Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run


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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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Start: Winding Stair Gap, NC                                
End:  Wayah Gap, NC
Today's Miles:                        5.9
Cumulative Miles:              112.5
"Use your best judgment about when to run and when to take a rest day."
-David Smith, M.D. to Sue

Jim assisting thru-hiker Dave Kelly from Delaware at Winding Stair Gap.  Glad I don't have a big pack like that!!   5-8-05

Well, at least the good doctor didn't say "no running" for the next week!!

I spent the morning at an urgent care clinic in Franklin, NC to get a diagnosis and treatment plan for my sore knee.

We went to the local hospital first because it is a PPO for my insurance company, but their emergency room costs would have been exorbitant when I don't have an "emergency."

Their same-day clinic wasn't open on a Sunday. So we ended up at an affiliated clinic and had to wait an hour until they opened. I sat outside reading Neal Jamison's latest book about adventure running and Jim went nearby to do laundry and run errands. The crew person's duties never end!

Dr. Smith examined my knee and did blood tests to determine if my kidneys were functioning properly. (Everything A-OK, except I need to take less calcium.) I told him how well the Celebrex worked, but he recommended I try Naproxen first. He gave me prescriptions for both after determining I don't have any significant risk factors for heart problems, either.

 The Celebrex was so expensive, even with my good insurance coverage, that I just got the very cheap Naproxen (500 mg. twice/day). Hopefully, I won't need even it for long.

The doctor said he could tell I have arthritis in my knees (I already knew that) and thinks the combination of that, plus the fall I took Tuesday and all the downhill running at a faster pace than I usually run trails (= quad stress) caused the swelling and bruising. He didn't think I tore the quads, although no MRI was done to confirm that.

The swelling was down considerably this morning because I elevated my leg and iced the heck out of it yesterday. I like to think the walking I did yesterday - and self-massage - also helped move stuff around. I sure peed more than usual, releasing whatever fluids I was retaining. (Sorry, TMI? - Too Much Information.)


I asked about the "C" part of RICE treatment for injuries: compression. I've seen a lot of hikers wearing various knee supports, from tiny Cho Pat-type straps below the knee to full knee coverage above and below. Dr. Smith advised that a simple, stretchy support would be best, not one of the fancy $60 ones. I found two Spenco-type knee supports at the pharmacy where I got the prescription filled, and used those today.

The "R" part of RICE is the hardest for me: rest. Fortunately, Dr. Smith said to just use my best judgment each day. If the knee feels good, especially without using any pain killers, go for it. If I have to take mega-doses of Naproxen, Celebrex, or ibuprofen to run each day, I clearly need rest.

Simple enough. This guy's conservative but not overly-restrictive.

Since I hadn't taken any ibuprofen or Celebrex for about 30 hours, I decided to take another walk in the woods this afternoon. But I just did the next 5.9-mile section that was mostly uphill and wouldn't strain the quads so much. I finished it before planned, in 1:48, because I was able to run a couple of the miles on smooth trail. That's just over an 18-minute pace, much better than I managed the last two days only walking.

Gosh, it felt so good to run again, and without any pain! I'm back in the game, and plan a longer day tomorrow. The weather has been great, and I hate to waste a sunny day when I have so many more miles to run.


I started about 3,800 feet at Winding Stair Gap, topped out 4.5 miles later on Siler Bald at 5,342 feet, then dropped down to 4,130 feet at Wayah Gap. The climb and descent were fairly gradual and the trail was mostly runnable (not technical).

I was surprised that I didn't see anyone on the Trail today, considering it was a Sunday. This is a nice section of trail but not one that day or weekend hikers would probably choose for its scenic beauty when there are other more spectacular sections nearby. There were no panoramic vistas today as the last two days.

The only thru-hiker we saw today came up to our truck as I was preparing to start my run at 1:30. He was done for the day and needed a ride into Franklin. Unfortunately, we'd just come from there so he called the motel to come get him eight miles from town. I didn't ask his Trail name, but will probably run into him again soon. He started a day after I did and is making good time. His real name is Dave Kelly and he lives in Delaware.

Jim got to be a "Trail Angel" again today by letting Dave and another person with car trouble use his cell phone at the Gap. We were pleased to have cell reception there and at Wayah Gap. I finished early and was able to let Jim know I was waiting for him. We also have cell reception at our new campsite, so we can get on-line and make phone calls more easily for a few days. Yeah Verizon Wireless!!

The only new flower I saw today was Bellwort, also known as wild oats. They are delicate inch-long yellow bell-shaped flowers that droop singly from a slender stem. My wildflower book  indicates the young shoots can be eaten like asparagus. Native Americans taught early settlers to make an emollient out of the plant to use on wounds.

I also saw thousands of plants coming down from Siler Bald that looked like the columbines I have at home. If that's what they are, they should be spectacular when they bloom soon.


After dropping me off on the way back from town this afternoon, Jim hooked up the camper and left the nice campground at Standing Indian. (We highly recommend it.) It was difficult pulling the camper up the narrow, winding "Mountain Waters Scenic Byway" (Hwy. 1310), but the scenery along that road is gorgeous. I'll get to see it tomorrow when Jim returns me to that gap to start my next segment.

There was room for him to park temporarily at Wayah Gap to pick me up, then we descended through lush green forests and past Nantahala Lake and the Nantahala River Gorge to our new "home" for a few days at Tsali Recreation Area (Jim reminded me to add that "Tsali" is the Cherokee name for "Charley"). This is another beautiful campground in the Nantahala National Forest and is inexpensive. We've had great luck so far with public campgrounds.

Stay tuned,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and  Jim O'Neil