Day 96 Appalachian Trail, VA Miles Hiked to Date: 971 Hiked yesterday: 8 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1212
Chipmunk awoke early with the plan to get back on the trail and hike as much as possible in the cool morning air. We left our friends' home after a great night of sleep and headed to the trailhead where she left off. When we arrived, we saw "Santa's Helper", a trail angel who provides shuttle service for hikers from trailheads into town. He was awaiting a hiker's arrival and we chatted a short time while Chipmunk finished pulling her boots on.
Chipmunk looked a little sad before leaving and I asked her if she was O.K.; she said that she was tired of the hiking in the heat and just feels like she'll never get out of Virginia. I told her we are getting closer and closer to Harpers Ferry and that before she knew it we'd be there. I didn't mention that she has a good 2 months of hiking in the heat left. We discussed a mid-day meet up spot and an evening pick up spot before we hugged and kissed good bye. It was already 80 degrees at 7:30 in the morning.
After leaving the trailhead this morning, I entered the coordinates for the evening meet up spot into Evil Vengeful Rosie the GPS. Good News! She found it immediately and spit out directions. I debated even driving towards it, figuring it must be a commonly used road because Rosie spit out the directions so quickly. PLUS, it was a named AND numbered road! I almost texted my friend, Lynn, to see if she wanted to hang out pool side while Chipmunk hiked ... but, then I decided I'd better be sure I can get into that meet up spot before I meet up with Chipmunk mid-day.
First, I posted the blog at the local McDonald's. I got a free coffee refill, jumped in the truck and headed towards the late day trailhead meet up area. Rosie directed me up some beautifully paved roads that became narrow at certain points but otherwise, very passable. As I drove further on, some of the uphills and descents were steeper than I was used to but the truck was handling it so I thought that was a good sign. When I got to the top of the mountain, Rosie told me to make a right off of the paved road and onto a gravel road. I turned onto the road and once I was under the trees that bordered it, I could see that it was a halfway decent road and that the trailhead was about a mile away. When my eyes fully adjusted from being on the sunny road I came off, I noticed that the dirt on the road was 2 different "shades". In fact, the left side of the road was wet and a little muddy. The right side was normal. Hmm, I wonder if the whole road is going to get muddier the further I ride down the road.
I checked my cell phone and, of course, I had no cell service. I thought about getting stuck and having no way to reach my road side service, Chipmunk or anyone else. I checked the time and it was a little before 2 PM. Before Chipmunk left on the trail, I thought she said, I'll see you at the trailhead at 3 PM. So, I figured I had plenty of time. I started to do a 3 point turn to get back out of the gravel road. When my front tires hit the muddy section, they just didn't grip well. I hate to say it, but I panicked a little. I put it in reverse and probably hit the gas pedal a little more than I should have and I heard my wheels spin before the truck jerked backwards. I backed up as close as I thought was safe to the edge of the road and then turned the wheel hard and pointed the nose of the truck uphill. I almost made the full turn but had to back up again. This time, the wheels really hesitated and spun some dirt out. I took a deep breath and eased off the gas pedal. I carefully pressed down again and the truck moved back. Eventually, I got it back up to the trailhead and onto the paved road. By the time I got there, I was in a full blown sweat. Many a driver wouldn't have been so panicked but I guess I have "my days".
Since that was the only viable meet up spot in the next few miles, I decided that Chipmunk ought to end out her day's hike at the midday meet up spot, hike through the muddy road meet up spot the next day and shoot for a better meet up spot. Hmm. I wasn't pleased with telling her to shorten her hike day because I couldn't get in there.
I decided I'd better check what would be the following day's meet up spot and drove to the GPS coordinates that took me to a sign at the end of a driveway that read "TRAILHEAD PARKING". Unfortunately, it was a steep driveway that came off a banking turn in the road. In other words, it was prime for getting the truck camper stuck on the ridge. UGH! I drove further up the road and found a clearing only a tenth of a mile away. There were a few vehicles parked there and a fellow with a pack and poles standing next to one. I pulled in and asked if he thought I could park there to meet a hiker and possibly overnight. He said he knew that hikers used that parking area but that he's pretty sure they don't allow overnight parking there; just in the parking lot at the bottom of the TRAILHEAD PARKING signed drive. He said his truck had trouble getting in and out of there so he used this lot for his day hikes. I thanked him and drove on to meet Chipmunk.
I pulled into the midday meet up spot trailhead at 2:50 pm, turned off the truck and figured she'd arrive shortly. Within seconds, I heard, "Mom!" and I yelled, "Good Timing. I just pulled in." She said, "I said to meet here at 2 PM and I got scared you got in an accident." I told her I thought she said 3 PM. She said, "I texted Lynn and Dad; and I called Cori. I'm sorry." I told her not to apologize; that she had done what I told her to do if I wasn't where I said I'd be. She and I immediately started calling, texting them to let them know we connected and everything was good.
Next, I drove Chipmunk to the next day's meet up spot and showed her where she'd have to walk out of the trailhead parking, up the hill, around the curve to the clearing where I'd be parked. She took it all in and said she thought it would be no problem. We headed back into Front Royal and she asked to get some ice cream. We stopped at Spelunker's, had some burgers and ice cream and talked for quite a while, enjoying the Air Conditioning. After some time, we headed to Walmart and picked up some essentials we needed while we waited to meet up with Lynn, Rick and Eleni for our last dinner together before Chipmunk hikes away from Front Royal.
We met at Los Potrillos and had really good Mexican food. We laughed and talked and realized we all were quite tired from the late nights and early mornings. We returned to their house and soon all fell asleep. Chipmunk and I got up even earlier to try to beat the heat and after a bunch of hugs, we headed to the trailhead.
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)