Day 189 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 2041 Hiked yesterday: 15 Trail Miles, Miles left to hike: 142
Hang in there ... grab a cup 'o joe, I've got a bunch of comments before I get to the hike update itself ...
First, to Erica R., Thanks for your generous donation; we really appreciate it. Also, if you posted the blog comment as "EMR", thanks for the tip on zennioptical.com ... going to check it out!
Second, to Sherpa ... 2003, thanks for your support! And kudos to you for hiking with a 12 year old son! Keep your eye out on the mountain ... you might just see a small woodland animal about.
Third, to the MacKay's of Maine ... thanks for making us feel welcome! And feel free to follow along since this blog will cover all of Chipmunk's hike plus the people and places we'll see as we drive southward after the final miles have been hiked.
Fourth, to Rosie S. ... you're right! There are some great people and places in Ohio I'd like to revisit. Why don't you research an Ohio based physical challenge for me to consider in my healthy weight loss challenge ahead? No promises, but I seldom miss the opportunity for a good road trip!
Fifth ... Welcome to all of our new readers who discovered Chipmunk's story here in Maine. Feel free to share your thoughts about our adventure via our comments section.
With that, I'd like to share with you a link to check out the Bangor Daily News article that Chipmunk recently interviewed for: http://bangordailynews.com/2013/10/09/outdoors/girl-hikes-through-maine-to-become-youngest-solo-at-thru-hiker/
Also, here's a quick link to a story I discovered on my friend, Tom K.'s Facebook page about a PCT hiker, that further cements my feelings about the dedication and compassion of the hiking community: http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=436514
And now, the actual hike update ....
I awoke several times in the night to the sound of intermittent rain on the roof of the camper. I was glad that there wasn't much wind because the roof leak only lets a few drip drops in during light rain, no matter how many times we caulk the leaks. I pulled the big water repellant wool cover over us, just in case. When our alarms rang out at 5:30 AM, I pulled myself upright and jumped down from my bunk. The floor was cold as I shuffled through the pile of boots and shoes to get to our bathroom door. Papa Chip and Chocolate Chip made their way outside and I felt the damp air come in thru the open camper door.
I let Chipmunk sleep until the water on the stove was fully heated for her "goat" meal. I woke her and she stretched before sitting up and taking her bowl. I saw a band aid stuck on her comforter and told her that I wanted to re-examine some spots on the back of her legs where I had applied Benadryl cream and band aids the night before. After breakfast, she paused while getting dressed and I reapplied the antibiotic creme and band aids. The spots look mostly like bug bites that are irritated; I'm keeping an eye on them to make sure they don't get infected.
While I answered them, I noticed that the truck was no longer running and that Papa Çhip had popped the hood. My brain sprang into "Oh, Boy!" mode. I instantly wondered if his sudden under the hood attention had something to do with the brake light which came on recently.
Just about then, the woman at the other end of the phone line said that she'd open the gate for us to proceed. At that point, Papa Çhip was under the hood, adjusting something. I asked the woman how long the gate would be up and she said, "I'll leave it up until he gets done under the hood." I thanked her and hung up the phone ... and then it struck me as I returned to the truck that we were being watched. By the time I reached the truck, the hood was down and Papa Chip was getting in the driver's seat. I asked what had happened under the hood and he said, "Apparently, the rough logging roads jostled the battery cable loose. I put it back on, but remind me to tighten it when we stop. As we drove under the open gate, I spotted a discreetly mounted camera. It was a bit creepy.
Nonetheless, we drove onward, tracking milage on the odometer and counting off the number of roads we needed to pass on the right before we took our right turn onto Stream Road and then another right onto Nahmatanka Road, a "lesser maintained" logging road. There seemed to be an extra road between the last counted road and our turn. It was mostly grassy with wheel depressions, indicating it was used by vehicles, but wasn't as well travelled as the dirt and gravel roads. Papa Chip hesitated and then declared, "No. That's not our turn off. We'll drive a little further and see."
We came upon another dirt road in about 1/2 a mile and Papa Chip turned right. We drove down the narrowing road until it was just wide enough for one vehicle. We saw a sign for a boat launch and he said, "Yeah. I'm pretty sure this is it." We drove about a mile further and came upon a bridge. I yelled "Stop!"
Papa Chip backed up from the bridge and parked the po' white trash truck camper in a clearing near the trailhead. We climbed out of the truck and took a look around in the misty morning rain. Then, we returned to the camper to take care of a few chores: straightening out and re-shelving all the stuff that got jostled out of place along the logging roads, stitching up holes in Chipmunk's hiking pants and my socks, etc. Papa Chip better tightened the battery cable that was jarred loose at the last checkpoint.
With chores done, we both decided to read in our bunk. It felt good to snuggle up under the covers with our books while it rained on and off throughout the cool, dreary day. We saw a few hikers cross the road where we were parked and most waved and kept moving. Around 3 in the afternoon, we heard Chipmunk hollar from the trail. Wow! She had made good time and came in a full hour earlier than we expected.
She put her pack and poles in the truck cab and climbed into the camper. Papa Chip started heating a pot of water for hot chocolate while she and I unlaced and pulled her boots off. She told us the trail was muddy; that she was grateful for the board walks, even though some of them were not nailed down well. Some wobbled side to side; some see sawed up when you stepped on the ends ... and some did both. She only slipped off one board and didn't fully submerge her boot. Overall, she said that the terrain was good and that she took the opportunity to make some good miles and get in a little earlier than usual. I thanked her for that, saying that I hadn't even reached the "worrying hour" by the time she arrived.
Chipmunk drank her hot chocolate and relaxed before getting down to a task whose deadline was looming. She needs to write and submit her TEDx talk speech outline soon. Her speech is supposed to be about 15-18 minutes long and she is scheduled to present it and be videotaped on November 16th at the Tampa Bay Florida TEDx Youth event. She pulled her notes and practiced what she has written so far. We timed it and gave her pointers before Papa Çhip started dinner.
We chatted with Avocado and Garden Girl while the moose lingered across the bridge. I asked them if they'd like some bananas and they both said, "Yes!". I gave them each a banana before they gingerly walked back to the trailhead, just this side of the bridge.
As it grew darker outside, we finished our evening chores and each of us crawled into our bunks. We discussed the next day's hike plan and Chipmunk did not fully decide how many miles she intended to hike, saying that she wanted to see how her ankle felt in the morning. We all said, "I love you" and "Good Night" and with that, the only light on in the camper was Chipmunk's headlamp, as she read for a while before going to sleep.
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)