Day 141 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1501 Hiked yesterday: 15 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 683
First, I'm sad to report that an Appalachian Trail hiker fell to his death on August 21st while hiking near the Connecticut/Massachusetts border. I'd like to clarify that the section where he was hiking was a "side trail" off the A.T. that leads to the Race Brooks Falls area, a difficult and treacherous hiking area which many thru hikers do not visit (including Chipmunk); but some do. We did not personally know the hiker and suspect that he and his brother were possibly section hikers or southbound thru hikers. Nonetheless, it has shaken us and our thoughts are with his family and friends as they deal with this tragedy. http://www.registercitizen.com/general-news/20130823/police-id-hiker-who-died-after-fall-on-appalachian-trail
Second, to all the hiker moms and dads who follow Chipmunk's blog here, please, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) pics of your sons and daughters atop Katahdin. I'd love to share the pics with our readers, as they've heard about their journeys here, too.
While we were listening, a couple of cyclists rode into the parking area and started loading their bikes into the VW Westfalia van next to us. We turned off the cassette and greeted them. The couple was retired and cycling and hiking enthusiasts. They are in their 70's now and bicycle all around the world. We exchanged stories and found that we'd been to quite a few of the same places. It was a nice way to while away an hour as we waited for Chipmunk. We wished them well when they headed out and resumed listening to the Mt. Everest story.
Chipmunk arrived mid afternoon and was ready for a sandwich. I made her a tuna fish sandwich while she munched on her favorite salty snack, Doritos. After lunch, she confirmed that she was hiking on and we coordinated a late day meet up that might be a little tricky. The only road crossing we could find within the number of miles she planned to hike was referred to in the A.T. Guide as: "Unmarked trail 0.6W to Mt. Washington Rd." We gave her a back up plan which was that if we didn't meet up by the intended hour (i.e. if the road wasn't passable, or if we had a vehicle issue and couldn't reach her) that she was to camp at the closest shelter. Although I hated the idea of not seeing or talking to her at the end of her hiking day, I knew that there may be a time when we have no cell service and a reason to be prepared for just such a situation. We hugged and kissed her good bye and she resumed the trail.
Early on, we found ourselves on gravel and dirt roads that were marked but getting increasingly more remote. My phone lost cell reception and now the GPS pointer on my phone stalled and then lurched forward to spots kinda near where we should be. I didn't start to worry until Evil Vengeful Rosie displayed a white screen with our truck suspended in it and the phrase: "Awaiting Better Accuracy". Hmmm. Intermittently, the screen would flash a roadway and then revert to the white screen. UGH! I kept following the phone GPS map and we both watched for trailhead signs. I must admit I was concerned. I was so concerned that I had the sudden urge to go to the bathroom ... but, I didn't want to stop on this single lane road with turnouts few and far between.
We pulled into the clearing off the road and parked. Papa Chip volunteered to walk down the path and leave a note for Chipmunk so that she'd know which "unmarked" trail to take to meet us. He returned about 40 minutes later and said he was pretty sure she'd be able to find us.
About 3 hours later, Chipmunk called to us from the trail, saying "So I'm guessing there isn't any Wifi here." I laughed and took her poles from her as she undid the clasps on her pack and let it fall to the ground beside the truck, so she could scoop up Chocolate Chip. We chatted for a few minutes, asking her about her hiking day before we all piled into the camper. Papa Chip fixed a simple dinner of Chef Boyardee Ravioli while I fought an overwhelming sleepiness. (I had a few bouts of Vertigo the night before and found it easier to stay awake with my head "level" than to return to sleep and be "thrown" awake into a spinning camper.) So, I was awakened to a hot plate of Ravioli, which I ate and then returned to my slumber. Apparently, I missed a round of Papa Chip and Chipmunk playing "swing the back door open" with just enough force to keep it from coming back on the slight slope we were parked upon ... ahh, the evening entertainment!
In the morning, we discovered that we were parked just across the Connecticut/Massachusetts border and that although Chipmunk was in Massachusetts that night, she'd officially cross the border into Massachusetts via the A.T., shortly after walking .6 mi. South on the unmarked trail and then walking North on the A.T. in the morning.
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)