Day 20 – I Found The Smoke in The Smokies

It’s coming from my right knee. What should have been a relatively easy 12 mile day turned out to be a wince-inducing, no good, very bad day.  Allow me to explain.

The day started fine. I woke up around 7:30AM from a very restful night. I probably slept close to 11 hours. It was a little chilly so I lingered in bed for a few more minutes, as one does. Breakfast was pop tarts and beef sticks. These high fructose laden meals are either going to get old quick or be a problem when I get back to real life.

I started the day bundled up but I shed the layers quickly as the miles stacked up. The first 6 miles we’re a breeze. I took a brief lunch break at one the nicer shelters I’ve been to. The Spence Field Shelter even has a privy with a door on it! I made sure I took advantage of the opportunity to utilize it.

Shortly after departure back to the trail my right knee started giving me sharp pains every time it struck the ground. This continued for the next 6 miles. Passed Rocky Top. Passed Thunderhead Mountain. It was worse on the downhill, better on the flats, and oddly enough pretty tolerable going uphill.

Paging Dr Witteman

I immediately go into differential diagnosis mode. Is it patellar tendonitis? IT band? Is it patellofemoral syndrome? I’m too old for it to be Osgood Schlatter… What if it’s a tibeal plateau fracture? I’m anxious and worried this is something serious. I try to talk myself down and say give it a nights rest. Give it 2? It’s ok to take a zero.

But this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had something crop up that went away the next day. I make it into camp (I don’t know if I’ve been more happy) wanting to collapse in a heap. But alas, there are chores to be done. I go fetch more water and also cold soak my feet. 2 days in a row in the Chacos. Could this be why my knee hurts?

I decide I’m too lazy to deal with putting up my tent again. Im staying in the shelter. What’s the name of the shelter? Derricks Knob Shelter. I would be remiss to not stay here with a name like that. No of knobs of Derrick or Derek were paid any attention at this Shelter.

I eat like I’m broken. Do I look as terrible as I feel right now? I take another muscle relaxer (1/4 of a tablet does the trick because I’m a light weight) and wait for sweep slumber to wash over me.

Stow away in my pack for Day 21 on the Appalachian Trail.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 5

  • Richard Bush : May 5th

    In order to interest me…, a nature trek needs be somewhere west of Mississippi River.

    • thetentman : May 6th

      In order to interest me, a comment has to be relevant, coherent, and not a waste of time.

  • thetentman : May 6th

    Good luck Doc. I am guessing it is the shoes.

    • CB : May 8th

      ‘Derrick’s Knob Shelter’ It would take a whole screen of ‘bahahahs’ to fully express how funny that struck me!
      Oh, and since I’m here, I gotta say, Richard Bush you’re a douche.

      • thetentman : May 11th

        Agreed. On all counts.


What Do You Think?