatted for a while and then they hiked onward. While waiting for Chipmunk, I got an update from my older daughter, “the editor”, saying that she could be having appendicitis; that she’d need a CT scan to find out. I asked if there was any other diagnosis; she said, possibly cholic, which is what the Dr. was leaning towards. I asked if there were any meds they could give her today that would make Cholic subside within 12-14 hours. She checked and they said they did. I suggested that she take that and see how she feels in the morning. If the pain gets worse, she should head to the closest Emergency Room. She
went with that plan. Hopefully, she’ll be well enough to drive the 5 hours from Jersey to Williamsburg, VA to meet us for our family get together on Thursday and Friday.
While we waited, a hiker who was waiting for a pickup from her mom, noticed that I had cell reception and asked to use my phone. I gladly lent it to her. After she hung up we asked about her hike. She explained that she and her mom had started the trail together but that her mom’s knee gave her problems and she had to leave the trail. She told me that they were section hiking parts they missed when her mom started the trail with her dad 2 years ago. They’re also planning to “flip flop”, hike North until it gets hot, then drive to Katahdin (Maine) and hike south in cooler weather. She said, “I guess it’s not really the right way to do it, but …” Papa Chip cut in and was quick to point out that there is no “right way”; that any hiker who puts their boots down on the trail is an AT hiker; any hiker that hikes every bit of the trail, is an AT thru hiker. There are hikers who tent camp every night; some stay in hostels, some in hotels; some stay in shelters and in our case, our daughter has done all of them. Some filter their water with hand pumps, some use tablets. Some sleep in hammocks, some in tents and some sleep in a sleeping bag on a tarp under the stars. But, they all get up every day, lace their boots on and tackle the trail. They all meet some kind of challenge they are hopefully prepared for but may never have experienced before. They all hurt. They all get tired. Most all of them push through. Not everyone makes it and we hope but we are not sure that Chipmunk will make it. We’re just glad to watch her grow as a person, figure out life on the trail and we will be proud of wherever she makes it to. She has far out hiked any trail we’ve ever done. (She has currently hiked 445 miles.)
Around 6:15 pm, we heard a voice that sounded like Chipmunk. We listened again and then Chocolate Chip jumped up and spun around looking for where her mom’s voice was coming
from. Within minutes, Chipmunk was in the parking lot. As we helped her load her pack into the camper, we asked about her day. She said it was pretty good but that she got stung by a bee. A BEE! I HATE BEES! I’m not allergic; I’m just irrationally scared of them (and cops and Meningitis). She said she felt something on the back of her arm, went to brush it off and got a sudden sharp sting. She took her bandana and dipped it in the nearby stream and held the cold damp cloth against the back of her arm. Holy Smokes … we prepared her for bear encounters, snake crossings, tic bites … we didn’t even talk about bee stings. Oh well, she handled it well.
We drove towards the campground and told her that we picked up some easy microwaveable pizzas, and Marie Callendar’s Chicken Pot Pies. She lit up and said, “Pizza?” We assured her that her pizza was plain cheese. We chatted and I enjoyed hearing how her hiking day went. Earlier hikers said it was a “rough day”. When we told her that, she said, “It wasn’t bad. There was one 1000 foot ascent and then it was just mile ups and downs throughout the day.” I really think she’s got her hiking legs now.
We will be driving to Damascus first thing today to stop and see some manufacturers’ reps we’ve been chatting with online. Then we’ll drive onto Williamsburg where I scored a condominium for the night on hotels.com for only $54! It’s a great place we’ve stayed before
and it has a queen size bed in the bedroom and two twin size beds in a loft plus a small living room and kitchenette. If all goes well, by evening, 4 out of the 5 of our family will be
together. (Captain Oblivious, my son, will hopefully meet up with us as we get closer to Jersey.) On Friday, we’ll drop Papa Chip at the hotel where his cycling group will meet up and then Chipmunk and I will drive the 6 hours back to Damascus, VA for the huge Trail Days Festival there. I will be taking pictures and tweeting about it via my Twitter handle @ridethenation.
FYI, we are trying to build support and maybe even get some sponsors to help in the expenses of Chipmunk’s quest to become the youngest solo thru hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail. We could use your help. 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 left of today’s blog post. Feel free to forward our website link (or email updates) to your family, friends, co-workers, etc, (www.ridethenation.org). Chipmunk maintains a twitter account: @openlymtngoat where a common hashtag is #GoChipmunk and she can receive
personal messages directly to her email: email@example.com. She or we (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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)