Your kind donation is a huge help and we’ll put it to good use as Chipmunk pursues her goal. We were pleasantly surprised this morning and are looking forward to sharing the good news with Chipmunk when she comes in from the trail this evening.
FYI, we added the donation button to the right yesterday after several readers asked how to donate and when we realized that this adventure may exceed our planned budget.
Also, thanks to Sheena in Canada for this link which made us laugh about our own recent mishap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PkS6LnirRI
And thanks to Dee, who found us our next RV and promised to buy it if she hits the lottery. We love it:
And now, about the hike …
After two Zero Days in a row off the trail, Chipmunk headed back to the AT yesterday @ 9am and hiked 15.3 miles from Davenport Gap (AT mm 238.1) to Max Patch Road (AT mm 253.4). While she was out on the trail, Papa Chip and I headed to the coffee shop in town to access Wifi and drink coffee, of course. FYI, I never drank coffee until I was 32 years old. Papa Chip and I met when I crashed his dad’s birthday party at the local diner. After dating a while and realizing that we were better together than we ever were apart, he told me that if this relationship was going to work, I’d have to buy a coffee pot. I did and we’ve been together ever since. Who’d have thought it
would be that easy??
We took care of our other online business, checked the SPOT page and although she had moved ahead, there were no new “bread crumbs” in the last hour. Hmm. I asked Papa Chip when the last time was that we changed the batteries on her SPOT and he said, “I’m sure they are due by now.” So, we texted Chipmunk to check if the batteries were dead and to replace them with the backup batteries she carries. She didn’t reply because she keeps her cell phone turned off, reserving its battery life for time/location updates and/or emergencies. But she would
receive the message once she did a check in with us.
Soon, it was time to head up the mountain to the designated meet up area. We entered the GPS coordinates from the AT Guide book and clicked go on our GPS. Before long, we were on winding one lane dirt forest roads. As always, I scanned the trees around us, looking for the white blazes that identify the Appalachian Trail. As we got closer to the coordinates flagged on our GPS screen, I shouted, “there they are.” Papa Chip, said, “Yep, and there’s a camp spot”. It was an almost level space measuring about 12 x 8’; PERFECT!
(That’s what we call “testosterone poisoning”.)
store specimen of a house broom. I tossed it up several times but either under or over-judged the distance / time continuum / trajectory /arc and it landed back on the ground, twice almost
nailing me in the head. I did think to myself, we ARE a long distance from the E.R. between giggles. Finally, Papa Chip said, “why don’t you just stand next to the camper and hold it straight up over your head and I’ll grab the handle?” That’s no fun …
but at least the broom was up on the roof.
I busied myself picking up the few items that had tumbled from
cabinets and counters during the hairpin turns up the mountain roads. When I stepped back out, I timed it perfectly with Papa Chip’s final sweep off. Bits of plastic and dirt landed on my head. Ugh! I said, “Really? You couldn’t have hollered that you
were sweeping things off?” He laughed and said, “Oops.”
After duct taping closed the few spots that had not completely
sealed with the earlier round of spray insulation and spraying roof sealant on it, Papa Chip then monkey’d his way back down the camper ladder. About then, a few hikers were coming Northbound towards us and we asked if they knew Chipmunk; had they seen her today? Where did they leave from and what time? They didn’t know her but had heard about her. I gave them a couple apples for their kindness and as they started to walk away, an older couple arrived and said “Hi, Mama Chip and Papa Chip”.
They asked where Chipmunk was and we said she had left Davenport Gap that morning. They said, “oh, she won’t
be here for at least 2 or 3 more hours.” They got apples, too, and were quite gracious.
While we waited, we took up our books and read. As more hikers passed by, we asked about Chipmunk and finally one, “Shanks” said he didn’t really know Chipmunk but that he passed a young girl with blonde braids and a red pack about an hour and a half ago; that both she and he were struggling up a particularly tough mountain climb.
We thanked him for the update, checked our watches and it was 6pm then. We figured she’d arrive about 7:30 pm.
At 8pm, I was panicked and Papa Chip was a bit restless and trying not to look worried. The sun was starting to set and we started talking “scenarios”. Should we pull the bugout bag? At what time do we head up the trail to
look for her? If it got dark, before she arrived, would she pull out her headlamp and hike on? Or would she
find a flat spot and do “stealth camping”? We had more questions than answers.
Knowing she had her tent, sleeping bag, change of clothes and food, I thought she might try to camp, once the last of the daylight was gone. Papa Chip said she’d definitely pull out her headlamp and hike on; that she’d rather spend that time hiking than setting up camp and sleeping alone in the woods. Luckily, the debate ended at 8:20 pm when she descended the trail. Because we both are so competitive, we immediately prodded her for an answer as to what she would have done if it got any darker. Without hesitation, she said, “I’d have pulled out my headlamp and hiked to the meeting spot.” DAMN! REALLY? It’s always that way! I have stretch marks from my neck to my ankles from these children and they ALWAYS take his side!! Augh! Well, at least she was safe.
We ate a dinner of Garden Delights pasta (has a days’worth of vegetables in every serving) and 2 different soups mixed together: Creamy Gouda Bisque and Chicken/Sausage Gumbo. It was surprisingly good and Chipmunk devoured it. She told us about her hiking day. She was thrilled to come upon Trail Magic pretty early in the day; 2
former thru hikers, “Wild Flower”and “Funny Bone” set up a table with free Root Beer, Gatorade and Chips for the AT hikers that would be passing through the trail that day around the I-40 underpass. Chipmunk said that she stayed and chatted quite a while, consuming lots of the free snacks, and especially the root beer. They told her to take a Gatorade for the road and she looped it into one of her pack’s “bottle” toggle straps. (That was the long period in which the SPOT showed her in the same area). We told her we met “Shanks” and she said, “Oh my God! After climbing that stretch, I let out this really loud moan kind of burp. And then, as I rounded the trail, I saw
Shanks sitting there resting and he said, ‘did that come from you?’” We all laughed. Both of my daughters are gifted with the ability to burp like truck drivers.
She also told us how she saw what looked like a space capsule about 50 yards off the trail. She thought
at first that maybe a space capsule had crashed there or it was some kind of memorial. Then she realized that
it was just an FAA tower. We gently reminded her that all of the old space capsules landed in the ocean,
which we were officially a good distance from. She said, “oh, yeah.”
By the time dinner was over, Chipmunk’s feet were in my lap and she had a pleading look on her face. I grabbed my hand lotion and began massaging her stinky feet. Phwew! There was 11 and a half hours of stink on those feet! She enjoyed it and apologized for the stench. By 9:30 pm, we were all in bed … in our original bunks that were dry, YES! Chipmunk started to read but gave it up quickly. I read another chapter in my book while all 3 (Papa Chip, Chipmunk and Chocolate Chip) snored quietly.
It was very quiet up there in the woods all by ourselves and I fell asleep easily. I was sleeping so soundly when I was awakened by Chipmunk’s voice. She was murmuring, “Crap! Where is it?” and then again, “Crap!” I called to her asking if she was OK and quickly she was awake and coherent. She said, “I was dreaming about hiking. And it got dark and I couldn’t find my headlamp.” I told her she was in the camper and everything was OK; to go back to sleep. She did rather quickly and luckily so did I.
wanted to look at the trees. It was peaceful.
By 8:15, Chipmunk was lacing up boots and brushing her teeth.
We had our morning hugs and I took a few pics before she headed back onto the trail. Then we pointed the truck in the direction of Hot Springs, NC where we could access internet and wait out the time until all the “Chips” could be back together.
“Chipmunk’s Pics” tab. We also uploaded one of her videos to her youtube.com page; her username is OpenlyMountainGoat if you want to check it out. We’ll be adding more.
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, forward it to friends. If they want to receive updates via email, send their address to me and I’ll add them to the list. You can also forward a link to our website, www.ridethenation.org and let them know we try to update it daily. Chipmunk maintains a twitter account: @openlymtngoat 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)