Day 93 Appalachian Trail, VA Miles Hiked to Date: 926 Hiked yesterday: 14 Trail Miles, Miles to Katahdin: 1258
First, thanks to Kara H. for your generous donation to Chipmunk! She's thinking about how to spend it on her next Zero Day. Also thanks for your wonderful comments ... they made my day! I love people who think for themselves and decide life on their own terms, not be what someone on the screen tells them to think and do.
I found your blog a few weeks ago - not quite from the beginning - but I have to say that I"m super impressed at the dedication of Chipmunk and your whole familiy to make this happen.
When I first heard about it, it was from someone who was scandalized at the idea of a 14 year old solo thru-hiking. Mind you this is a person who I disagree with on practically everything, so I was pretty sure that if she was naysaying, I'd find it inspiring .. and sure enough.
For whatever it's worth, I read every day to follow Chipmunk on her journey. I am rooting for her to complete her thru-hike and I admire her courage and drive and sheer spunkiness!
FYI, If you love picture books, you may like today's blog.
While we were in Big Meadows Lodge, she casually said, "I'd like to hike the whole thing." I told her I thought there was over a 100 miles of the A.T. in Shenandoah and that our one week's vacation would not allow for hiking all of it. She looked at Papa Chip and me and said, "No. I mean the whole WHOLE thing. You know the Appalachian Trail runs from Georgia to Maine." Of course, we knew that but we just couldn't fathom that our then 14 year old daughter thought it possible to hike over 2000 miles of the trail.
Over lunch, she brought up the idea again and we listened. We didn't dismiss her idea; we just weren't sure how serious she was about it. When we talked about all of us possibly doing it, she corrected us immediately and said that she meant she wanted to do it ... SOLO. Honestly, the thought of it scared me. But I didn't react mostly because I thought she wouldn't follow through on this idea after being home in Florida in a week or so. (Obviously, I was wrong.)
Once back at Big Meadows Lodge, Chipmunk and I ran into "Tune", one of our favorite hikers! He was about to have lunch and asked us to join him and another hiker, "Joe Cool". The four of us sat down and caught up on trail talk. Chipmunk and the hikers ordered burgers and I ordered the turkey pot pie, something I thought would be good on this cooler, misty day. We all enjoyed our lunches.
When the waitress returned with the check, I asked about the "Hiker's discount" which was printed in the 2012 A.T. Guide. She seemed unaware of it and asked her manager. The Food and Beverage manager, Joann Smiley, stopped at our table and clarified that there was no hiker's discount on dining; maybe just camping or lodges? As we talked, Tune and Joe Cool suggested that at least Chipmunk should get a discount, explaining about her amazing quest to become the youngest solo thru hiker ever on the Appalachian Trail. Joann listened, took one of Chipmunk's business cards and said she'd be back. When she returned, she said she decided to comp Chipmunk's entire meal; that she was glad Chipmunk chose to dine there during her amazing journey. Thanks, Joann! That was very kind and a big help to our budget. I hope we'll see you again on our way back to Florida after Chipmunk completes her hike.
Chipmunk lingered in the Great Room after lunch, stuffed with all kinds of culinary goodness! She took the opportunity to go online on her phone and check in with friends. After quite some time, I pointed out to her that she might want to get back on the trail so she can make it to our meet up point before dark. She agreed, walked out front, grabbed her pack and poles and kissed me good bye. As she walked back towards the path, I realized she does look taller. If I didn't know any better, I'd say she looks much like the adult hikers do ... at least from the back.
Chocolate Chip and I drove to the evening meet up point and parked near the horse stables. We found a nice path to take a walk on but Chocolate Chip kept pulling in the direction of the stables. Finally, I gave in and we walked over to where a few men were outside cleaning the horses' hooves. I asked if we could come closer; that Chocolate Chip loves all four leggers; I told them I'd hold Chocolate Chip in my arms. They said that was fine and I slowly walked up until Chocolate Chip's nose was about 6" from one of the horse's noses. She was so excited and kept wiggling, wanting to get down and play with the big beautiful horses. I held her, knowing that she could really get hurt if one of the horses got spooked.
As we stood there, one of the caretakers showed me a picture on his phone of a horse that was bitten by a rattlesnake the day before during one of their trail rides. The horse's nostrils and face were swollen almost beyond recognition and the fellow told me that the vet had to put hoses up into the horse's nostrils so that he could breathe while they treated him. Luckily, the horse is O.K. and is expected to make a full recovery. I told him that my daughter heard and then saw a rattlesnake on the trail and made a wide circle around it, never taking her eye off the snake until she was a good distance away. He said that was a good practice but that the horse's rider never saw or heard the snake that was under brush where the horse decided to nibble. He asked if I was scared knowing my daughter was on the trail where there are snakes. I told him I was but that I felt she was taking as many precautions as she could. As we walked away, I thought of something I had read recently:
"When we are afraid we ought not to occupy ourselves with endeavoring to prove that there is no danger, but in strengthening ourselves to go on in spite of the danger."
- Hale White
Chocolate Chip and I returned to the truck and waited for Chipmunk to arrive. Soon after, Tune stopped in and sat and talked for a short time and then Chipmunk arrived. Tune told us that he planned to do a 24 hour hike in hopes of getting to Harpers Ferry, WV soon where he planned to Zero for 3-4 days. We wished him luck with that before we drove out to Luray for the evening.
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)