Day 105 Appalachian Trail, Maryland, Pennsylvania Miles Hiked to Date: 1060 Hiked yesterday: 12 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1123
Nonetheless, Chipmunk thought it was really cool. She strongly adheres to the "Leave No Trace" approach to hiking but liked finding this little bit of surprising history.
I drove towards the midday meet up point, as the day was getting hotter. As I headed up a rather steep and winding (but paved!) road, I spotted a brown Appalachian Trail sign AND a parking area. Sweet! I pulled into it and looked over my A.T. Guide and realized that it was about 2 miles before the midday meet up spot. I was pretty sure she hadn't passed through there yet so I stayed right there.
She told me that she recently called her mom and told her that there was no way she'd be able to complete her hike all the way to Katahdin by the time her fall college classes started. She expected her mom to tell her that she needed to quit early, come home and prepare for college. When No Poles Polly told her mom that she knew going to college was a pretty big thing and that she should come home, to her surprise, her mom said, "Hiking the Appalachian Trail is also a pretty big thing" and that she'd rather see No Poles Polly finish her quest and delay college by a semester or two than to give up soon ... and so she hikes on. Kudos to No Poles Polly and her mom!
While we talked, "Dirty Dan" arrived and I offered him a cold Coke, too. He snarled his nose a bit and asked what other kind of soda I had. I told him that I had Dr. Pepper but that was Chipmunk's personal favorite and I wanted to save one or two for her. He asked, "What else do you have?" and I remembered that I put a few bags of 3 Musketeers, Reese's and Hershey's chocolate candy in the cooler. (I like to have a few items on hand for the hikers; items they wouldn't often carry since they don't have a way to keep them cool.) Dirty Dan pushed past No Poles Polly and me, reached into the cooler and helped himself to 3 candy bars. I offered some to No Poles Polly, too, and she took a 3 Musketeers bar. Dirty Dan settled into the doorway of my camper and joined us in conversation. He told No Poles Polly that the way she carried her water pouch was "all wrong". She explained that she likes it that way and it's comfortable for her. He then proceeded to "dis" women hikers and at that, No Poles Polly said, "Look, I have a mean right hook and I'm not afraid to use it." Inspired by No Poles Polly, I also mentioned that my left knee was within striking distance of him. I guess he got the message that his attitude wasn't welcome. After finishing his candy bars, he hiked away.
No Poles Polly and I enjoyed some relaxing and fun conversation and were soon joined by "Joe Cool" and her boyfriend, "B Man". They were quite grateful for the cold Cokes and cold candy bars and we all talked and laughed, trying to stand within the rectangle of shade created by the camper in the late afternoon sun. They told me that they saw Chipmunk sitting in the park eating a double scoop of ice cream and listening to a string band. After a while, they all resumed the trail.
Chipmunk came in shortly thereafter and was feeling a bit tired from the heat. I asked her if she'd like to go into the nearby town and find some place air conditioned to cool down. She readily agreed. She had hiked 10 miles to that point. We drove about 5 miles and found an Applebee's where Chipmunk ordered Orange Chicken over Broccoli, instead of rice. I told her that I was happy she ordered a vegetable without me reminding her that she needed it. She smiled and said, "I'm going to have to start being more independent soon, so why not start now?" I laughed to myself thinking, "more independent??"
The restaurant had WIFI and she asked if it would be OK if she caught up on her online fan fiction, blogs, etc. during our meal. I told her that for the length of this adventure, unless Papa Chip or I say otherwise, she can go online on her phone whenever WIFI is available since she is "disconnected" while she's hiking. She smiled and thanked me with her eyes cast down at her phone screen as she connected to the internet. We both had a nice, cool, relaxing time and at the end of the meal I asked her if she wanted to hike any more miles that day. She looked at me and I could see that she really wanted to say NO but she was wrestling with it, having hiked only 10 miles so far. All that said, hiking ten miles in this heat, with a backpack, must be exhausting. After a short time, she said, "Yes. I want to squeeze in a few more miles."
I drove her back to the trailhead and after I parked, I went back in the camper to re-fill her water bladder. When I returned to the front, I found her in tears. This is one of the rare times that I will include a photo of her in tears and I'm doing it mostly because one of her followers asked if she ever gets "down" while hiking. I assured him that she definitely does and that although she smiles in most all of the blog pictures, she has days when she has to convince herself to get back on the trail. Under the scorching sun, in this heat and humidity, she started quietly crying. She told me that sometimes it's just not what she wants to be doing but that she knows it's what she has to do if she wants to reach her goal. I told her she didn't have to go but she reminded me that it's "her hike" and that she felt she needed to get a few more miles in on the trail that day.
I assure you, she returned from the additional 2 miles she hiked, without tears, just feeling exhausted. As we rode in the truck, she said, "Hey, I crossed the Pennsylvania State Line today." We high fived and then I drove on to the local Walmart for a little air conditioning and to pick up a few more supplies. She recently developed a heat rash (many a hiker has it, too) and I picked up an ointment to help resolve it. We found our camp spot for the night and after cleaning the rash and applying the ointment, she fell asleep quickly with her book in her hands. I didn't fall asleep quite so quickly. I found myself missing Papa Chip and before I knew it, I was in tears. (Sorry, but you don't get to see a pic of that.) The next morning, we both awoke early, dressed and ate and returned 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)