Start: Blue Mountain Shelter
Finish: Unicoi Gap
Miles: 2.4 Total Miles: 52.9
When I woke this morning and got moving, my right knee was just barking. I was concerned that continuing on with the knee as it was would just bring more problems down the trail. So I decided to get off in the next trail town, and spend a day or two resting the knee, and possibly getting a knee brace to give me some more support. Today would be my first nero. A Nero is a near zero day. A zero day is a day with no mileage on the trail.
The descent from Blue Mountain Shelter down to Unicoi Gap was not pleasant. A night of rain had left the trail, again filled with mossy slimy rocks, now covered with a substantial layer of mud, and the trail was quite steep. Between trying to favor a bum knee, and trying to keep from slipping down over a steep precipice, every other step, I managed to overstress the other knee. I definitely need some time off.
I got down to Unicoi Gap, which is relatively close to the trail towns of Helen, GA, and Hiawassee, GA, around 9:30. I found a group of hikers who’d left the shelter before me waiting for a shuttle to take them into town. Everybody, except interestingly enough the Dartmouth coeds, was looking forward to a day in town, and a motel to dry off and clean up. A short time after I got there, a taxi pulled up to drop off a couple of hikers who’d smartly spent the rainy night in town. I asked the driver if he’d take me into Hiawassee and the Holiday Inn Express there and he agreed. Easy fare!
Fortunately, a room was available right away, so I was able to shower and get my clothes washed first thing. I walked down the road to Hardee’s for lunch. I don’t think I’ve been to a Hardee’s in over twenty years. It hit the spot, quite nicely. Obviously, during this thru-hike I’m going to be hitting a bunch of fast food restaurants that I would never have considered before. It seems like my hunger is starting to ramp up. Which is good, since already my clothes are becoming decidedly roomier.
After spending the rest of the day icing both knees and updating my journal, I decided to try another fast food emporium, a Huddle House. I’d never heard of this brand before, but someone described it as a variant on a Waffle House, which does seem accurate. Trying to get my veggies in, I asked for a BLT, plus the only thing on the menu that had actual not-carbs, a salad, on the side. It was a salad with which even the most dedicated non-veggie eating types would have been comfortable. It came with three components, and those components each made up precisely one third of the total salad. There was iceberg lettuce at the bottom, diced tomatoes in the center and shredded cheese at the top. Simplicity itself. I believe that this may be the first time I’ve had a salad in which cheese made up one third of the total volume. I suspect that, since I’ll be hiking in the South a good deal longer, it may not be the last.