Day 84 Appalachian Trail, VA Miles Hiked to Date: 826, Hiked yesterday: 9 Trail Miles, 1.1 non-trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1357
Brother Bear loaded the packs and himself into the camper and Six rode in the cab with Chocolate Chip and me to Waynesboro. While Brother Bear was in the back, he sorted through the box his mom sent which was full of new snacks and goodies. When I pulled into the parking area at the Waynesboro trailhead, Brother Bear gave me a box of snacks from his pack that he no longer wanted, saying he was tired of the same old snacks. I added some items left from prior hikers and officially turned the box into the official Chip Mobile “hiker box”, a box of “freebies”, like the ones often found at outfitters in Appalachian Trail towns. I’m sure their fellow hikers that are coming up behind them on the trail will appreciate it. They both chipped in money for the extra fuel to yellow blaze them ahead to Waynesboro; I hugged them both, wished them well and headed into town to post my blog.
I stopped at the local McDonald’s, grabbed an Iced Tea and a table with an outlet for my usual routine. A man at a neighboring table admired my Camelback pack and asked where I got it. I told him I had lucked out and got it on clearance at a Cabela’s store last year. I bought it as our family was getting ready to hike in the Shenandoah National Park for a vacation. It seems so long ago but it was only 8 months ago that we hiked in the rain to Big Meadows Lodge in Shenandoah National Park during Papa Chip’s one-week vacation from his job in Clearwater. I thought the whole experience was o.k., but a bit miserable with the rain. Chipmunk, however, loved it! She immediately went online and researched the Appalachian Trail while we dried out and warmed up with hot chocolate. After some time, she declared, “I want to hike the whole thing.” We explained that we only had a week and that we didn’t think it was feasible to hike the whole 100+ miles in Shenandoah. She then explained to us that the Appalachian Trail actually runs from Georgia to Maine, thinking her dad and I knew nothing about it. (Ironically, the kid is now beating us to something that’s been on our bucket list for years.) Within the next few weeks, she’ll soon hike the same part of the trail that first ignited her desire to start this quest.
As I blogged, the fellow at the neighboring table and I chatted, and I soon revealed that my daughter was hiking the trail after he told me he had thru hiked it. He is a former Marine and his trail name was “Trail Rat”. He was fascinated with Chipmunk’s quest and asked lots of questions. He listened and said that he thought she was doing fine; that she seemed to be handling everything the trail was handing her in the right way. It’s always comforting to hear a former thru hiker say things like that. They’ve been there and truly know the struggles the hikers face each day.
I finished my online work and headed towards the meet up spot. When Evil Vengeful Rosie tried to put me onto a dirt road that had a steeper than usual entrance, I pulled my Blue Ridge Parkway map and decided to re-route and take what looked to be a better paved road. It took me a little farther south but I thought it was worth it rather than risk getting stuck on a mountain or sliding off the side of one. The alternate road I decided to use was indeed paved but unfortunately was very twisted and had little or no shoulder. I didn’t let the truck get above 30 mph and it was a bit scary when I had to share the narrow roadway with an oncoming vehicle.
She told me how the 3000 + mile descent from “The Priest”, an iconic mountaintop, to the trailhead was rough, especially in the day’s heat. (Luckily, the descent took longer than anticipated and allowed me the extra time I needed to drive the crazy winding road.)
When we got into Lexington, she spotted a pizzeria and said, “Can we eat there? Do I have any Chipmunk bucks left?” I told her that I was “pizza’d out”; but that if they served anything else, we could eat there. To my surprise, they had quite a menu for a strip mall pizzeria. Chipmunk opted for baked ziti and I had a gyros. After dinner, Chipmunk asked to look in the stores while I walked Chocolate Chip. Chocolate Chip stood still and watched her as she walked into the stores and then looked at me as if to say, “Why aren’t we going?” Chocolate Chip took care of her outdoor business and then stood staring at the door where she last saw her mom. She jumped in the air when she saw Chipmunk returning. I do believe that Chocolate Chip misses her mom a lot when she’s out hiking.
It was only 8 in the evening when Chipmunk declared she was tired. I drove the truck to our camp spot for the evening and parked it in a shady place. We climbed into the back, locked the door and cranked open the windows. It was muggy and warm for a while until the sun set and the cool evening air wafted through. By 9 pm, Chipmunk and Chocolate Chip were snoozing on her bunk and I was feeling pretty sleepy, too. I must have dozed off soon after but I was rudely awakened around 3 AM with a bout of Vertigo. Ugh! I’ve had this before and I know that like my mom, I have some inner ear issues that cause it and some balance issues.
Unfortunately, a good bout of Vertigo usually leads to a few uncomfortable rounds of vomiting until I can get in check. Since Chipmunk was asleep, I tried keeping my head in perfect alignment with my spine, which usually stops the spinning. That worked great until I dozed off and my head fell to the side and set off a new round of spinning. Around 5:30 AM, I decided to give up on staying in bed and made the choice to try to sit up and re-align my head and spine again. The mere act of bringing my legs around and easing myself out of the bunk brought on a nasty round of Vertigo and luckily I found a bowl in time. Once I was upright for a while, the Vertigo ceased. It typically only affects me when I'm lying down.
FYI, there is a relatively quick fix for Vertigo that an old friend (Bob Tedesco, former Manager of the National Bicycle League) shared with me. Papa Chip and I watched the “head aligning/body turning” technique on a youtube.com video years ago and have used it successfully since rather than pharmaceuticals, which have side effects. Maybe, Chipmunk will be able to help me with this in Papa Chip’s absence once we get to the hotel where we are meeting our Canadian friends for the night.
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 right (not 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 . 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)