Day 71 Catawba, VA Miles Hiked to Date: 696 Hiked yesterday: 15 Trail Miles Miles to Katahdin: 1487.4
First, Hello to all of our new readers … and welcome to the madness that is Chipmunk’s Quest to become the youngest solo thru hiker on the Appalachian Trail. As for a brief explanation, I’m Chipmunk’s mom and I follow her off the trail, meeting her at mountain gaps and road crossings most every evening. She typically stays in my truck camper and when that is not possible, she stays in A.T. shelters and/or hostels.
Second, Thanks to Gmom for your generous donation! Can’t wait to see you, Aunt Janice and whomever else decides to meet up with us in mid to late July as we get to your neck of the woods.
Third, sorry for the late day posting of today’s blog. Although I try to get it posted by midday daily, sometimes the hike gets in the way of blogging about the hike … ironic, eh??
I drove up the mountain roads and again enjoyed a paved journey. I found the hostel easily and drove up the long driveway. The A.T. Guide described it as a “3 bay garage with shower” so I kept my expectations low. It was indeed a 3 bay garage in a farm setting with a few dogs lounging, a few chickens and a bunch of hikers.
I met Four Pines Hostel owner, Joe, and asked if I could wait there until Chipmunk finished her hike today. He offered me a pretty flat spot to park the po’ white trash truck camper and told me I was welcome to get a shower, too. As I said, I was keeping my expectations low; boy, was I pleasantly surprised! Yes, the garage looked like a garage with a mish mash of older couches, chairs, lawn furniture, etc. but it was also quite relaxed and “homey” feeling. The shower stall was plenty large enough for one and the water was hot; the pressure was good, too. It felt so good to get a shower.
Around 8pm, the skies turned dark, opened up and dumped a substantial amount of rain. Hikers scurried to pull sleeping bags and gear that they left to dry out from the clotheslines outside. I decided to drive the 3/10 of a mile from Four Pines Hostel to the trailhead even though Chipmunk and I originally planned for her to hike from the trailhead to the hostel. I worried that with the rain and darkening sky, Chipmunk might not be seen by a passing driver, especially since Newport Road had no real shoulder.
Joe’s 14 year old son, Josh, offered to join me and show me exactly where the trailhead was. I took him up on the offer and we dashed from the garage to my truck, bringing Chocolate Chip with us. Josh showed me where I could turn around, just past the trailhead, so that I could pull into a little clearing right in front of it. We were parked for about 15 minutes, chatting about Chipmunk’s quest when he said, “What if she broke her leg?” I looked at him and said, “She didn’t break her leg. She’ll be fine; but, thanks for putting that in my head!” He laughed and to pass the time, he showed me video footage on his phone of him riding his motorbike. Around 8:30, I said, “If she’s not here by 9pm, I may need to use your dad’s computer to check her location via the SPOT device webpage.” He said, “I’m going to look up the trail and see if I see her.” Before I could object, he jumped out of the truck and ran up the trail.
I fixed a dinner of Camper style Pasta Primavera: sautéed zucchini, squash, onions, green pepper and tomato over whole wheat spaghetti, generously covered in butter and parmesan cheese. Realizing there would be about a full serving left after Chipmunk and I had our plates full, I invited Midway to join us. Earlier, she noted that she was craving vegetables so I surprised her and she was delighted.
Around 9:30 pm, Chipmunk and I hit the sack. My “sack” was wet! We’ve yet to have a long enough dry day (while Chipmunk wasn’t hiking) in order to repair the camper’s roof leaks so I just deal with the drips from the vent over my bunk. We slept in a bit, knowing that Chipmunk had only a 6 mile hike planned for Monday. (WARNING TO SPICY JESUS, who hates feet talk, DO NOT LOOK AT THE NEXT 2 PICTURES OR READ THE NEXT 2 PARAGRAPHS.)
She headed out of the hostel, walking the .3 mile to the trailhead while I again washed dishes. The hostel owner, Joe, stopped in about an hour later saying that Josh texted him to let him know that he decided to hike with Chipmunk today. Hmm. Interesting news, especially since Josh told me that he didn’t really like hiking. I guess that all changed after meeting Chipmunk the night before … either that or his 14 year old boy hormones kicked in.
I noted that she left about 11 AM and calculated that she’d reach the trailhead about 3 PM. After dishes were done, I dried out some of Chipmunk’s gear on the hood of the truck. I was really glad that Vasque and Darby Communications had given her 2 new pairs of her favorite boots (Breeze 2.0) at the Trail Days fest in Damascus. She left her wet boots with me and donned a completely dry pair of boots for the day’s hike ahead.
FYI, Chipmunk was interviewed by WDBJ7 TV news and the online written version of the interview is available for viewing at http://www.wdbj7.com/news/wdbj7-14yearold-attempts-record-on-the-appalachian-trail-20130610,0,2317664.story if you’d like to check it out. Unfortunately, we won’t see the video version of it because we are not near a television during its airing time.
If you’d like to send Chipmunk words of encouragement or birthday wishes (her birthday is mid-June), her email address is email@example.com; if you’d like to send her a birthday card, she can receive mail or packages up until June 14th addressed to: Tammy/Neva Warren, C/O Middle Creek Campground, 1164 Middle Creek Rd, Buchanan, VA 24066. Be sure to mark mail “For A.T. Hiker, ETA 6/14/13”.
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 right (not 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. She or we (email@example.com) 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)