Day 143 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1530 Hiked yesterday: 14 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 653
But for now, we're grateful for a sunny day and good hiking weather. After we finished our morning routines, we chose our meet up spots for the day. We walked with her to the trailhead, hugged and kissed her good bye and watched her walk onto the beautiful sunlit path.
We held hands and walked along the road back to the Chip Mobile in the warehouse parking lot. It was a really pleasant morning and we discussed where to go for Wifi. Papa Chip and I are both a bit tired of the McDonald's experience and decided to see if the local bagel place had wifi. We parked and walked in to the best smelling breakfast place I'd been in in some time. We looked up on the menu board and found a long list of specialty cream cheeses, followed by a selection of bagel sandwiches. The front case offered bagels by cool names like "El Nino", "Hurricane" and "Tornado". There were pumpernickel, rye, whole wheat, egg and most of the regular choices as well.
It had been a long time since we'd had a good bagel. We ordered open face bagels with cream cheese (mine was a sundried tomato mix), sliced red onion and tomato, sprinkled with salt and pepper. As they were being prepared, I asked if I could plug my laptop into the wall and if there was a password for Wifi. The lady at the counter smiled and said, "Oh, we don't have wifi but you're welcome to plug in." Oops! Being so enamored with the bagel selection, we forgot to ask if they had wifi before we ordered. Oh well ... in the end, we just relaxed and noshed on bagels and talked. It was nice.
Afterwards, we drove to a nearby market (Guido's, I believe) and found they had wifi we could access from the parking lot. With the fully charged computer on my lap in the front seat of the truck, I typed out the daily blog while Papa Chip surfed the web on his phone. Chocolate Chip stretched out between us and snoozed. While we were sitting there, an employee came out to the parking lot and asked about all the signatures on the camper. It was soon obvious that he'd never heard of the Appalachian Trail so we filled him in on it. I am surprised how often we meet people in towns where the trail passes right thru it, who have no idea what it is. It's part of our country's history and heritage and there ought to be an aspect of it in our children's curriculum.
When I finished, Papa Chip started the truck and stared at the gauges for a moment before putting it in gear. I asked, "What's up?" and he said, "I'm not sure. The Volt gauge ought to be registering 12 volts but it's been wavering between 8 and 10 since soon after I installed the new alternator." I said, "Hmm. What do you think that means?" He said, "I'm not sure. Never saw that happen before. Everything seems to be functioning correctly but I'm going to keep an eye on it." We set the GPS to the coordinates the A.T. Guide gave for our midday meet up spot and drove out of town.
We found the trail path easily and as we walked into the woods, we heard laughter and talking. Once my eyes adjusted from the sunny-ness to the shaded woods, I saw that the hikers breaking down tents had familiar faces. It was (from left to right in the photo) Schnitzel, Beeline, Dutch, Wicked Minor (kneeling) and K Bizzie. I hadn't seen Dutch since Bland, VA and I was glad to see he was still on the trail and looked great! I asked if he knew how and where his old hiking partner, Cheesesteak, was. He said, "Oh, he got off the trail in Pennsylvania with a torn ACL." I was so disappointed to hear that. Cheesesteak was a good hiker and a lot of fun. Luckily, his adventure ending injury occurred pretty close to his hometown area. Dutch told me that while Cheesesteak was recuperating, he made trips out to Pennsylvania trailheads and did Trail Magic (cold sodas, snacks, etc) for his fellow hikers. I smiled. Good kid.
Once the hikers had their tents packed up, they headed back to the parking lot to load most of their gear into the trunk of Beeline's car. They've been slack packing lately, carrying only snacks, water and the bare (or BEAR?) essentials to get thru their hiking day. They drop the vehicle ahead, hitch hike back, sometimes leaving one to hike Southbound and pass off keys and then meet back up at the end of the day. It's a pretty common practice. There's story of one hiker who actually hiked the trail both North and Southbound at the same time in one year. Apparently, he drove to the first trailhead, hiked 8-10 miles to the next trailhead north, turned around and hiked south back to his car. Then he drove to the same trailhead he just hiked to, parked and hiked out of there the next day, repeating the process until he made it all the way to Maine ... with his car on hand to drive home. Impressive!
Papa Chip was looking at the kiosk and Chipmunk wandered over to check out the map that was posted. In a corner of the wall map was a small Appalachian Trail map with the entire trail shown in a bold yellow/red line. Chipmunk placed her hand on the map, covering the section from Springer Mountain in Georgia to the spot marking her current location and said, "Wow, look how far I've come!" Papa Chip said, "Yeah. About 7 inches." Chipmunk laughed out loud and I smiled. Our family has a way of keeping each other humble.
She ate her tuna fish sandwich and discussed if she thought she could make it to the end of day meet up spot. She asked if we thought there'd be wifi there; that she had some things she wanted to look at online, wanted to touch base with her friend, Ganina. I told her I had no idea but that we'd probably be close enough to a town to find wifi if it was really important to her. She smiled, pulled on her pack, kissed us good bye and headed back onto the trail.
We drove towards our late day meet up and came upon a sign for Beartown State Forest. I told Papa Chip to turn in; that I wanted to see if they had camping, showers, etc. I also mentioned that the water spigot in the camper sputtered after lunch, indicating that our water supply was low.
We saw a ranger in front of the main office and asked about camping. He said that it was all primitive tent camping and that there were no showers. He asked about the signatures on the camper and I explained about our daughter hiking the trail. He asked if we'd heard of the recent hiker's death after falling from the falls area and I nodded, all of us shaking our heads.
I asked if he knew where we could possibly re-fill with potable water and he cheerfully said, "Right here." He walked to the side of the building, turned on the spigot and came back with a hose. While Papa Chip filled our water tank, we talked about other possible camping areas but everything he knew of was south of there. I'm very programmed to go North at this point and really hate the idea of going South. We thanked him for the info and for the water, then we drove off in the direction of the end of day meet up spot.
It was down a rather long dirt road known as Beartown Mountain Road. Luckily, our GPS's were pretty accurate and we found it easily. We parked and waited. After some time, an older man drove up and let his big black dog out to walk around as we all chatted. He told us that he was the original owner of KayBee Toy company and we discussed all the ins and outs of owning and running a business. Of course, his company was on a much larger scale than our former event business but we found a lot of common ground and agreed on some of the same business theories. Now, his company is gone and so is ours ... and there we all were in the middle of "Beartown", letting our dogs run and play together. All of us were pretty much at peace with no longer running a business; preferring to be out in big open spaces than cooped up in an office.
The next closest town was quite small but Chipmunk noted she had a signal when we came close to the library, which was closed for the evening. We parked in the empty lot and we all zoned out on our phones for about 30 minutes. Chipmunk downloaded some fan fiction for late night reading, I caught up with fb friends and Papa Chip ... well, I don't really know what he was looking at online. Whatever it was, it illicited a giggle from him every now and again. (Probably, cat videos.)
I said, "Yeah, it does. But I'm thinking the chances of a snow plow turning around here in August are slim to none." He looked around, nodded and parked in a pretty level spot. I know he was a little uncomfortable with it but I was perfectly fine with it. He IS DEFINITELY the more "upright citizen" amongst us.
Papa Chip got dinner made and we ate while Chipmunk told us about her hiking day. She said, "Nothing too exciting ... lots of trees, you know. Oh yeah, and there was one bear. He was on the trail about 50 feet ahead. I saw him and thought about taking a picture but then while I was stopped a bunch of gnats started buzzing around me. I was waving them off and slapped my hands together to clear the air in front of me. As soon as I did that, the bear looked up and scampered away quickly. Sorry. I didn't get a pic." I was frozen in place with my eyes wide. I calmly said, "Uh, yeah. In the future, don't worry about getting a pic." Soon after dinner, we were all snoozing in our bunks. I didn't hear even one car pass by us in the night. And I definitely didn't see a Snow Plow.
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)