Day 85 Appalachian Trail, VA Miles Hiked to Date: 826 Hiked yesterday: 0 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1357
First, Thank You, Sheena for the terrific Plantar Fasciitis therapy exercises! Chipmunk tried a few and said that her heel did feel better this morning.
Second, Helloooooo to Junior in Damascus! And thanks for your concern for Chipmunk and me. We are both feeling better. FYI, Papa Chip, Chipmunk and I also miss Damascus; it is, by far, one of the greatest towns along our journey!
Third, to Ellie, YOU'RE WELCOME for not posting pics of my tank dumping procedure! I miss you, El!
Chipmunk and I awoke to a sunny morning and both realized that it hasn’t really rained in the past couple days like it had been raining … niiiiiice! She was growing weary of the daily bouts of rain that soaked her down each day on the trail. Sunshine always seems to make the day a little brighter, in more ways than one.
After some discussion the night before, Chipmunk and I decided that she needed a Zero. As her mom, I try to find balance between helping her meet her goal, keeping her healthy both physically and mentally and letting her be a teenager. I’ve written about the “Virginia Blues” that many of the hikers have experienced and the fact that Chipmunk is not immune to this. I’ve tried to “pepper” this section of her journey with a few extra trips into town, some movies and meals out, etc. to keep her feeling connected to “regular” life as she tackles rocky climbs in hotter weather.
So, with a Zero day ahead and knowing that our Canadian friends will be meeting us in town in the evening, I asked Chipmunk what she’d like to do until then. With very little thought, she said, “Eat Pancakes!” We looked up restaurants on the GPS and decided that a local “family restaurant” might be the ticket. We drove there and parked in a shady spot and walked in with our appetites set on fluffy buttermilk pancakes, creamy butter and real maple syrup … YUM. What we got was sugary neon yellow flat pancakes, margarine and thick, fake syrup. Hmm … I needed to turn this day around quick before it continued further downhill!
We left the restaurant and ventured to the Lexington Visitors Center. Chipmunk went in and inquired about local sites while I did a 13 point turn to get the truck positioned to leave the tiny parking lot when she came out. She returned with a map and a list of places. She was smiling ear to ear and said, “There’s a bunch of Stonewall Jackson places to visit around here.” Allow me to explain: during her home schooling about the Civil War, she fell in love with Stonewall Jackson. She read extra books about him and can tell you just about anything you want to know about him, his family, his military career, etc. In fact, she’d probably first tell you that she refers to him as Thomas Jonathan Jackson, not “Stonewall”, a nickname he wasn’t fond of that was given to him during the Spanish American War, I believe.
We spent a little more time exploring the museum and the grounds before the reality of life came flooding back. Chipmunk said she wanted to wear a certain pair of jeans during her "town time" visit with our friends and just wanted to confirm they were clean. I thought for a moment and then realized that not only were her favorite jeans in the hamper bag, but also quite a few of my "town clothes". As much as I'd prefer not to have to do laundry on one of her Zero days, it was becoming obvious that it would be better for both of us (and our friends) if we did laundry.
We found a local laundromat and brought in our bag of laundry. Chipmunk brought in her Dickens book to read (I think she's reading Oliver Twist right now) and I sorted laundry. I went to the change machine and quickly found out that it rejected every dollar bill inserted. Just as I was starting to get frustrated, a lady's voice asked if I'd like to exchange my dollars for her quarters. I spun around and was completely surprised to see a hiker I knew: Nightingale! She said she thought it was me and said she'd gladly change out my dollars because she got a $10 roll of quarters at the bank recently and didn't need them all.
We talked as our clothes spun around and she, too, told me that she had gotten a bit of the Virginia Blues. The group she hiked the first 700+ miles with hiked on and she was stalled dealing with fatigue. She mentioned that she planned to rent a car and drive into Waynesboro the following day. I told her that we, too, planned to head out of town the following day and would gladly give her a ride. She offered to pitch in for the fuel expense and we agreed that we'd meet up the following afternoon.
Chipmunk and Phil have similar tastes in TV shows and movies and Phil brought her the BBC version of one of her favorite stories, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" on DVD so she can watch it on the laptop when we camp. She loved it! I find it amusing that Chipmunk and Phil sit around quoting Mel Brooks' movies, Big Bang Theory and other stuff from shows I've never seen.
We all went out to a steak dinner and enjoyed catching up with one another. We all missed Papa Chip who's still on his cross country bike tour. After dinner, we returned to the hotel and after some brief conversation, Chipmunk bowed out so she could go online and catch up with friends; Phil bowed out so he could relax and watch a little TV. Sheena and I took up spots on the hotel patio and talked well into the night. I can't tell you how good that was for me! Sheena and I have shared many a patio or porch over the years, whether it was at her home near Toronto, on a cruise ship deck or my simple home in Florida ... they've all been treasured times. We've laughed, cried and shared our life stories, usually over a few glasses of wine. Thanks, Sheena! I love you and thank both you and Phil for making the pitstop to see Chipmunk and me.
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 . 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)