When I asked Papa Chip if he thought the window smashing happened while we were there, he said, "I'm pretty sure it didn't." Then he pointed to a Maine State Police business card laying on the seat of one of the vehicles. So, it was obvious that the police at least knew what had happened, but I still felt bad for the drivers who would return and find their vehicles had been broken into.
When we arrived at the trailhead, it was a beautiful sunny morning and Chipmunk pulled on her pack, grabbed her poled and hugged and kissed us good bye. We told her that we'd try to meet her at the summit the following day but that if we weren't there, proceed with the plan we had in place for her descent; that we'd meet her at the backup meet up spot. She nodded, paused for a quick pic and then proceeded on the road walk portion of the trail towards Abol bridge.
We are at a different phase in our lives and now, it's actually more fun to "just look" and brainstorm what we'd do to and with oddball vehicles. This day, we fantasized that we could turn this truck into a heavy duty uber industrial RV. It was a fun way to pass some time.
We also walked through the downtown area and stopped into one of the "hiker must do" spots: The AT Cafe. Soon after walking in, we noticed that some of the ceiling tiles had bright colored writing on them. It turned out to be the signatures of AT thru hikers. Very Cool. Then we checked out the menu and found the "Summit Sundae" with 14 scoops of ice cream! Whoa! Really ... I had to tell myself, WHOA! It sounded yummy but I had 2 good reasons not to order it: 1) I'm not an AT hiker who has summited and earned the right to eat it and 2) I have a weight loss/get healthier challenge ahead of me and I don't want to make it any harder by indulging in a Summit Sundae. Ahhhh, I still have a little willpower!
After leaving the AT Cafe, we received Chipmunk's "check in/ok message", letting us know that she'd arrived at her pre-summit camp spot safely. We filled the truck tank with diesel and made our way to the local kennel business. Baxter State Park does not allow dogs and the AT Guide recommended Connie M. in Millinocket. We had called her and arranged to drop off Chocolate Chip, her leash and food supply for one night. Connie told us to pick her back up before 9 pm the following day and said that "if anything went wrong", she'd keep Chocolate Chip until the following day. She charged a fairly reasonable fee of $25 and both Papa Chip and I thought that Chocolate Chip looked relaxed and happy to hang out with other four leggers.
We drove to Baxter State Park, checked in and took our camp spot in the shadow of Katahdin. We ate a simple dinner of bologna and cheese sandwiches before crawling into our bunk around 8PM. We knew we planned to get up at 5AM and get started up the opposite side of Katahdin in order to meet Chipmunk at the summit for some pics.
I'd like to say we drifted off to sleep easily, but we didn't. We both had a lot on our minds and we ended up reminiscing about so many things from not only Chipmunk's childhood, but also Editor's and Brother Chip's. We recalled how when we took Editor to Disney World when she was about 9 years old, she was obsessed with the giant turkey legs they sold at the food stands and cafes. When we went into Animal Kingdom, she saw a sign for turkey legs and ran up to the window to order one and a soda. Papa Chip stood behind her when she was handed the turkey leg and soda. She asked the attendant for a straw and was told that in the Animal Kingdom, they don't provide straws; that a misplaced straw could hurt one of the animals. Without missing a beat, she held up the turkey leg and said, "And you think this didn't hurt?" Papa Chip was still belly laughing when he returned with Editor, who was putting her own "hurting" on that turkey leg.
We also talked about how Brother Chip packed his own bag for a much talked about week long vacation in Smugglers Notch, Vermont. He was at least 12 years old and had been packing his own luggage for a few years by then. A day after we arrived, he turned to me and said, "Papa said we aren't going home for a whole week. I only packed for a weekend." I was shocked and said, "What's in the big bag?" He unzipped it and I found one change of clothes and a whole bunch of Dungeons and Dragons books ... his latest obsession. We ran out to the closest store and picked up a few more outfits to hold him over. Although he doesn't often admit it, it's one of the reasons he scored the family nickname, "Captain Oblivious." To his credit, at least he brought books! There are worse things a boy that age could be in to.
As we talked, I asked Papa Chip if he remembered how obsessed Chipmunk was to stand on top of things when she was little. He, too, remembered how she pulled herself up to stand by the time she was 9 or 10 months old but really wasn't interested in walking much. I worried, at first, but the pediatrician assured me it was fine and that she would walk in her own time. At Chipmunk's first birthday, she crawled to her presents, piled them up, climbed the pile and stood on top of them. She stood there for quite a while with a big smile on her face. She wasn't as interested in opening the presents as she was in climbing them and standing on top of them.
With that memory, I noted that maybe she'd been looking to climb mountains before she could even speak. Maybe everything she'd done to that point in life, was just preparation for climbing Mount Katahdin. Maybe, I was just feeling nostalgic. Nonetheless, remembering all those great times was sure a good way to end the night. I went to sleep, knowing I'd see her at the summit the next day and make a whole new memory for the family album I carry in my mind.
Little did I know, that I was wrong.
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)