Day 98 Appalachian Trail, VA Miles Hiked to Date: 990 Hiked yesterday: 7 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1193
First, thanks to Dillon for his generous donation of Chipmunk Bucks! Chipmunk said "That's for Pizza!"
Second, Thanks to Janice for putting "weather" in perspective for us noting that she's still wearing gloves and the occasional scarf in her part of the world: Norway. My, my Janice, you are in for a shock when you land in the U.S. in a week!
We had chosen a midday meet up spot and I told her I’d text her and let her know if I could get the truck into there. When I posted the blog, I checked her SPOT location and compared it to the Google maps and Evil Vengeful Rosie the GPS. I felt like I had a good grip on where the meet up spot was … but I was concerned that it was referred to as a “gravel road” in the A.T. Guide.
I decided not to linger in town since it might take a while to find the meet up spot. I started driving and although Evil Vengeful Rosie and my Google Maps Navigation (on my smartphone) didn’t agree at the start, they both directed me to the same spot once I was within a few miles of where I thought I needed to be. That was a good sign.
I drove up a winding but paved road and both GPS devices told me to turn right onto an unpaved road, which it identified as the road named in the A.T. Guide. As I drove down the single lane road, I hoped I wouldn’t encounter an oncoming vehicle since I didn’t see many turnouts. The road was passable as long as I kept it around 10-15 mph.
Soon, Evil Vengeful Rosie announced that I had “arrived” and then within a tenth of a mile, she slipped into her “When possible, make a u-turn” repeating loop. She wouldn’t stop until I turned her off. I glanced at my phone and saw that Google Maps showed the trailhead in about a quarter mile. I saw a rocky embankment on the right and a narrow trail on the left and a small clearing … enough to pull ye olde “po’ white trash truck camper” into.
I parked and pulled out a chair for Chocolate Chip and me to sit in the shade. Soon, a hiker arrived and sat down. His trail name is “Snakebite” (yes, because he was bitten by a snake, non poisonous, FYI) and told me that he was waiting for a ride into town. We talked for a while and a few more hikers arrived. I had some cold Cokes and after hiking 3 miles of the “Roller Coaster”, they were all drenched in sweat and deserved a cold drink.
As I sat there, my phone suddenly beeped, letting me know I had a text message. I was surprised to have a signal and even more surprised to read the text. It was my old BMX friends, Ellie and Mike, telling me that they were near Front Royal and wanted to meet up, if possible. I texted where we were and told them not to come down the unpaved road with their truck and pull behind camper, but to wait at the intersection of it and the paved road 1.5 miles away from me.
When Chipmunk arrived, I didn’t tell her that they were nearby but rather said, “Hop in the truck to cool down while I drive Snakebite into town.” She put her pack in and we all drove the rocky road up to the paved road. Ellie and Mike were sitting there and beeped their horn at us. I told Chipmunk that it looked like a fellow RV’er needed help and we should see what we can do. When we stopped, I told her to get out and see what they needed. At the same time, Ellie climbed out of the passenger side of their truck and I watched as Chipmunk first looked confused and then burst into a big smile. Ellie and Chipmunk have been “partners in crime” for over 11 years; since Chipmunk decided to start BMX racing when she was just a toddler.
Ellie hugged Chipmunk and I was almost in tears watching. She and Mike have been “along for the ride” during Chipmunk’s racing career, our family’s 3800 mile bicycle ride and now Chipmunk’s A.T. hike. Ellie is a “no nonsense” kind of woman who has always treated Chipmunk as an equal … and I think that’s made a world of difference to her when those around her often saw her as a “little kid” with “crazy ideas”. Ellie always just asked, “what do you want to do? I’ll help you.” From the first day she duct taped a racing helmet on then 4 year old Chipmunk’s head and showed her the ropes at Mullica Hill BMX, the two have been good buds.
After relaxing, Chipmunk was reluctant to return to the Roller Coaster so we decided to find a place to camp for the night. Snakebite pointed out that there was a Walmart not far from there and that he’d appreciate a ride there if we chose to go that way. Sounded like a good idea so we went with it. While we drove, a huge rain storm started and when we arrived at the Walmart, we decided to give Snakebite a ride to his final destination which was only about 5 miles away. I drove Snakebite there while Chipmunk, Ellie and Mike shopped in Walmart.
When I returned, Mike said that he wanted to get us a fan for the truck camper, since Papa Chip sheered off the A/C earlier in the trip. We looked at fans while Chipmunk and Ellie looked at make-up and nail polish. (That Ellie! Such a slave to her beauty regimen!) Chipmunk picked out some much needed beauty supplies and bought them with a $20 bill Mike and Ellie slipped to her. Unfortunately, there were no 12 volt fans at Walmart but there was a Camping World nearby. We decided to drive there because they offer free camping and we were sure they’d have a 12 volt fan and the wiring needed.
Along the way, we stopped at an Outback Steakhouse, where Chipmunk had some of the best Trail Magic she’s had in a long while. She enjoyed a steak dinner and a barrage of desserts. We talked about all kinds of stuff over dinner and caught up on what’s happening in our kids’ lives. It seems like yesterday that her then teenage boys were BMX racing and Chipmunk had a crush on one of them, who was at least 10 years older than her tender age of 7. That didn’t matter to her; she told all of her girlfriends that he was her boyfriend. Their sons and my little girl have grown up a lot since then.
After dinner, we set up our camp spots and talked until dark. Ellie said she wanted to ride to the trailhead with us in the morning so I told her I’d knock on her camper door early the next morning. “How early?” she said. I told her I figured about 6 AM. Her eyes got big and I told her that she could sleep in and I’d see her when I returned. She insisted she wanted to join us and to tell you the truth, I was really glad. It is so nice to have someone along with me. I do get a bit lonely sometimes. With that, we all headed into our “homes on wheels” and fell asleep, our bellies full of Outback style Trail Magic.
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)