Day 111 Appalachian Trail, Pennsylvania Miles Hiked to Date: 1140 Hiked yesterday: 17 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1043
We left by 7 AM and I drove them the short distance back to the road crossing where they left off in the rain the day before. They both consulted the AT Guide sheets and I suggested that I meet them midday at a location that said it had parking. They agreed. I hugged and kissed Chipmunk good bye and watched them walk together to the muddy trail that led to the foot bridge over Route 11.
I drove away back to the Dunkin Donuts where there was free Wifi and good coffee. I posted the blog, checked my accounts and then headed for the trailhead meet up point earlier than usual. Whenever Chipmunk hikes with another hiker, her typical 1.5 miles per hour usually goes up. With Talker, she averages 3 mph! And she says the time goes by quickly while they discuss everything from politics to womens' issues. Interesting.
She asked if there was any place with air conditioning nearby since it was 94 degrees and humid. I searched and found an ice cream shop about 5 minutes away and drove them both there. First, I ran in and got a vanilla soft serve for Chocolate Chip and then they ordered their ice cream. They stayed inside in the a/c and ate the yummy coldness while Chocolate Chip and I hung out in a shady spot in the truck. Chocolate Chip LOVES vanilla frozen custard. After that, I picked up another bag of ice for the cooler before driving them back to the trailhead.
They decided to hike the remaining miles into Duncannon and Talker suggested that we meet up at the Doyle, a hiker hotel in town. He had gone into Duncannon for a "hiker feed" event and gave me the low down on the town. I thanked him and kissed Chipmunk good bye before they headed back into the high grass to hike towards Duncannon.
After making some phone calls, returning text messages and emails, I headed towards Duncannon. Luckily, Evil Vengeful Rosie did not put me on Millers Gap Road again which had a long section that was unmaintained gravel with ruts ... UGH! I enjoyed some nice paved roads and a ride along the Susquehana River. I arrived and only waited a short time before Aunt Carol arrived and brought the equivalent of "hiker Christmas" with her!
I came out to find 5 or 6 twelve packs of soda, including Mountain Dew, Coke, Root Beer, 7-up and of course, Dr. Pepper. There were bags full of goodies, too! There were tomatoes ... REAL JERSEY 'MATERS!! ... blueberries, Tastykake Butterscotch Crimpets & Chocolate Cupcakes!! OH MY! She also brought treats for Chocolate Chip: chewie hoof life cow toes! Chocolate Chip loves those. I had parked along the road in front of the Doyle and I loaded all the goodies into the truck camper. In all the excitement, I forgot to take a pic! Trust me; it was mounds of yummy trail magic! Oh yeah, and she brought Febreze! The camper needs a good Febrezing!
They arrived around 5:30 pm and were covered in sweat and a light layer of dirt. Chipmunk settled onto the step next to Aunt Carol, who appeared to lean back away from her. Was this Aunt Carol's first encounter with hiker "stink"? Trust me, there's no deodorant that can work all day to keep the hikers smelling good!
While everyone talked about how tall Talker is next to Chipmunk, I pulled a chair out and told Chipmunk to stand on it; then I asked Talker to stand next to her. Look how pleased Chipmunk was to be taller than her hiking buddy! Shortly after this picture, Talker decided to hike yet another 5 miles and end his day at the next shelter north on the trail. We all said good bye to him and wished him a good evening hike.
Carol stayed and talked for a while longer but then headed out around dusk since she had a pretty long drive home. Dee hung around a while longer and then she, too, left. I enjoyed seeing them both and was sad to see the evening come to an end. Chipmunk and I gathered our things and headed to the truck camper.
In all the excitement, I hadn't squared away our camping spot for the evening. I called the only local campground and there was no answer. I decided to opt for my "fail safe" option, a local church parking lot. I pulled up a list of churches on Evil Vengeful Rosie the GPS and one just kind of caught my attention: Duncannon Church of God. Even though I was raised in a Methodist Church (by a Southern Baptist Mom and a Presbyterian/Lutheran Dad), I decided to head there.
I pulled into the parking lot of the church, which was in a beautiful residential neighborhood. It was quiet and a bit dark so I couldn't discern which house was likely the cottage. Since it was 9:30 at night, I didn't want to knock on a door unless I was sure. Chipmunk was exhausted and prepared for bed while I walked Chocolate Chip.
Soon, a gentleman and a young girl walked out of the nearby house and approached me. He introduced himself as Pastor Robinson and I explained our situation. He was very accommodating and asked if we needed anything; said we could go in the church if the pending storm got bad. I assured him that all we needed was a parking spot.
He asked where we were from and I told him, "originally New Jersey." He asked where in NJ and I said South Jersey. He asked which town and I realized he must be familiar with South Jersey. Instead of saying "midway between Philadelphia and Atlantic City" (my standard answer), I said, "Vineland". He said, "Really?", I'm from Millville ... our towns were high school football rivals! I laughed and said, "where in Millville?" and he said, "Actually, I'm from Laurel Lake." I couldn't believe it. Until I was 5 years old, my family lived in Laurel Lake, too!
We talked about who we knew from Laurel Lake, the old "Plumer's General Store", Buckshutem Road, Silverton Yachts and all kinds of stuff. It was simply amazing to me that of all the churches in the town where I could have chosen to stay, I chose one where the pastor was from my old hometown ... a tiny little community just outside Millville, NJ. In short, I felt safe and at home very quickly. He gave me his card and I gave him mine. I thanked him for his kindness and told him that I'd be leaving early morning. He said I was welcome to come back for their morning service and I told him I'd consider it. We bid each other good night and I climbed into the camper for a good night's sleep.
Thanks, Pastor Robinson and Duncannon Church of God for helping us out in a pinch. And remember, Vineland Rules!! (Just kidding; it's obvious that neither Vineland nor Millville was so spectacular that either of us are still there.) I fell asleep remembering that the Millville Thunderbolts beat us badly at football back in high school, after some Vineland High School students "pre-burned" their Thanksgiving bonfire for them. I chuckled and fell asleep. Who'd have thought?
Thanks again to Aunt Carol, Dee, Talker and Pastor Robinson for giving Chipmunk and me such special treatment!
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)