Day 5-7: Zero Days in Blairsville, GA
Shutterbug’s left knee was painful and swollen when we reached Neels Gap on Day 4 so we had decided to take a few rest days in Blairsville to let it heal. The four components of RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) have been our main priorities these past three days. The local $3.99 pizza buffet was also important to us. We got our money’s worth.
Shutterbug felt significant improvement after the first rest day but then the healing plateaued. We sought medical advice from places around town, but people were either on vacation or not experienced enough with knee issues to give us any definitive answers. Though we didn’t learn anything new about Shutterbug’s knee pain, we did meet a ton of friendly folks trying their best to help. Thank you.
While we were in Blairsville we also chatted with our friend Jen who is fulfilling book orders for us from Oregon. Since we started hiking there has been a noticeable drop in sales. Jen wants to assure everyone that books are still being shipped even when we’re out hiking. Please help Jen regain space in her living room! You can order here:
Day 8: Neels Gap (Mile 31.5)-Swaim Gap (Mile 34.5); 3 miles
First thing in the morning we called the local physical therapist’s office again. Dr. Rhodes was not only back from vacation, he kindly offered to assess the injury that morning. After manipulating Shutterbug’s knee in a variety of ways, Dr. Rhodes told us everything seemed solid and that something must have just gotten tweaked, which was causing the swelling. Since Dr. Rhodes thought that walking wouldn’t damage the knee, we decided to get back on the trail.
We stopped by CVS to buy a sleeve for Shutterbug’s knee and the post office to swap our tarp for a tent. The tarp worked well but the beginning of the AT is much more crowded than we anticipated and we’re desiring more privacy. At the post office we chatted with Robert, a friendly local who offered us a ride to the trailhead.
Back at the Neels Gap trailhead, we chuckled at this tree decorated with the failed footwear of frustrated hikers. Obviously we aren’t the only hikers struggling with this first section of the AT.
Passing under the bad boot tree, we began gingerly walking north on the AT. Shutterbug’s knee pain remained mild thanks to our slow pace for the first three miles. Then for no apparent reason the pain flared up suddenly. We decided to call it a day.
We set up camp and ate, happy to be back on the trail. While our slow progress was frustrating, we knew it was best to go easy. Hot chocolate was a sweet treat to end the day.