Day 119 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1242 Hiked yesterday: 16 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 941
First, thanks to all of the Chipsters that leave blog comments and send messages. I enjoy reading them all and every evening, I share them with Chipmunk, letting her know that she's not alone in this quest.
Second, to Jen A.W., I'm sorry we didn't get to meet up again before Chipmunk headed on; I am trying to see as many friends and family as we can and still be able to let Chipmunk rest in the evenings. We truly enjoyed seeing you and your kids at Pine Grove Furnace and Chipmunk loves her "I really tried" spoon custom made by you!
She is currently putting in 10-12 hour days of strenuous hiking to try to get further along the trail and closer to her goal. We're considering a few different contingency plans if she is not where she needs to be in order to summit before Baxter State Park closes access to Katahdin on October 15th (or at the first snow storm, whichever comes first). I'll keep you posted.
She hiked, I blogged and then I headed to the midday meet up point to see how she was doing and to give her a cold drink.
Chipmunk arrived around 2 pm and got some love from Chocolate Chip. The weather had warmed up but was still breezy so Chipmunk unzipped her pant legs and converted to shorts wearing. She told me that she saw Talker's name in one of the trail registers and that he is only 4 days ahead right now. She said she wished she had long legs like his.
Salty Toes asked how old Chipmunk was and who she was hiking with; Chipmunk explained her quest as Salty Toes and her hiking partner listened.
They put their packs on and chatted while they prepared to hike on. She told Chipmunk how emotionally spent she felt after hiking the last section. Chipmunk quietly nodded and said, "Yeah." Since I don't go on the trail and Chipmunk gives me only "tidbits" of info about it, I was fascinated to hear her fellow hikers' take on it. As Salty Toes clicked the last of her pack clasps, she said, "It's the hardest thing I've ever done."
To her surprise, they took a pic of the camper where their signatures were. I laughed quietly as Chipmunk looked at me surprised. What a great way to keep the kid humble, huh?? The next time she says, "Yes, you had a long day ... but I HIKED ALL DAY", I'm going to say, "Yes, you're famous on the trail BUT my little Po' White Trash Truck Camper also appears in many a hikers' pics!"
She headed back onto the trail with a hug and a kiss and said that she would try to make it to our end point by 7 pm ... and she did. I was parked in the shade at the trailhead which had an unusually large parking area. In the time I was there, many a local person arrived and hiked the short distance to the iconic Bake Oven Knob location. We were a good distance from town and I planned on staying the night at the trailhead but was concerned that locals might use the spot as a hangout. I figured we could leave if it got too noisy or if I felt like we weren't safe.
I made one of Chipmunk's favorite camper meals: Spaghetti with Chicken nuggets, my version of Chicken Parmesan. We ate dinner and watched another episode of Sherlock, both of us fully addicted to the really well made show. When it ended, it was near 9 pm and we called it a night.
It was pretty quiet then and there were only a few cars in the lot. I still did all the safety measures I do every night before crawling into my bunk. Surprisingly, I fell asleep quickly and slept soundly until I awoke to voices and narrow lights dancing on the walls and ceiling of the camper. I froze and strained to listen to what the voices were saying. I heard a steady "clunking" noise and there were definitely a few male voices and one female voice. Chipmunk stayed asleep and I didn't wake her as I turned over in my bunk to peer out the tiny bunk window behind my head. As I did, I heard, "Is that Mama Chip's truck?"
I knew it had to be hikers and then I heard the distinctive laugh of Gilgamesh. The clunking noise had to be his crazy 8 lbs rebar hiking poles. I called out and said, "Who's that coming in so late?" and was met with a chorus of "Mama Chip!" It was 10:45 pm and Chipmunk awoke as we called out to one another. She sat up and said, "who's out there?" I told her it was Gilgamesh and maybe Joe Cool. Chipmunk said, "Cool. Let's see if they want cold drinks."
I got out of my bunk, opened the back door and was greeted by 4 hikers with their headlamps on. I turned on the back light and they turned their headlamps off as I passed them drinks. I remembered that we had left over spaghetti and chicken and asked if anyone was hungry, saying I had maybe 2 plates' worth. Joe Cool said she was starving and to no one's surprise, Snacks said, "I'll take some". (Snacks' trail name is perfect! He eats every chance he gets and is never full. Ironically, he's not a big guy. I need that guy's metabolism!) I warmed up the left overs as Chipmunk and they talked trail.
We enjoyed a late night visit with Gilgamesh, Joe Cool, Snacks and Hail Satan (formerly Beaver; also formerly "Allstate"). They asked Chipmunk how she did on the Knife's Edge and she said, "It was rough. How in the world did you do that in the dark?" Gilgamesh explained that they all had headlamps on and that Joe Cool crawled over the rocks in a "Spider Man" style; that Hail Satan and Snacks actually played "Hot Lava" thru that section and looked like they were doing a contorted Fox Trot or something. They all enjoyed laughs about the tough section of trail they'd just finished before I stepped in as the mom and told them we had to get back to sleep. They asked if Chipmunk would stop at the camp area 2/10ths of a mile in from the trailhead and wake them in the morning. She said she would and we wished everyone good night. Snacks and Joe Cool thanked me again for the spaghetti and they all chimed in with thank you's for the drinks.
When I got back into bed, I asked Chipmunk more about the Knife's Edge. She explained that the trail is completely rocks and that the Knife's Edge is a long series of rocks where you walk across the pointy top edge of slanted rocks, with cliffs on the trailside. Lots of hikers turn ankles and fall thru this section. When I asked more questions, she said, "Mom, I'm really tired. And besides, it's behind me now so I don't want to think about it any more. I love you. Good Night." I went back to sleep impressed by how well she is handling all of this. I also felt safer knowing that Chipmunk's fellow hikers were close by.
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)