What a summer it has been so far! Woo! Well, I thought having two jobs would be the thing keeping me off of the trail this year, but so far that hasn’t been the case. I live about eight miles from Red Top Mountain State Park, so I usually get home and scoot straight up to Vineyard Mountain for a trail run or a hike. Things haven’t been bad at all this summer, well until the summer solstice, which lead me the the Cohutta Wilderess.
I have a love/hate relationship with the Cohutta. It was my first backpacking trip. It should have been my first and last ever, as I almost died there, but I didn’t and got pretty lucky. If you have never been hiking in the Cohutta, it’s a pretty vast wilderness area where you’re either up on a rugged ridge with no water and views, or down in the valley where you have to hike through a few rivers and many creeks. It’s quite the place! Well, usually when it rains, all the water ends up in the valley, and runs into all of the creeks, and creates more water crossings. If it rains hard enough all of those creeks essentially become rivers. Well four years ago, at Panther Creek Falls, after a night of heavy thunderstorms, I slipped on a rock at the top of the falls and got sucked into the current and almost got thrown a very long way down. Well instead of losing my life that day, I smashed into a giant rock and only lost my glasses! Phew! Lucky me, right? Well, needless to say the Cohutta left a bad taste in my mouth.
Well this year for the summer solstice me and the boys decided to cool down and head back down in the ol’ valleys of the Cohutta. I was a little skeptical, as I have not been there in years and can always think of many other places I would rather be hiking. I went with it and it was a pretty decent trip. I returned with about 100 bug bites, one that lead me to the doctor in which I got a prescribed doxycycline (an antibiotic which most hikers may be familiar with, that is used to treat lime disease). Well little did I know I would wake up the following day with stomach cramps so bad, that had me planted on the floor curled up nearly crying. Then there was the trips to the bathroom. This process went on for about 4 hours every morning for about two weeks, often causing me to be late to work, or in the bathroom at work on and off. All the fun in the world, right? I tried to narrow it down. It couldn’t have been the food that I ate, as I ate nothing out of my normal diet, and especially nothing that would prolong this painful process for two weeks. I canceled out food poisoning after the first week. It dawned on me that I was using the filter that I had froze, in early March of this year while Rooster and I were up partying at Mountain Crossings. Great. I was drinking river water with a busted filter. I should have known better. Well thank science for probitotics! My stomach and energy levels returned to normal within a week of taking probiotics and resting.
After feeling all healed up and ready to start crushing some miles trail running, I decided to hit the trail for a good long run as I had finally had two days off in a row the weekend of the 4th of July! Well within the first few steps of hitting the trail, I slipped, heard a pop and fell to the ground in excruciating pain. I immediately hobbled back to my car ripping my sock and shoe off, only to see my foot started to swell up, like a I had a fucking golf ball planted underneath my skin. Great, sprained ankle! It’s really hard for me to stay off of my feet, so this was a tough blow as I knew I would have to be taking it easy the next few days (going on two weeks now). I wasn’t able to walk the first two days, and on the second day the bruising finally made its appearance. At least by then I was able to walk again with an ankle brace on. Well now it’s been a few weeks and I have been on a few trail runs/hikes and am gearing up for a three day hike coming up this weekend! I finally can’t wait to get back out there and eat some miles. While my ankle is still not fully healed I am confident I can hike a good bit and experience no pain.
The Cohutta and summer time always win. I can’t wait for some cooler weather already!
Sunday morning swimming hole, Cohutta Wilderness.
Tarp camping, without a bug bivy. I am an idiot.
Blue sky view from down in the valley – Cohutta Wilderness.
Day one of ankle bruising.