Day 58 Mt. Atkins, VA Miles Hiked To Date: 554 Hiked that day: 14.5 Miles to Katahdin: 1630.2
First, Thanks to my Gal Pal Val, who truly is the most giving person I've ever known ... generous beyond belief. Last night, she informed me that she and Spicy Jesus are having a laptop refurbished for me and will have it ready in about a week so that I won't have the expense of replacing the one that fried; and it will be easier to post the daily blogs (that Spicy Jesus lives for, LOL!) wherever I am. I tried to refuse it but she went "all ME-MAW on me" and told me to "Stop Tal-king!" Of course, I am aware that there will be a tracking device installed in it so that Spicy Jesus can stalk us easier ... tee hee hee! Thanks again to both Mayor and Spicy Jesus! You both amaze and surprise me ... and make me realize that Damascus may just be home some day.
Second, GMOM: I'm sorry we have missed each other's calls. I truly do want to catch up and I will call you again (and again) when I get a signal.
Chipmunk walked closer to get a better look at the "baby" and the ponies quickly skittered off and then she said she felt bad that she had disturbed them.
While she "communed" with her new furry multi-footed friend, Six and I whiled away 4 hours! talking about life. It was so relaxing that we both lost track of time. When Six got hungry, he pulled out his cook stove and food. I looked at the clock on my phone and was shocked to see that 4 hours had gone by.
It never ceases to amaze me how resourceful and inventive the hikers are. They prepare wild greens they find, ramps (wild onions), fish, etc. that they pick up along the trail and streams. Most all of them respect areas that are posted with signs saying do not do so, especially inside park boundaries.
Soon, Chukkles, another hiker I hadn't met before, joined us for a short time before hiking on. Tinkerbell said she wanted to wait until Chipmunk arrived; she'd heard a lot about her and really wanted to meet her. She didn't have to wait long. We all heard her call from up the trail, "Mom, I'm OK. Coco, Coco, Mommy's here." Chocolate Chip's ears went up and she headed in the exact opposite direction of the trailhead. Oh, well ... at least she's cute!
When I was in town earlier in the day, I got a phone call from Papa Chip telling me that he thought his bike tour group was close to where we were in the town of Wytheville. I looked on the GPS and it was about a 30 minute ride away. Although we knew we would see each other in Damascus when his tour passed through there on Tuesday and Wednesday ... I couldn't resist the opportunity to see him NOW. Chipmunk liked the idea, too, so she unloaded her pack, greeted the hikers and then we pointed the truck in the direction of Wytheville. Chipmunk was surprised that I was driving the mountain roads as well as I was and told me that I was doing well with that in Papa Chip's absence. That made me feel really good.
We arrived at the Presbyterian Church on Church Street in Wytheville and saw the big Adventure Cycling Van and trailer. We pulled into the parking lot and soon Papa Chip and his co-leader, Lee, came out and greeted us. We all went into the church, that was hosting them for the night, and we met all the riders. While they asked Chipmunk all kinds of questions about her ride, Papa Chip made cheeseburgers for Chipmunk and me. He also served us Chocolate Cake and yellow cake ...YUM! It was a pleasant surprise and although Chipmunk loves her Mac 'n Cheese, she was willing to delay that meal to another night.
After Chipmunk got a shower in the Church, and the hikers got ready to sleep, we returned to the parking lot to find a level spot to park for the night. Unfortunately, the Presbyterian Church lot was completely a slope ... not even close to level anywhere. I didn't want to drive back to the trailhead at dark so I started wondering where is a safe place to park. I remembered that the West End Methodist Church had given me their business card during the recent trail magic at Lindamood School and I pulled it out. Sure enough, their church was located in Wytheville! I put the address into the GPS and it was only blocks away. I kissed Papa Chip good night and told him I'd look forward to spending more time with him in Damascus the next day and then drove to the West End United Methodist Church.
In the dark, I couldn't see the entrance to the parking lot or the parking lot itself but I did notice a perfect level parking spot right in front of the church office. I pulled the PWTTC (po' white trash truck camper) into the spot and Chipmunk, Chocolate Chip and I quietly climbed into our bunks. Just as we said good night to each other, our phones started "da-dinging" like crazy. Apparently, we were parked in an AT&T "blessed" zone! It is so seldom that we have a cell. service signal AND wifi at the same time that we both looked at each, grabbed our phones and started reading emails, etc. I started posting pictures on Instagram and found out that a lot of our readers were also up very late at night. I poked and played around on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, email, etc. until my battery died around 1:30 in the morning. I couldn't get right to sleep and I remembered there was a Reese's bar in the fridge that the West End Methodist Church had left for Chipmunk when they had to leave before she arrived at Lindamood School. I quietly got it and opened it and enjoyed a middle of the night treat.
In the morning, I confessed my middle of the night "thievery" to Chipmunk and she forgave me ... and thanked me for not waking her to ask if I could take it. We dressed and walked Chocolate Chip and then we saw a car pull into the church driveway. I recognized the lady from the recent trail magic and I waved to her. She looked stunned to see me there, then realized I was Chipmunk's mom. She invited me into the church office where the secretary called Pastor Richard Lindamood and told him we were there. He and his wife, Carol, came over to the office and were so excited to meet Chipmunk. I told them I had parked out front and wanted Chipmunk to be able to thank them personally for the great trail magic they did and continue to do for the hikers. We chatted for quite some time and before we left, the church secretary handed something to Carol and she handed it to me. It was a gas gift card for Sheetz convenience store. She told me she knew how much fuel it must take to follow Chipmunk around and they wanted us to have it. I nearly cried (yes, I know, I get emotional and overwhelmed at the kindness that has come our way on this trip!). Then Darlene, the church secretary came from behind the desk and pressed a $20 bill into my hand, telling me that she had won money on the lottery just yesterday and wanted us to have it to help with Chipmunk's expenses. Then, I did cry. Until 2 days ago, I did not know these people; and truth be told, I still didn't really know them ... I just knew their kindness. And I suppose that's about the best part you can know of any person. I wiped my eyes and then we all joined hands while Pastor Richard led us in prayer. Although he's never met Papa Chip or any of the cyclists, he included them in his prayer along with Chipmunk and all of the hikers on the Appalachian Trail.
I hugged them all, thanked them again and promised that I would take pictures of their son, "Hardtack", who is on the trail now, ahead of Chipmunk. I told them I'd post pictures of him whenever I saw him so that they could see him once he hikes further North and is not within driving distance to see. I wished them all well and we left. Again, my faith in humanity was restored and I left feeling "lighter".
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 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)