We woke up at 5 am with time for coffee and started from Cosby at 5:30 am in the dark. We hiked the 5 miles up Mt. Cammerer at an ~19 minute per mile pace while occasional rain showers kept us from overheating. The 5 miles downhill allowed me to recover for the next climb, 6 miles to the top of Mt. Sterling on the Baxter Creek trail.
Selfie at the bottom of Baxter Creek Trail
As we continued up the mountain, the temperature dropped significantly and the air became very breezy, like fall. We climbed through tunnels of rhododendrons and our footsteps trampled carpets of fallen white and pink rhododendron blooms. We scurried past rotting timber that was creaking in the wind; we stared in awe at virgin timber towering above us.
Daniel quoted lines from The Chronicles of Narnia as the woods looked like a scene from a fairy tale. The air was misty and the forest covered in green except for the brown ribbon of trail snaking through it. Since we couldn't see the scenic vistas due to the rainy weather, I plan on returning to this trail again on a sunnier day.
Dark, misty fantasy forest land
Snail drinking water out of a mushroom
During the descent of Mt. Sterling I snacked on salty popcorn chips to satisfy my salt craving. Also after last month's AT run, I added thermotabs to my nutrition regimen and they seem to have a beneficial effect in reducing salt cravings.
My Morton's neuroma has been better lately, but climbing Mt. Sterling caused it to start talking again. The descent started painfully, but after a couple of miles, the pain had mostly subsided again. Another example of the ultrarunning rule of thumb "If it starts hurting, wait a few miles and the pain will probably go away".
We started descending Long Bunk and Little Cataloochie trails. Neither one of us felt fond of these trails as they were muddy and covered in briars. The terrain was marred by horse traffic - which does quite a bit of damage to trails in comparison to running shoes and bicycle tires.
Around mile 23, Daniel accidentally stubs his little toe on a stick or stump and experiences some severe pain. He removes his shoe and sock, and it looks like the toe is broken as it is very displaced. He hobbles around and it's obvious that he needs to stop running and go back to the campground. We debate if an ER visit is required. We decide to head to the closest FS road because the mileage back to Cosby is around 15-plus. We debate if I should run the distance back to camp and get my car to pick him up. We decide to stick together. We hike about 2 miles slowly, and fortunately Daniel can lean on his hiking poles. A truck approaches, and it looks like a National Park Service sticker on the side. The driver stops, and it's a maintenance crew, but they allow us to hop in the back for what turns out to be a very long (15 mile ride) on FS roads to the park boundary where the NPS Ranger arrives to pick us up and take us a long 28 miles on I-40 back to the Cosby area, drops us off with another ranger who takes us the remaining 8 miles. All events in the sequence are due to amazingly good luck. We could have never seen a soul; we might have been out there until nightfall.
Back at camp, we packed up our tent and drove back to Chattanooga that evening. Decided ER visit wasn't necessary; he was in pain, but they wouldn't have done much for him aside from pain mitigation, and he made an appointment with a friend who is a podiatrist first thing Monday morning.
Daniel's broken toe via x-ray
The x-ray revealed the fifth toe phalange right above the metatarsal head is broken. Doctor adjusted toe due to joint dislocation and put toe in a splint.
TBD if he can run Fat Dog 120 in exactly one month and one day. **Update: Likelihood is high he will be able to run in 1 to 2 weeks. :)
At mile 23 we both felt good; I was on target to complete 40 miles in fairly good spirits. I changed my nutrition strategy for this run anticipating 12 hours of activity by ingesting calories early and often.
When we got home I weighed our vests - each were at 7 lbs, which is a lot of weight to carry, but this run was fully self-supported so we had to carry all nutrition for the day, but were able to refill water in streams and used Sawyer filters installed in-line.
My Strava activity for this run
Distance 23.4 miles
Total ascent 7,100 feet
Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest with Camelbak bladder & Amphipod bottle
Altra Lone Peak 2.0
Swiftwick Vibe One socks
Generation UCAN plain
GU Lemon Lime
GoPro Hero 3 with GoPole mount
Sea Salt Popcorn Indiana chips
Kind Bar Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt
Sawyer mini filter installed inline on Camelbak bladder
Hammer Heed drink mix
Leki hiking poles
Suunto Ambit3 watch