Day 54, Elk Gardens, VA Miles Hiked To Date: 490.6 Hiked Yesterday: 9 Miles to Katahdin: 1693.6
Yesterday morning, Chipmunk and I drove back to the bridge where I picked her up the day before and she went out to resume her hike. It was raining steadily and she didn't really look like she wanted to go, but she did any way. She started her day with a steep climb up a muddy hill. Her new Leki poles, which have titanium tips, helped her keep her grip in the muddy mess. I watched until I could see her no more, then headed into town and posted the blog update. With that done, I set both my phone GPS and Vengeful Evil Rosie, the truck's GPS, with the coordinates to meet her at Elk Gardens.
Soon after that, Chipmunk arrived, calling Chocolate Chip to come up the trail. She darted every which way before finally finding her mom. She jumped and jumped up her mom's leg as her mom asked if she'd been a good girl. Chipmunk said hi to the hikers, dropped her pack in the camper and started telling me about her hiking day. Although it started out cold and rainy, after about 2 hours the sun came out and that made her feel good. Right from the start of her hike, she had to ascend from 2774 ft. to 5190 ft. up. She was grateful she had chosen to take the shorter 9 mile hike day rather than the 24 mile hike.
She climbed into the truck, asking if we could please go into town. She wanted to buy a "curling wand" so she could do a fellow hiker's hair who just told us she was getting "trail married". (The trail is an interesting community that has norms similar to real society but with a more open minded approach. Men and women meet on the trail and team up for hiking. They cook together, pitch camp together, struggle through the same challenges, etc. Soon, they become like a married couple and so some choose to have a non legal binding ceremony that celebrates their union.) So, I obliged Chipmunk because I, too, wanted to look for a few things in town ... like a new GPS for the truck. (Before you send comments regarding updating the maps, we've already done that. My GPS is truly possessed.)
After dinner, Chipmunk and I went to Walmart and she found her curling wand. I looked at GPS devices and realized I have absolutely no point of reference for evaluating a technology purchase. I decided that I'd manage another few days until hopefully, I meet up with Papa Chip. YES! Papa Chip's cycling tour is coming through Damascus, VA next week and even though Chipmunk will be about 30-40 miles North, we've decided to come back and connect with him. PLUS, I'll get to see Mayor and some other townsfolk that I've grown attached to. Don't worry, I don't plan to impose on Mayor ... especially since she has invited ALL 16 of the cyclists to camp in her yard while they are in town the two nights. I kid you not ... SHE IS AMAZING and so very helpful and supportive to all of us who are away from home. I said this before about Queen Diva of the hiker ministries in Hot Springs, NC and it holds true in the case of Mayor and Spicy Jesus: the words to the song, "and they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love" plays in my head when I think about all of them. They are warm and generous, without expectation or judgement.
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 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 and she
can receive personal messages directly to her email: email@example.com. She or we (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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)