Day 81 Appalachian Trail, VA Miles Hiked to Date: 790 Hiked yesterday: 11 Trail Miles Miles to Katahdin: 1394
Once the hikers were ready all ready to go, I noticed that Chipmunk had slumped down in the front seat of the truck. I told the hikers to go on ahead since they had a 21 mile hike day planned. I climbed into the truck and let Chipmunk rest her head on my lap. She still had her hoodie on and it was pulled way down over her eyes. After a while, I asked if she was feeling any better. She said that her headache was pretty bad and that light was bothering her eyes. I told her to rest with her eyes closed. She kept her head on my lap for about another hour and then she sat up. She rubbed her eyes and stretched and said she felt a little better. We both climbed out of the truck and I gave her an extra long hug. She did look better than she had earlier in the morning. She pulled her pack on and said she was ready to hike.
We walked to the trailhead together past a grandfather and grandson who were parked nearby, ready to go fishing.
The grandfather said, "Hi. Aren't you the young girl that was on the news?" Chipmunk nodded. The man turned to his grandson, who looked to be about 10, and said, "Look at that. That's the girl I told you about. She's hiking the whole Appalachian Trail. You're going to do that one day, too." The grandson asked, "aren't you scared?" and Chipmunk replied, "Sometimes." They sat in their truck and watched us as we said good bye. I stood at the trailhead until I could see her no longer and then turned to walk back to the truck. As I passed their truck, the grandfather said, "You must be so proud." I nodded and said, "I am. I really am."
I drove back into town and stopped at the laundromat. I pulled my laundry bag in and loaded up 2 washers. Once they were going, I went back into the camper and boiled water for doing dishes (the camper doesn't have a hot water heater). I finished the dishes and switched the laundry to the dryers and then returned to the camper to put clean sheets on my bunk and sweep the floor. Chocolate Chip watched my movements around the camper with a completely bored look on her face ... until I refreshed her bowl of water and added more dog food. Once my domestic chores were done, I headed to the local library and posted the blog.
Before heading up to the evening meet up spot, I stopped by the shelter to see if "Canada" was ready to go. He had asked me the day before if he could hitch a ride to the trailhead later in the day since he had some online business to do at the library which didn't open until 10 am. I picked him up and was glad to see "Chukkles" had made it into town. She was drying her tent, sleeping bag and gear on picnic tables outside the local grocery. It looked like a yard sale. We waved to one another and I headed up the mountain. I dropped Canada on the way and I was glad to see that he knew some of the hikers who'd just come into the trailhead ... instant hiking partners for the day.
I drove onto our meet up spot and realized that I had a little mechanical issue. My turn signals (on the dashboard) were not flashing; they were just a solid light. Because I've owned a few clunkers in my time, I figured this was a low level issue, at least in terms of repair. I drove on to the meet up spot and when I pulled in, I saw quite a few hikers I knew, including Cinderella. When I told her about the issue, she stood in front of and behind the truck, looking at the blinkers and tail lights as I flipped the indicator. We both thought it probably wasn't a fuse since the lights still worked but I crawled into the floor area under the steering wheel and pulled the fuse box down any way. Cinderella pulled the fuses and confirmed they were all intact. She showed me the "flasher" fuses which were silver round fuses, not like the "Buss" fuses I knew. She said that's probably what needed to be replaced. I thanked her and gave her a hug before she headed off to hike.
While I waited for Chipmunk to come into the trailhead, I made up more toilet paper bags for her and put all of our clean clothes away. She arrived earlier than I figured and I heard her call down the mountain, "Mom, I'm here." Chocolate Chip and I hopped out of the camper and waited for her to cross the road and join us. We made a taco dinner and chatted about her day's hike. She said it turned out to be an O.K. day; that she took a few pictures for me. Unfortunately, we had no signal or wifi so she wasn't able to transfer them to me right away. She got rained on a bit but nothing as heavy as the last few days' showers. We turned in for bed by 9 PM and again I was awake until well after midnight while she and Chocolate Chip snuggled up and snoozed on her bunk. I read with my headlamp and looked ahead in the A.T. Guide.
I put in the GPS coordinates for an auto parts store in the town closest to our meet up spot and pointed the truck down the mountain. The morning fog was so dense that I could only see about 15 yards in front of me. I kept it in low gear until I was about a mile outside of town and the fog lifted. I pulled into the Advance Auto Parts store and texted Papa Chip. We haven't been able to talk or text for at least 4 days and I wanted to give him a "heads up" about the truck issues before I changed anything out. He agreed with Cinderella's assessment so I pulled the bad parts, took them into Advance Auto Parts and bought a couple 12 volt flashers.
I drove into town, found the cafe that messaged me earlier and stopped in for a cup of coffee. The owner, a former thru hiker, was out on a shuttle run so I helped myself to coffee and posted the morning blog on their free wifi.
If you enjoy reading the story of Chipmunk's hike, 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 and Papa Chip and I tweet (@ridethenation) 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. If you’d like to send some “Trail Magic” to Chipmunk, click on the “Donate” button at the upper right of today’s blog post.
Thanks again for all your support,
Mama Chip, Papa Chip, Chipmunk and her dog, Chocolate Chip
(Tammy, Jay, Neva and Coco)