Day 148 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 1606 Hiked yesterday: 19 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 578
First, Hi, Kara! Glad to hear from you again!
Second ... Aunt Janice: I'm sorry I was late getting yesterday's blog posted. Not all days are equal. On my way to the coffee shop, I got a phone call from an old trail friend, Uke!. When we discovered we were in the same town, we changed up our day's plans so that we could hang out and catch up. It was great seeing him and I lost all track of time ... and, er ... commitments. My apologies to our other readers, too. But it was really great to spend some time with him.
Chipmunk and Amy had decided they would hike 19 miles, a big day, skip a shelter stay and then meet us where the trail crosses Vermont 9. Amy laced up her boots (Vasque, by the way) and got ready to hike.
Papa Chip and I drove the vehicles into town and stopped for Wifi and coffee at the Bennington, VT Dunkin Donuts. They had easily accessible outlets and lots of tables and chairs ... over half were occupied by computer users, like myself.
While we received her messages, we were enjoying the beautiful state of Vermont. There are lots of quaint towns with older wooden houses on tree lined streets. There are big mountains all around and it just feels wonderful to be here. It is quintessential New England.
Unfortunately, so did the 3 dogs we had at that time. About 6 months after we bought it, while we were out at a BMX race, the 3 dogs decided to find out what was beneath the fabric covering on my chaise. When we arrived home, we were greeted by shreds of fabric, tufts of foam and polyfil stuffing when we opened the door. Ugh! They had completely destroyed the chaise lounge I painstakingly chose and had made for me. I cried and was upset for a few days but my dog, Petey, kept trying to comfort me and I suppose, in her own way, apologize.
Later that same year, I had an episode of depression that hit me hard and I spent more than a few weeks in my bed. Petey laid at my side every day, leaving only to eat and go outside. She was such a non-intrusive comfort to me that didn't need an answer as to why I was depressed; nor did she need to know when I'd be back to normal. It was a particularly difficult time that I finally made my way out of; I went back to running our event business and being with the family I so loved.
Once I was back into my usual routine, Petey went back to playing with the other two dogs. I remember thinking that it would be so nice if we all could be so intuitive and non-demanding when we recognize or know that someone is dealing with a mental health issue. Unfortunately, even now, it's still such an uncomfortable subject that leaves many of us feeling helpless, without the tools to help or even the words to talk about it.
When Chipmunk decided to partner with www.hikeformentalhealth.org and raise awareness about this very subject, I was so proud of her. I can only hope that we continue to grow as a society and find a way to see it and treat it with the ease and skill that we treat common fractures, sprains, etc. I am so glad that I occasionally see strides in that direction; it gives me hope.
When they were searching for a place to stay in town, I offered my AT Guide and Sheila called a local motel. While they waited for their shuttle, I offered them some Paramount Fit Foods jerky. In return, they gave me a beer from some trail magic that a friend left for them at the trailhead. Niiiiiiice!
I noticed that A-O was watching the process and kind of looked like he wanted to intervene but didn't want to "step on the toes" of the south bounder, who continued to talk about what an amazing outdoorsman he was. A while later, I wandered back to the camp area to see if any of them wanted a cold drink. I saw the fire was roaring and I said, "Oh, the campfire looks great!" The southbounder barely registered that I spoke but I saw a small smile form on the lips of A-O. As I walked back towards the parking area, River joined me and said that A-O finally jumped in and within moments had the fire lit. She smiled with pride and I said, "Cool."
We crossed the road to the truck and as they dropped packs and removed boots, Papa Chip made up a tray of Pepperoni, Cheese and Triscuits. I offered them cold drinks and we all munched and talked about their hiking day. While we talked, I realized that it had been an almost worry free day for me. I knew Chipmunk was with a strong, smart woman who is probably one of the most physically fit and capable people I've ever personally known.
I asked Amy if she thought she'd be able to hike the next day and she said that she planned to ice her knee and them see how it was in the morning. By 9pm, Amy had driven away and we were in the camper fixing an easy dinner. Chipmunk told us a little about her hiking day before chowing down and going to sleep. She had hiked 19 miles and was tired. It was nice to go to sleep to the sound of her quiet snoring and the nearby stream.
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)