Day 113 Appalachian Trail, Pennsylvania Miles Hiked to Date: 1158 Hiked yesterday: 18 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1025
I drove Little Bird to the trailhead. Shortly after I arrived, I saw 2 more familiar faces: hikers from Northeast Philadelphia, whom I’ve had a few discussions with about what a real Philly Cheesesteak is. “Candy Face” looked miserable and warned Little Bird that the bugs were unrelenting on the trail. She said she knew from having hiked south the day before. Candy Face and her hiking partner had just hiked 2 miles north and were so frustrated by the bugs that Candy Face declared she wanted to quit the trail.
I gave her and her hiking partner a cold drink from the cooler and Little Bird declined a drink and bid us all goodbye. I told Candy Face that she might want to get a bug net. She said that she wanted one but needed a ride to a Walmart or somewhere that might sell one. After telling her I had seen bug nets at the Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World in Harrisburg, she begged me to take them there saying they’d pay for gas. I had plenty of time before the midday meet-up and if a bug net was all that stood between her and resuming the trail, I was glad to oblige.
We climbed in the PWTTC and drove into Harrisburg. Candy Face got very excited seeing civilization. There was a Sheetz convenience store/gas station right next to Outdoor World and after I dropped them at Outdoor World, I told them to meet me there. I ran into the store and picked up a coffee, some ice for the cooler and one more item.
I returned the hikers, with their bug nets, fresh coffee, and convenience store goodies to the trailhead. Candy Face hugged and thanked me and after stuffing their packs with goodies and donning their nets, they resumed the trail. Chocolate Chip and I got back in the truck and I pointed it towards Wifi. I posted the blog, checked the time and drove to the midday meet-up spot. I was thrilled to find an actual parking lot with room to turn the PWT truck camper around.
Soon after I arrived, I saw a hiker come in and recognized “Wiz”. I asked if he’d like a cold soda and he smiled. When I told him the variety I had on board, he was stunned and opted for a Mountain Dew. It was not as hot as it’s been lately but a cold soda always makes a hiker happy. We sat and talked for a while and a few other hikers joined us, each happy to score a cold soda. Wiz stayed after the others hiked on, saying that he was hoping the crew he hiked ahead of the day before would catch up to him there.
A few of the earlier hikers remarked that there was a big black bear along the trail today and I wondered if Chipmunk had seen it. I didn’t have to wonder long. She emerged from the footbridge and when Wiz beat me to the question, she said she didn’t see any bears, followed by, “But I don’t mind bears; they’re better than snakes.”
She pulled off her boots and put her Crocs on to air out her feet while I started making her Grilled Cheese and Jersey Tomato sandwich. She retreated to the cab of the truck when it started to rain and I passed her my cell phone via the pass thru windows when Papa Chip called. They chatted as I tried not to burn our sandwiches, with minimal success. The three of us talked hiking and biking and generally found lots to laugh about. I can’t believe he’ll be back in less than 3 weeks! Chipmunk and I are really looking forward to his return. After lunch, Papa Chip said he had to go and Chipmunk said she had to go … and so the three of us headed off in different directions again: one on foot, one on two wheels and one on four wheels.
I drove to the end of the day meet up spot and did some light clean up in the truck. I noticed my phone was blinking and it was a message from the Editor. I called her back and she said she had the next day off work and wanted to meet up with us; that it was probably the last chance we’d all have to meet her boyfriend, Dillon, who will be leaving to teach English in South Korea soon. She’s been dating him for about 10 months and we’ve only had a few phone interactions with him since we live in Florida and the Editor lives in Jersey.
As much as I wanted to see the Editor and meet Dillon, I was hesitant because Chipmunk had just had an (accidental) Zero Day. I pondered it and then decided to leave it up to Chipmunk. I texted her and told her the news, adding that the Editor wanted to buy her a ticket to Hershey Park and meet there. Wow! Her text response came fast: “YES! YES! YES!” I gently reminded her that she might need to push for bigger miles per day since we are definitely behind where we thought we’d be by now. She agreed and the Editor was happy to hear it.
I went online to look for an affordable campground between where she ended the trail for the day and Hershey Park. We both needed showers and it was time to “dump the tank”. After quite a bit of “googling”, I found one, about 20 minutes from Hershey, that would only charge $20 for the night.
When Chipmunk came into the trailhead, she was eager to head towards the campground. She stripped off her boots, wrapped a fleece blanket around her as her muscles cooled down and we drove towards the campground. The light rain that had been falling became a huge downpour. I was glad I had closed the vents in the camper earlier. Once we got off the highway and were close, the rain slacked off and we hit Wendy’s for an easy dinner. We arrived at the campground around 8:30 pm. I filled out the paper work and got a space near the shower house. When I walked back out to the truck, the rain started up again. Ugh.
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)