Day 201 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 2142 Hiked yesterday: 10 Trail Miles, 3.8 off trail miles, Miles left to hike: 42
First, from now until the end of Chipmunk's hike, she asked me to post this link to her Hike For Mental Health Fundraising page: https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/hike/campaign.jsp?campaign=13&team=145&fundraiser=1052&
She asked me to tell our readers that she (and we) have enjoyed having all of you along for this adventure. Please consider donating to HFMH if you've enjoyed being a part of her hike. She said, "It would be the best trail magic!"
Second, thanks to Phillip R. (which I believe is also Mari?) for the generous donation. You know that's going towards a dress!! LOL.
Third, thank you to Darlene F., Clayton C., JR S., and the anonymous friends who have all contributed to Chipmunk's fundraising for Hike for Mental Health! Thanks for joining Chipmunk in supporting this charity who utilizes 100% of its donations:
- Eighty percent to scientific research to prevent, cure, or treat mental illness
- Twenty percent to preserve wilderness trails
Fifth, to Tom K., thanks for being my online eyes throughout the hike day and reporting in her "status". My apologies for any worrying.
Sixth, Welcome to Bridget W. of Maine, who just found our hike adventure ... Enjoy! And to our other readers who have expressed that they are going to miss the hike updates once Chipmunk completes her hike ... so are we. However, we do plan to blog highlights of Chipmunk's return to normal life after almost 7 months of trail life. Following the hike's end, we'll head South and visit family in NJ, hopefully visit Chipmunk's friend, Ganina, near Pittsburgh, PA, then celebrate our friend, Eleni's first CD Release in Northern VA. We may even stop at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry to file the official paperwork for Chipmunk's 2000 miler certificate and badge. Along the way, we hope to see a few special friends and then arrive back in Florida in time for Chipmunk to rehearse and give her TEDx speech in Tampa on November 16th. (And yes, I will be giving more details about my upcoming "healthy weight loss adventure" soon, too.)
Before long, the chirping bird chorus on my phone alerted me that it was 5:30 AM. I slid down from my bunk and felt with my toes until I found my slip on shoes. I dressed and then started heating water for coffee. I felt around in my clothing cabinet and found my wool sweater which I was happy to pull on over my head. Mornings are getting colder; I'm always happier when the sun warms me up.
When Chipmunk's "goat"meal and Papa Chip's coffee were ready, I woke them. I reminded them that there was a 3.8 mile road walk back to the trail. I asked Chipmunk if she wanted one of us to walk with her and before she could reply, Papa Chip said, "I figured I was walking with her." Chipmunk said, "You don't have to, but if you're going to come, you can carry my pack for me until we get to the trail." Then she laughed and Papa Chip said, "I'll carry it to the trail if you want me to." Chipmunk said, "Really? Okay!"
Papa Chip walked Chocolate Chip while Chipmunk dressed and I pulled her day's snacks. I passed the bag with her sandwich and snacks out the door to Papa Chip. It was dark out as he pulled the trash from her backpack's side pockets and then stuffed snacks into her pack's zippered side pouches. Little did he know that he accidentally pulled an important item from her pack in the process. It landed on the passenger side floorboard and I wouldn't discover it until it was too late.
Papa Chip returned by mid-morning and we both climbed into the cab and drove towards town. We came into a small town and stumbled upon the small local library. What luck! It was open, meaning we could post the hike update without lingering over coffee long beyond the average diner.
I grabbed the laptop bag and we both headed into the small one room building. We said hello to the librarian and asked if we could plug in and go on wifi. She said that was fine and showed us to antique wooden chairs near an outlet. I started up the laptop while Papa Chip attempted to get both of our phones connected to wifi.
It became obvious that something wasn't quite right when not even one of our devices would get online. We consulted with the librarian who said she really wasn't sure how the wifi worked and recommended we visit a cafe just down the way, saying, "That's where I send everyone who can't get on the wifi here. " Hmm.
So we packed up our stuff and drove to the cafe. We got a couple of coffees and Papa Chip ordered a breakfast sandwich. The coffee was good, the sandwich was okay and the bill was about three times what we'd pay at McDonald's. Mind you, I prefer to patronize locally owned businesses, it's just not always feasible on our current budget. Nonetheless, it was the only game in town, so there was no point in debating it.
I pulled up the usual pages online: Chipmunk's SPOT page, my email account, the hike website, etc. I noticed that there was only one SPOT Tracking message from the very start of the day. I didn't panic because, depending on cloud cover, sometimes there are fewer updates. I did try to send a text message to Chipmunk, reminding her to check and change the batteries, if needed. Of course, my phone displayed that the message would be sent out the next time I had service.
I busied myself with blog posting and when my online work was done, I checked the SPOT Tracking page again ... still no updates. Hmm. We packed up the laptop and headed out the door. We drove to the local gas station and got diesel fuel. I took the opportunity to clean up some of Chipmunk's pack trash from the passenger side floor and was surprised when I found a Ziploc baggie with 6 triple A batteries in it.
When Papa Chip got back in the truck after fueling, I asked him if he removed any dead batteries from Chipmunk's pack. He said that there weren't any. I showed him the bag of batteries and he asked where it came from. I told him it was from the floorboard and he looked concerned and said, "It must have fallen out while I was packing her snacks this morning." Crap! By then, I suspected that her SPOT batteries had died and now I was pretty sure she didn't have replacement ones on her.
I sent another text message asking her to check if she had batteries; that if she didn't, to please text updates with her location and the time. Again, my phone displayed that the message would be sent when I had reception. Ugh! (*waves fist at AT&T*)
We took another look at the Maine Atlas and Gazeteer and then drove off in the direction of the meetup spot. We found the road easily enough and not surprisingly it was a rocky dirt road.
We hiked until my right knee became rather sore and then I told Papa Chip that I was returning to the truck. After checking the AT Guide, Papa Chip saw that Chipmunk would have a river crossing only a tenth of a mile from her finish spot for the day. He said he was going to go check it out and maybe even video tape her river crossing.
I returned to the truck, took Chocolate Chip for a walk and then decided to walk back down to the trailhead, slowly. Before I got there, Papa Chip and Chipmunk were walking along the road. I felt my neck and shoulders relax. Here's the video footage he took of her river crossing:
(Isn't it ironic that we just figured out how to add video to the website now that there are so few days remaining?)
When we arrived at the truck camper, Chipmunk explained that she got a bit delayed hiking because she ran into some very cool women hiking. She stopped when she heard voices in the woods and some ladies wearing mustaches and feathers arrived at her rock and told her they were hiking New England's Four Thousand foot high mountains. They chatted for a short time before one of them realized that she was the 15 year old girl she'd heard about in the news.
They took a few pics with her and then offered her some of their stash of "Emergency Chocolate" ... Chipmunk LOVES Chocolate! In return, she gave them her Rice Krispies treat. She said they were a fun bunch and she wished they were all hiking the same direction. They wished one another well and headed in opposite directions after spending some time exchanging trail stories.
She changed out the batteries, sent an "OK" message and we confirmed that it was functioning again. I then added the replacement batteries back into her pack so they'd be "good to go" for the next hiking day.
It started to rain and we all decided to get into the camper and relax together. It wasn't quite dark, yet, so we read books until the sun set. We turned on the overhead light and we all ate an easy dinner of leftovers. Before long, we said "I love you" and "good night" to one another. Before going to sleep, we chatted about the number of hike days left, the weather the next day, etc. Then, I rolled on my side, put my arm over Papa Chip's arm which was draped around my waist and let myself drift off to sleep.
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)