Day 194 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 2083 Hiked yesterday: 0 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 101
First, to Editor, thank you for that wonderful comment. We love you and miss both you and Brother Chip so badly. It's not long now until we can all get together!
To our readers, you may know how very proud we are of not only Chipmunk but our two older children, Brother Chip and Editor. I have mentioned that we once had a business that collapsed about 6 years ago. Our business was being managed by my assistant of 10 years, in NJ, when it collapsed. We had moved to Hawaii because Editor was accepted to UH at 16 years old and we wanted to be close by her first year. So, our lives were turned upside down in most every way during Editor's first year of college, a time that was not easy for any of us. Amazingly, she stayed focused on her schooling not only that really rough first year but for the next 4 years, too. She sought every scholarship, grant and work opportunity she could and still managed to keep a 4.0 gpa almost throughout and graduated with a 3.9 (and some college loans, of course). She applied for and studied abroad in Mendoza, Argentina and also at Oxford, England. I tried my hardest not to let my business failure and financial turmoil trouble her but she often asked then and continues to ask now, if she can help. She is an amazing young woman who truly succeeded where many others would have given up. I remain in awe of her. Maybe some day you'll hear a little more about a family adventure with Editor, if we are so lucky as to convince her and hopefully Brother Chip, too, to take a little time away.
Second, to Spicy Jesus ... oops! sorry about that slip up; I promise I'll give warning if there's any more discussion of your least favorite topic.
Third, to Clay ... hmm, I'm not eager to climb a mountain just yet but I will be taking your wisdom and advice seriously when I am ready.
Fourth, to Teresa, Mary, Julie, Lesley, Doreen, Heather, Barbara, Kara, Tom, Jersey Girl and all the rest of our readers who have expressed their concerns and support of us ... TRULY, THANK YOU! Your words of support are helping us move onward.
And finally, to Larry P., I'm so glad you've joined us for our adventure! My father dealt with the same issue for many years so I can appreciate your situation. With that said, Larry, let's all hike on! We are almost in the double digits now!
I was sore but I think I got a little extra pep in my step upon hearing that. (Adrenaline ... amazing stuff!) Here's a little background on this amazing family (pictured to the left: "Houdini" (Amy, the mom), "LOL" (Katie, the 15 yro daughter), "High Five" (one of Amy's 7 yro twin sons) and "Tutu" (12 yro daughter, Virginia): Amy initially brought all 4 of her children (from home in Seattle, Washington) on an Appalachian Trail hike but one of her twin boys decided early on that it wasn't for him. Amy continued the hike with her other 3 children throughout the summer and into the fall. If you think it's amazing that a 15 year old "Chipmunk" did it, imagine guiding 3 children ages 7-15 through all that the trail has to give! They forded rivers, climbed rope bridges, slipped and slid over slippery rocks; THEY CLIMBED KATAHDIN!! It's no surprise that Amy's trail name is "Houdini"! Besides pulling off a feat that few parents would attempt, the family truly is PURE MAGIC!
I can hardly believe that they hiked within miles of us all those months, read Chipmunk's trail registry entries, etc. and that we all did not meet until Chipmunk passed them (going in opposite directions) on the trail as she entered the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine. In that brief 30 seconds, Houdini's 15 yro daughter, LOL and Chipmunk hugged, wishing they could spend more time together. (They are the only two 15 year old girls I know of on the Appalachian Trail this year.) When Amy and her kids came into the Lake Shore House in Monson that afternoon, where Papa Chip and I were watching Chipmunk's progress online, we became instant friends, too. LOL, High Five and Tutu joined us at our table while Amy started laundry and each family member took turns getting showers.
LOL had lots of questions about Chipmunk and as we talked, we learned that LOL and Chipmunk have an amazing number of things in common. Both LOOOOOOVE the band, One Direction. In fact, LOL took a life sized fold up cutout of her fave band member, Harry Styles, to the summit of Katahdin with her for her summit pic! Chipmunk and LOL also enjoy drawing fashions ... AND, their sketches look amazingly similar! They've read the same books, love Koalas ... AND, hope to some day assist at the same Koala Sanctuary in Australia. Papa Chip and I enjoyed spending time with them that afternoon and hoped that somehow we could all get back together again. We all exchanged emails, phone #s, Twitter handles, websites ... yatta, yatta, yatta ... AND TA-DA! We managed to make it to the same place on the same day, on the LAST day either of our families would be in the same trail town.
Within seconds of arriving, Chipmunk and LOL were chatting like they'd known each other forever. Chipmunk moved to LOL's table before her lunch came out and Tutu joined us at our table, where she and I shared fries. We all talked "trail" and adventure ... it was the absolute perfect way to spend the post summiting afternoon!
Alex, Amy, Papa Chip and I arrived at the same conclusion: these girls need to take an adventure together! Not surprisingly, both Chipmunk and LOL reached the same conclusion. They already had a few ideas brewing before the "Crowd Control" family told us that they'd need to leave. They had reservations to keep and a drive to get there so we all gave hugs, high fives, hand shakes and congrats on all that we've all done this past 6 months. Before they left, we learned that Amy's husband, Alex (family nicknamed "Sugar Daddy") had paid our lunch tab, too. We thanked him and told him what a joy it was to get to know his family. With that, they were gone and the AT Cafe seemed suddenly empty.
Once upstairs, Chipmunk looked at several items before deciding to spend a few of her Chipmunk Bucks. She found a pair of silver Bear earrings and fell in love with them. She has seen several bears on the Appalachian Trail and has developed a real liking for them. Of course, she still has a healthy respect for the fact that they are wild animals and should be viewed from a reasonable distance. We left the store and headed to the Chip Mobile. Although Millinocket is a great town, we had to get to Monson.
Meanwhile, Papa Chip and I gingerly hauled ourselves up onto the stools at the cafe tables. The place was busy with regulars and we ordered a couple beers, knowing that we'd be staying the night in the camper that we parked across the street. Chipmunk returned with a big box that had been mailed to her care of the Lake Shore House. It was from our friends at Darby Communications and their client, Vasque Footwear.
When they asked Chipmunk to be a Vasque Ambassador, Chipmunk was super excited and couldn't wait to start what she considers her first job. Chipmunk has spoken about the Vasque boots that she truly loves whenever possible and recently wore her Vasque t-shirt and hat for a few interviews. Recently, Vasque asked her if she'd like to try any of their other shoes and Chipmunk ordered a pair of "Rifts". They are a different style of trail shoe from her boots and she thought they'd look great as street shoes, too.
We thanked Rebekah for holding the mail drop for us, paid our bill and headed to the Chip Mobile for the night. It was only 7-ish but we all needed rest and Chipmunk planned to re-start her hike the next day. With about a hundred miles left, she's eager to finish her thru hike while the weather is still decent. In the morning, we'd drive to where she left off and let her resume it.
We climbed into our bunks and said, "I love you" and "good night" to one another before we turned out our overhead lights. Before I went to sleep, I asked Chipmunk if she was sore after climbing Katahdin. She said, "Oh, yeah. That was truly the toughest I've hiked so far on the AT." I know firsthand just how tough that hike was. I still can't believe that she gets up almost every day and goes back out there.
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)