Day 106 Appalachian Trail, Pennsylvania Miles Hiked to Date: 1060 Hiked yesterday: 16 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1108
First, thanks to Alicia M. and Kara H. for your generous donations and your words of support. Kara ... I hope to some day walk the road you described in your message and I will re-read that message when I need to get back on track.
Second, thanks to Jen A.W., Brittney and Drake for braving the heat and meeting up with me on one of the more hectic days. My apologies that there wasn't more time to hang out together. Also, Chipmunk, Uke and I thank you for dinner out. We all hope you had fun and enjoyed your look into the typical (or more accurately, atypical) hikers' day.
Third, Thanks to Jason of PA State Parks, who comped Chipmunk's and my camping along with a few other hikers on our site. We all got a good night's rest and really appreciate it. Thanks also to Anna and her crew at Ironmasters Mansion Hostel (more about that in a future blog).
After a quick breakfast, I drove her to the trailhead, hugged and kissed her good bye, confirmed our meet up spots, and then she disappeared into the woods.
With the truck taken care of, I returned to the laundromat and finished our laundry. Although I wash Chipmunk's hiking clothes with a good detergent and in hot water, the "hiker smell" lingers lightly in them. Other hikers have said that they just can't get their hiking clothes clean any more; many have tossed out the old and bought new because of it. I may have to do the same at some point.
I drove him there (only about 8 minutes away), he got the box and I returned him and Chipmunk to the park. He worked on removing the straps from his pack and I gave him a knife and some scissors to help. Chipmunk decided she'd hike on and told Uke she'd see him further down the trail. She left and I waited while Uke pulled off the old straps, offering to mail them back to the manufacturer (as he was required) in one of the padded flat rate ($5.60) envelopes I had on board. He packed it up, gave me the money for postage and thanked me a bunch.
As he finished, a few hikers we knew arrived. I welcomed Joe Cool, B Man and Snacks with cold sodas and we all talked about where they planned on ending their hiking day. Everyone agreed that they were shooting for the state park about 10 miles from there because it had a swimming pool and campground. B Man pointed out that he and Joe Cool have PA state drivers licenses, which qualifies them for a discount. We all exchanged phone numbers and I agreed to call ahead and see how many hikers/tents we could put on a campsite with the plan to split the cost. We agreed to meet up at the road crossing just before the park, where Chipmunk and I had agreed to for her late day meet up point.
I drove towards that meet up point, parked the truck in the shade and called the park. I found out that the pool closes at 7 PM daily (WHY???? That seems pretty early to me, considering it's still light out til 9 PM in the summer ... you know the time when people most want to swim in a pool .. UGH!). I texted Uke, Chipmunk and Joe Cool an update so that they could all pick up the pace if they wanted to cool down in the pool before camping.
Once there packs were loaded into the camper, we drove the short distance to the campground. We went into the office to reserve a camp spot and they told me I had to drive the mile and a half to the "pet friendly" campground, pick a spot and then come back and pay. It was almost 6 pm so Joe Cool gave me her Pennsylvania ID (for the discount) and I drove the gang to the pool and dropped them off. Then I drove up to the campground and found a site that had a good amount of room for extra tents. I drove back to the office, reserved the spot and paid about $25 for it. I checked the time and since it was only 6:25, I figured I'd still get a cool dip in the pool, too.
I drove to the pool area and ran into Tune along the way. We chatted briefly and I learned he had hiked into the park around 2:30 and had enjoyed some pool time and a shower but decided to hike further and camp in the woods. I wished him well and headed towards the pool entry. As I entered, there was a sign that said the pool closed at 6:45 pm. WHAT??? UGH! I rushed in and got in the water, all the while looking for Chipmunk. She called to me from the middle of the pool and I walked out in the cool clear water to meet her. Uke and a few other hikers I hadn't met before were there. We asked if they had a place to camp for the night and since they didn't, we suggested they join us and split the cost.
When they announced the pool was closing, we wandered over to the snack bar where Uke bought Chipmunk and me some ice cream. Thanks, Uke! We saw Snacks (the hiker, not the edibles) and invited him to camp with us, too. We walked together to the parking lot and after I covered Chipmunk bunk in the waterproof sleeping bag, they all piled in for the ride to the campground site.
Once everyone was out of the truck and had started setting up camp, talk of a "trip into town" began. Uke told all the hikers to give me $5 each for the campsite, exceeding the amount I paid. He said the extra was for fuel, etc. I know the hikers don't get a lot of creature comforts AND I needed more ice for the cooler, so I drove Uke and Joe Cool into town. We picked up some yummies, some vices and headed back. When we arrived, Chipmunk was lying on the picnic table reading her book, a few hikers were building a fire, a few were cooking their dinners. I parked, plugged in our electric line and started cooking one of Chipmunk's favorite dinners, Mac n Cheese. While I cooked, different hikers arrived at my back door with yummy little gifts! I was being spoiled by them and it felt very much like we were one big family.
After dinner, Chipmunk and I settled into the camper and enjoyed a DVD with the fan cooling us as we lounged. The hikers talked and laughed around the campfire late into the night but it didn't interrupt Chipmunk's or my sleep. In fact, I wouldn't have known that except I awoke during a nightmare and hollered out loud. They called out to me from the campfire and were concerned; as soon as I realized it was a nightmare, I apologized for startling them. They apologized thinking they woke me. I assured them they hadn't and went back to sleep to the quiet whir of the fan.
I guess Chipmunk's 16 mile hike wore her out. She didn't hear my nightmare nor the conversation between the hikers and me afterwards. Even Chocolate Chip was tired; although she woke up, she quickly settled back into her cool spot in front of the bunk window.
Thanks again for all your support,
Mama Chip, Papa Chip, Chipmunk and her dog, Chocolate Chip
(Tammy, Jay, Neva and Coco)