Day 9: Swaim Gap (Mile 34.5)-North of Low Gap (Mile 44); 9.5 miles
The temperature plummeted well below freezing and a cold wind blew intensely all night. We tossed and turned in our sleeping bags. Sleep was fleeting. When sunlight reached our tent, we peeped out to find that the ground was covered in snow!
Though the sun shone brightly, the entire day proved very cold. Frigid wind stung our hands and faces. Our water bottle remained a solid brick of ice. (We had prevented our water bladders from freezing by keeping them inside our sleeping bags overnight.) At least the white carpet of snow covering every surface was beautiful to see.
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 2: Long Creek (Mile 4.7)-East of Justus Creek (Mile 15); 10.3 Miles
Our first night on the Appalachian Trail brought bitter cold and powerful wind. We had planned for cold weather but 9 degrees (with wind chill) chilled us to the bone. Neither of us slept much.
In the morning when we pulled the tarp stakes out, clumps of dirt were frozen so solidly to the stakes that we couldn’t remove the dirt. We finished packing up quickly and started hiking to get our blood flowing. Gradually our fingers and toes began to defrost.
As we warmed up, Shutterbug began to notice that his left knee was sore. The pain was slight but it was bothersome to swing his leg forward, especially on downhill sections.