Day 121 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1272 Hiked yesterday: 16 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 912
First, thank you to Tom Kennedy and Leo Walker of www.hikeformentalhealth.org for arranging a great opportunity for Chipmunk to talk about something she and a lot of the hikers deal with on and off the trail: Depression. I'm sure you've read about the number of hikers who get the "Virginia Blues" here on this blog. Chipmunk wanted to bring to light the number of teenagers who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses in their day to day life but feel unable to seek help because of the stigma society has not yet torn down. There will be more about this in an upcoming blog.
Second, to Papa Chip, GO TO THE DR.! After a busy day, I crawled into my bunk last night and discovered that Papa Chip had been bitten by a spider and his arm swelled substantially and was red and feverish. Unfortunately, he didn't have cell service when I did so I left messages encouraging him to get help for it. Ironically, Papa Chip tried to rescue a cat that was stuck under a low porch a few years back; he was bitten and later found out that the cat died. So, now he thinks that when creatures bite him, THEY ought to go to the Dr. ... MEN!
Third, to Christine, thanks for your words of support. Yes, we are impressed by home schooled children, as well. In our family, we have one son who went completely to public school, community college and then graduated from a university and is now an awesome teacher. We have one daughter who went to public school until she was about 13, then home schooled herself and was accepted to the University of Hawaii at age 16 and graduated about a year ago and currently edits a womens magazine. And, we have Chipmunk who went to Kindergarten at a Public school, home schooled 1st-3rd, a Charter School for Arts and Sciences for 4th (while we lived in Hawaii) and then Home schooled since then. All 3 of them are bright, love reading and have distinctly different personalities. I hope we have instilled a love of learning in all of them and I realize daily that I learn so much more from my children than I ever thought I would.
And last but not least, Thanks to Doreen and Penny ... I love you guys! Your "to the point" messages on facebook always make me smile!
Soon, Chipmunk, Joe Cool and Gilgamesh arrived and they settled in for a cold drink as they pulled snacks from their packs. I pulled Chipmunk aside and whispered a question in her ear and she nodded and replied, "Yeah, absolutely". I went to the back of the truck cab, where we had Chipmunk's practice guitar stored and pulled it out. I offered it to Titus, who smiled and said, "Really?" I nodded and he pulled the guitar out of its case and tuned it. Soon, he was playing some classic good songs and the hikers were singing along. His rendition of "Jolene" practically brought me to tears. You should check him out at www.bryantitus.com ... have a listen.
Chipmunk was enjoying her hiking day and I really enjoyed being a part of an impromptu roadside concert. FYI, Joe Cool (to the right of Chipmunk in this pic) also has an amazing voice! There is so much raw talent out there. Chipmunk also sings and writes songs but she has yet to open up and perform any of them for the other hikers; she just likes singing them to herself as she hikes.
Chipmunk and her fellow hikers packed up and headed onward. I went into the town ahead while they were on the trail and scoped out camping, cheap meals, etc. and who'd have thought I'd find them in the same place. There was a blurb in the A.T. Guide about a local tavern that offered FREE camping for the hikers so I called to see if it would be ok for me to pull the Chip Mobile into there. The lady I spoke to was very kind and said, "Sure. Also, we have $1.49 Tacos tonight." Cool! I wrote the info down on a piece of card stock I had and took it with me to the trailhead. I posted it so that all the hikers coming in would know and then I waited for Chipmunk.
She arrived about the time I figured with Half Life, who planned to hike on. She told him she'd see him later on the trail and we got into the truck and headed to town. I made us chicken Caesar Salads for dinner and then we found a good parking spot beneath the trees. Although the $1.49 tacos were tempting, I wasn't sure what the tavern's policy on under age guests was; plus I knew that Chipmunk was looking forward to a quiet evening with me. She read and journaled and fell asleep by 9pm. I, too, fell asleep quickly but awoke around midnight when I heard some noise. I peered out my bunk window and saw that a few late night hikers arrived and were setting up camp. Again, I felt safer, knowing they were nearby.
Since I was awake, I checked the weather forecast and saw that rain was coming ... all day rain. Although I'm not fond of rainy hiking days for a few reasons: the path is slippery, road crossings are more dangerous and I also end up with a pile of wet clothes at the end of the day, meaning a trip to the laundromat is inevitable.
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)