Second, I apologize for the incomplete blog yesterday. I’ve been having a few problems with the blog site I use. I updated yesterday’s blog and the full story should now be there. Thanks to “Slacker” for letting me know.
Third, thank you to the “editor” for a website link to a petition to “Protect Appalachia from Destructive Mountaintop
Removal”. Please check out this link: http://action.biologicaldiversity.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13374.
was on the trail, we made our way into town and took care of the blog posting (flawed as it was!) and then headed to Sams Gap. We got word from our friend, Whisper, who recently left the trail due to 2 injuries, that she was doing Trail Magic at Sams Gap that day. When we arrived, we saw the back of her yellow VW Beetle open and lots of treats for the AT hikers.
dogs, passed out Gatorades, chips and all kinds of treats.
Every hiker that arrived was thrilled! Truly, Trail Magic is what makes the difference in these hikers’ lives. Most of them eat packaged snacks during the day and Ramen Noodles at
night. A hot meal, especially with meat and fresh bread, is heaven to them.
dogs rested. We listened to V-Chip explain “relationships” and why he still dated a girl, even after he concluded she was psychotic and she had thrown his laptop down the stairs. We listened to “Barter” tell us that he loved his job in New Orleans but just felt the trail calling him; that he needed an adventure. Soon, Patches arrived with stories of how magically things appear whenever he mentions aloud how he’d like a “six egg omelette” or a “train ride” or “hot dogs”. He couldn’t believe there were hot dogs here; he spent a whole day talking about hot dogs until his hiking buddies were all craving them, too.
Although we enjoyed the trail camaraderie and would have loved to spend more time with Whisper, we had to leave for Beauty Spot Gap. We weren’t sure how long it would take to get there and whether there would be winding single lane forest roads to throw off “Rosie’s” calculated ETA. We said our good byes to Whisper, her dad and our new hiker friends and drove off.
Reality hit when a hiker came over the ridge and down into the gap. It wasn’t Chipmunk but the sight of him made us remember why we were there. I opened the back of the camper and started preparing lunch. I wanted to be ready for Chipmunk’s arrival so that we could make the most of what may be a tight schedule, if she decided to push on the additional 8 miles to Iron Mountain Gap. Papa Chip and I ate the Chicken Caesar Salad Wraps I made and we set aside enough for Chipmunk to have 2 wraps when she arrived. We read our books as we waited, glancing at our watches now and again. According to our earlier calculations, she should be arriving around 2 pm. If she did, and made it back on the trail by 3 pm, there was a very good possibility she could make it to Iron Mountain Gap before dark.
We watched the ridge as our watches ticked ever closer to 2:30 pm. Although she’s not on a timetable nor is it mandatory for her to make the longer distances … in the end, it’s all about laying down the miles she needs in order to make her goal of hiking up Katahdin by the first week of October. When it got to 2:35, Papa Chip said, “that’s her”. We jumped out of the truck cab and I ran to the camper to prepare her wrap. Papa Chip and Chocolate Chip walked to the trail head edge where he let Chocolate Chip off her leash to greet her mom.
there are too many opportunities to get lost, trip over stuff, etc when you hike after dark. Even though she has a
decent headlamp, it’s not the same as natural daylight.
At 2:55 pm, she did her final task before leaving: used our camper bathroom. It may be small but it’s a big step above using shelter privies or the random log side spot. She pulled her pack on, kissed Chocolate Chip and us good bye and headed back where she left off the trail around 3pm. We closed down the camper and hopped into the cab for the ride to Iron Mountain Gap. It was mostly forest service roads but we saw two beautiful deer and several small woodland animals along the way. We also got amazing views when there were gaps in the densely wooded forest.
We arrived at Iron Mountain Gap, parked and took a hike up the AT to get a little exercise. We ran into some hikers we knew and enjoyed exchanging trail gossip. Before long, the sun started to set and I was the first to start to worry. Papa Chip said that he thought she’d arrive by 9pm and encouraged me to rein in my nerves until at
least 9pm. For lack of a better plan, I agreed. We read, we tidied up and we pulled everything to make dinner.
Suddenly, Papa said, “did you hear that?” I hadn’t and figured he had heard the evening bugs chatting with one another. He said,“Shh. Listen.” I stood quietly for quite some time and then I heard what sounded like a female voice. I almost dismissed it again but this time Chocolate Chip was on her feet, jumping at the camper door.
We all tumbled out the back of the camper and Papa Chip yelled, “Who is it?” No answer. We walked/jogged towards the trail head and waited, looking for a head lamp or something moving. Then we heard, “Coco … Coco.”
Chocolate Chip ran down the trail and we yelled, “Neva!” She said, “Yep, it’s me. I’m tired but I’m here.” It was 8:40 pm. Soon, we could see the outline of her and my heart raced.
a family of four! She devoured one and a half big plates of it before saving a decent portion for her loyal pup. She washed up, brushed her teeth and then read until she fell asleep. Before we fell asleep, Papa Chip said, “Man, she’s a determined kid.” I concur.
Check out “Chipmunk’s Pics” tab (on www.ridethenation.org) for a
better look at what she sees while out on the trail. On youtube.com, her username is OpenlyMountainGoat if you want to check out any amateur video of her hike; we just started that account and will be
adding more video soon.
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, you can do so via the “donate” button at the top right side of this blog and we’ll be glad to treat Chipmunk to something special. 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. She or we (email@example.com) 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)