I told my wife yesterday that I might as well take my son back out on the trail to see how quick my need flares up, so today we hiked up to Blood Mountain. It was a really nice day, partly cloudy, with a slight breeze that wafted flower blossom smells through the air. We didn’t step on any snakes or get stung by any flying pollinators. If I could have ordered weather to my specifications, I don’t think I would have changed anything - maybe a couple degrees cooler at the peak of the day.
The winning gear of the day was my new 100% Merino WoolX 160 weight long-sleeve shirt. I was worried the whole time that the rubbing and moving of my backpack would cause pilling or rub holes, but I found no such damage! My wife appreciated the absence of stink when she picked us up at Byron Reece Memorial Trail parking. I was starting to wonder about all that all these companies (e.g. Smartwool) that are milling their fabric with synthetics was necessary for durability, but maybe not? I also sported my BCPP Peaceful Path Buff for sunscreen on my neck.
This time I remembered Advil and my knee brace. I took Advil before we left the house and was fine up until about 6.2 miles, when my knee told me that it wasn’t going to cooperate the whole way. By mile 7, I sat to pull my knee brace on. Scrambling around the rocks on Blood Mountain was unpleasant. As we descended on the East side, my knee switched to various levels of pain around mile 9. I’d like to say the faster we walked, the less it hurt. As soon as I sat in the van to drive home, it got really stiff. I suspect the brace didn’t help other than to remind me to take stairs by favoring my good knee.
As we drove home, I was looking through Guthook’s to see if the remaining stretches to NC had any 7 mile segments, but there’s only one. I’m not sure it’s wise for me to even try a 14-17 mile weekend and divide it with an overnight stay. I still haven’t done anything significant to improve my situation other than to try the Advil and brace today.
We passed several people on the trail that asked, “do you smell that?” With their smirk, they were clearly hinting that someone must have pooped on the surface right near the trail. I tried to educate them about one of the plants that grows in Georgia that smells skunk-y, but I couldn’t remember the name to turn these from an adolescent encounter to an educational one.
Biggest lesson to take forward - I attached a portable hand sanitizer that my mother-in-law gave us, wrapped in a silicone monkey holder. When we stopped for lunch, I reminded my son to use it. As soon as a drop hit his hand, I could smell the overpowering perfume in the gel. I need to replace it with an un-scented option as long as we’re in bear territory.