meet up with Chipmunk. Again, we followed the winding mountain roads and sorted out the jumble of a GPS we call “Rosie”. As we closed in on Sam’s Gap, Papa Chip spotted a White Blaze and then we saw a parking area ahead. We pulled in and spotted a couple hikers we hadn’t met before: “Jolly Green Giant”and “Ramp”. I walked up and introduced myself and asked if they knew Chipmunk”. They said, “everyone knows Chipmunk.” And yes, they had seen her; passed her about 5 miles back and said she looked a bit tired. It was about 2pm then and we figured that she’d be arriving about that time. Their news was helpful and put my mind at ease. While we waited for her arrival, I tore off and folded toilet paper, putting 2 pieces each into ziplock style baggies. Chipmunk carries them in her pack so that she has the TP she needs and a disposal baggie so that she adheres to the “leave no trace behind” practice.
and a single Crocs style shoe on top. Almost every gap has a spot where hikers leave behind books they’ve read, messages scrawled on scraps of paper for friends they’ve outhiked, shoes they’ve found along the trail, and other items that hikers have unknowingly left behind at shelters. Considering most hikers carry cell phones but seldom have service and usually conserve their battery life for emergencies … this message system is the next best option. Again, the hikers really do look out for and help one another. After a month on the trail, we know most of the thru hikers and they know
that we worry about Chipmunk. They often walk up to our truck and give us Chipmunk updates. We were pleasantly surprised when “CheatahBeav” walked up and told us that he “had a message directly from Chipmunk: She’s tired, taking it easy and won’t be into the gap until 4 or 5pm.” I thanked him for the message and asked if he liked Clif Bars and he nodded. I pulled 2 from the camper that Chipmunk didn’t like and asked if he liked that flavor. He said yes and thanked us.
known as “Flo-Rida”. Chipmunk often refers to him as the “Ridiculously Photogenic Hiking Guy”. He does often look very pulled together, clean and neat … especially in comparison to most other hikers. We talked for a bit and then he decided to hike on and we decided to head back into town. Chipmunk had hiked 8.5 miles and said she was a little tired and we thought it was a good idea to do a “NERO” day, a “near Zero” hiking day.
ordered a Triple Cheeseburger Combo. She devoured it while Papa Chip had a Chicken Asiago Club sandwich and fries; I had a jr. cheeseburger and fries. After dinner, we checked out a local video store to see if they had any good DVDs to watch on the computer. They didn’t. As we rode towards our camping spot for the evening, Chipmunk told us how the day’s weather was different depending on which side of the mountain ridge you were on. On one side, it was
cold and windy; on the other side, sunny and warm. She took off and put back on her hat several times and wavered between
sweating and feeling chilled throughout her day.
Tired, nauseated, sweaty then chilled … OMG! I grabbed a large bowl from the cabinet and said, “just in case, keep this near you.” She laid down to sleep and within 20 minutes, she made the gagging noise that pulls parents out of their bed and to their child’s side in lightning speed. She was sitting up in her bunk, looking dazed and holding the bowl. It was about 10pm when she started vomiting and she wretched about every 20-30 minutes until 3am. After the first round, she also got diarrhea and luckily, made it to the “closet” toilet in time. She grew
weaker as the night went on and each time I helped her back to her bunk. A very good pediatrician once told me
that the only way to properly handle a virus is to wait until the vomiting stops, let the stomach rest for at least 2 hours and then take 1 teaspoon of water; if the belly holds that in, 1 more teaspoon every hour for 4 hours. If there’s no vomiting, increase to a cup of water or Gatorade. On her 2nd teaspoonful of water, I also had her take an Imodium AD pill.
Between bouts, I looked up hotel options on my phone so that Chipmunk could recover in comfort. Luckily, I found a Red Roof Inn in Johnson City, TN that not only was affordable but also did not charge extra for bringing a pet! That made Chocolate Chip happy. We drove there and checked in at 1pm. Chipmunk’s color has been returning and she doesn’t sound nearly as sluggish when she talks. She’ll rest today and then we’ll all re-evaluate her condition Monday morning and decide if she’ll return to the trail then or if she needs an additional day of rest.
I suppose, we should look at the up side of this ordeal: She didn’t get sick while actually out hiking. Today is rainy and would have been a miserable hiking day. In the meantime, I’m concerned about the other hikers she may have unknowingly exposed to the virus; hikers who may have to deal with the symptoms mid-trail or in a shelter and privy; all of them without a mom or dad to comfort them. My heart goes out to them. There have been so many hikers stricken with the Norovirus even though many are hand washing and using hand sanitizer. Luckily, it looks like the worst of it is over in 12 hours … fingers crossed here.
Brother Chip sent her a hand drawn picture and words of comfort to
Chipmunk. This morning, she looked at it and welled up with tears.
She really misses him and I hope we’ll all reconnect somewhere along the trail, as we get closer to our old home in Jersey.
Check out “Chipmunk’s Pics” tab (on www.ridethenation.org) for a
better look at what she sees while out on the trail. On youtube.com, her username is OpenlyMountainGoat if you want to check out any amateur video of her hike; we just started that account and will be
adding more video soon.
We are trying to build support and maybe even get some sponsors
to help in the expenses of Chipmunk’s quest to become the youngest solo thru hiker to complete the Appalachian Trail. We could use your help. If you enjoy reading the story of our adventure, and you’d like to send a donation, you can do so via the“donate”button at the top right side of this blog and we’ll be glad to treat Chipmunk to something special with the “trail magic” you send. Feel free to forward our website link (or email updates) to your family, friends, co-workers, etc, (www.ridethenation.org). Chipmunk maintains a twitter account: @openlymtngoat where a common
hashtag is #GoChipmunk and she can receive personal messages directly to her email: email@example.com She or we (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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)