Day 199 on the Appalachian Trail Miles Hiked to Date: 2132 Hiked yesterday: 14 Trail Miles, 3.8 off trail miles, Miles left to hike: 52
First, from now until the end of Chipmunk's hike, she asked me to post this link to her Hike For Mental Health Fundraising page: https://www.z2systems.com/np/clients/hike/campaign.jsp?campaign=13&team=145&fundraiser=1052&
She asked me to tell our readers that she (and we) have enjoyed having all of you along for this adventure. Please consider donating to HFMH if you've enjoyed being a part of her hike. She said, "It would be the best trail magic!"
Second, there will likely be an additional hike update posted today, since I fell behind a bit in my blogging due to the "Katahdin incident". Check back soon (later today) for the next day's update.
Third, I have to share this message I received this morning from Chipmunk's Aunt Janice:
Hi Mama Chip!
In honor of Chipmunk’s amazing feat/feet, I have come up with a recipe for Chipmunk ice cream. Don’t worry, it’s not really Chipmunk flavor.
I can understand why Ben & Jerry need a year to develop a recipe. It’s hard. But I didn’t have a year, so I did it all in one gloriously chocolaty week. I would’ve liked to tweak it a little more, but my freezer is filled with ice cream and my closet is filled with pants that don’t fit.
Here comes the recipe:
AUNT JANICE’S SUPER CHOCOLATE CHIPMUNK CRUNCH ICE CREAM with an optional grown-up twist (for twisted grown-ups)
- 100 g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate (70 %) broken in pieces
- 300 ml (1 ¼ c) whole milk
- 85 g (½ c) sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 ½ - 2 TBSP instant espresso powder (optional grown-up version)
- 300 ml (1 ¼ c) heavy cream (38 % fat)
- 2-3 TBSP Kahlua (optional grown-up version)
- 100 g (3.5 oz) chocolate, chopped in fairly fine bits, but not super fine (Use whatever kind of chocolate you want, but you might want to stick to dark chocolate in the grown-up version. It’s more sophisticated. I used a mixture of dark and milk chocolate – bonus if it has tiny bits of chopped nuts in it.)
- about 2 handfuls mixed nuts, chopped, but not too finely
1) Heat the dark chocolate and milk (and espresso powder if making the grown-up version) while stirring. Be careful not to let it boil or burn. Then let it cool a little while you prepare the next step.
2) Beat the sugar and egg yolks until pale and thick. Stir in the cooled chocolate milk. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the pot.
3) Heat carefully while stirring. Don’t let it boil. This part takes some time, so put on an audio-book or some good tunes to listen to while you stir. Keep heating and stirring until the mixture thickens. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon – sort of pudding- or custard-like.
4) Pour into a bowl and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Once it’s cool enough, put it in the refrigerator for a while (a few hours or overnight) to cool even more. (Remember to lick the empty pot and the spoon. It’s yummy good. Don’t burn yourself. Let the pot cool a little.)
5) Whip the cream into soft peaks and fold gently into the cooled custard.
6) Put the mixture into the ice-cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. (Don’t forget to lick the empty bowl while you’re waiting.)
7) When the ice-cream is semi-stiff, add the Kahlua (if making the grown-up version), nuts and chocolate bits. Churn until done.
8) Empty the ice cream into a container and put in the freezer until it stiffens properly. (Make sure you remember to lick the ice cream churn, but be careful not to let your tongue freeze and stick to it.)
9) Eat ice cream. Collapse into a chocolate induced coma.
I hope you enjoy it. You’d better try it soon. You only have a few weeks left before your next challenge.
Thanks, Aunt Janice! Very Cool!! (er ... cold!)
We awoke early and all set about doing our morning tasks. By 6:30'AM, we were all dressed & fed, had taken our vitamins and were ready to start the hike day. We climbed out the back door to the empty hiker parking lot. It's still odd for me not to see even one other hiker's car at the trailhead after spending 6 months camped alongside so many other hikers. It felt a bit lonely.
Chipmunk jumped down from the camper and walked to the cab to grab her pack and poles. When I hugged her, I reminded her to be careful, to make sure the bright orange vest stays up on her pack. She smiled a little and said, "Yeah, I'm still hanging out in the woods with a bunch of bearded men ... except these ones have guns." It wasn't something I wanted to think about but that is the reality now.
While I posted the hike update blog, Papa Chip cozied up with the Maine Atlas and Gazeteer. He was trying to find the best way to the meetup spot which was referred to as "Woods Road" in the AT Guide. We've been at this long enough to know that the name of the road is not "Woods", but that it is likely a logging road without an official name.
As I typed the blog, I switched back and forth between our website and Chipmunk's SPOT Tracking page. She was making good progress and when I finished the blog, we headed out. From what Papa Chip saw in the Gazeteer, we might have a tough time getting to this road crossing.
On the map, Papa Chip showed me the planned route and asked me to help him find the roads where he needed to turn. We headed out of town and found the first few roads easily. When we got to the spot where the map showed bold red lines across the road, we quickly learned what those red marks meant.
There was a gate across the road and a sign saying that we'd arrived at a Navy Training Facility. The sign said that drivers needed government authorization to proceed any further. Hmm. The whole thing was a bit perplexing and odd. Neither of us could figure out how the Navy was training for anything on a piece of land so far from shore. But how our government works (... or doesn't work, as has become the norm lately) can be quite befuddling, eh?
I suggested to Papa Chip that we lift the gate and proceed thru; that if we are stopped, we'll turn around and leave. Papa Chip chuckled and said, "No. I don't think we need to take any unnecessary risks. Let's just drive back out and go the other way around." Since Chipmunk was only about halfway thru her hike plan for the day, according to her SPOT page, we figured we had plenty of time.
We drove back out to the main road, took the longer loop around the town and then followed a series of logging roads toward the meetup spot. One of the roads narrowed to about 4' wide and noted on a sign that it was an ATV road. Papa Chip backed out of that road while I checked the Gazeteer for an alternate route.
Before we started off in the new direction, I showed Papa Chip the new route I found. He twisted his face up a bit, made a low growling noise and then pointed the truck in the new direction. I counted off the unnamed dirt roads on the left until we came to the one I thought would work. We turned down the road, whose condition grew ever worse as we proceeded.
We drove slowly along and I noticed that Evil Vengeful Rosie the GPS stopped saying that we were "OFF ROAD" and now displayed the name of the road we had been trying to find. Yes! Success!! Only four and a half more miles on this road to where the Appalachian Trail crosses it!
Papa Chip drove along, turning the wheel this way and that, choosing the "lesser of two evils" as we proceeded. It was a relatively sunny day and I remarked, "If it weren't for all the fallen leaves, you might think it were an early spring day." I started thinking about what we should have for dinner when I looked ahead and yelled, "STOP!"
We walked back to the truck and saw that, according to the GPS, the trail crossing was still 3.8 miles away. Ugh! We weighed our options: 1) drive out and try to text Chipmunk that she'd have to camp ...and hope that she had reception and would receive the message OR 2) Stay put and hope that she'd arrive at the road, take a 50/50 chance and turn in the direction where we were parked (if she turned the wrong way, she'd end up walking into the Navy training area) OR 3) Papa Chip could walk the 3+ miles down the dirt road to where Chipmunk would emerge from the AT in the next few hours, hoping he'd make it there before her.
There wasn't time to waste. I filled two water bottles while Papa Chip changed into hiking clothes. He grabbed the bugout bag, hugged and kissed me and I whispered, "Bring my baby back." He said, "Don't worry", jumped down from the camper, crossed the washout and then disappeared around thr bend. I immediately got busy cleaning up the camper and writing email drafts since I had no reception yet again (I need to break up with AT&T!).
Not one car passed down the road where we were parked off the side. When it got dark, I got pains in my belly from worrying. I checked the time way too often and grew more and more concerned. I think I've worried a lifetime's worth this past 7 months. I am so looking forward to her completing these final miles.
I had the back door on the camper open, with only the screen for shut from the time Papa Chip left until about 7:15 pm, so that I could see them approach by the light of their headlamps. The wind started blowing and it was getting colder and colder. The wind caught the door a few times and slammed it shut. Finally, I let it stay shut in hopes of keeping the cold out so that it would be warmer inside when they arrived home.
I tried to stay busy by pulling the pots I'd need to make dinner. It was about 7:30 and I debated starting to cook. I decided to do everything but the actual cooking. I pulled the ingredients, filled the big pot with water, pulled our plates and silverware, put the spices on the counter, etc. It was about 7:45 pm when I heard the familiar click of hiking poles on the dirt road. I threw the back door open and was met by two white beams of light bobbing down the road towards me. It was either Chipmunk and Papa Chip OR ... aliens! Phwew! It was indeed my daughter and husband.
I stayed in the camper and started cooking while they put their gear in the truck cab. Chipmunk climbed into the camper first and when I hugged her, I couldn't believe how cold her face was. She sat down to remove her boots and I pulled a Dr. Pepper from the cooler for her. While I was there, I grabbed a beer for myself. Papa Chip came in and I hugged and kissed him and said, "Good job." He smiled and said, "I felt like I was waiting for her forever and at one point I said out loud, 'Come on, Neva!' and I was shocked when I heard her say, 'Dad?' I couldn't see her but she was just within earshot." We all laughed about that.
We ate a simple dinner and talked about the weather forecast for the next day. It called for rain from very early morning throughout the day with 50-60% chance of heavy rain several hours of the day. Papa Chip said we should wait and see what the weather looked like in the morning; if it was raining heavily then, we should consider a ZERO. Chipmunk agreed. We all know that she's come too far to risk an injury on wet leaves or risk getting hypothermia.
We didn't chat much after dinner; we were all tired. Chipmunk hiked an extra 3.8 off trail miles, Papa Chip did, too, in order to meet up with Chipmunk where the trail crossed the "road". The muscles in my neck and shoulders felt fatigued for all the wrong reasons.
After we said "I love you" and "good night" to one another, I heard some rain on the camper roof. I was sleepy but I sat up and pulled the thick wool bed cover up over Papa Chip and me. Although the vent over my bunk wasn't leaking yet, it would. I rolled on my side and Papa Chip's arm wrapped around my waist. Chocolate Chip and Chipmunk were already snoring quietly and I'm sure I joined them in short order.
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)