Day 6

A day where I got some surprise miles in, caught up to myself, and hatched a plan to be able to continue.

So there are 6 Canadians staying in other cabins here who have hired a professional driver to help them slack-pack the whole way. Surely not. But then the cost divided by 6 maybe isn’t so crazy. Anyway, talking about these guys last night gave me the idea to slack pack myself the missing 14.5 miles so I would officially be where I already was. If that makes sense.

I found a taxi driver willing to schlep me back out to the place I got off and had a small loaded pack of essentials only plus a headlamp if I was still out after dark.

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And it went great. No arm or hand problems. It started out a tad below freezing but worked its way up to 57f (13.5c) and was bright and clear with not too much cold wind. I had a most enjoyable day and, sans weight, zipped over the 14.5 miles in under 6 hours.

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The midday water source. Really.

The main highlight of the stretch is 4416 foot Blood Mountain, so named for a bloody battle between two Native American tribes.

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Ok, from now on just assume I get views like this every hour or two. Then I only have to post occasional pictures of trees and valleys and the like.

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Slaughter Creek on Blood Mountain. Stuff went down I’m thinking.

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ah, so it did.

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This is why you must not always look down at your feet – a tree limb just 5 feet high ready to knock you out.

When I got back to Mountain Crossing I was feeling very positive that maybe the problem had worked itself out and I could continue. I remembered that the outfitter had a couple of packs that had seemed less inflammatory when I tried them on previously so I went back in and asked to retry them.

Jason, who had helped me before, was not at work today so Yak helped me instead. We found that the S-strap shape for the shoulder strap (used mainly by women because it flares out quickly to avoid the boob) caused a flare-up right away. My pack has straight straps so we tried a J-strap pack instead. This curves IN so it actually travels over the, er, pec. No problems at all. I wore it loaded to 25lb for 15 minutes (after a day’s hiking too) and nothing.

Great! But why? Yak suggested the other straps passing close to the armpit were cutting off blood supply to my arm. Suddenly it seemed obvious. I might have had nerve impingement – my thumb and forefinger still tingle – but the other symptoms always seemed like an extreme case of ‘dead arm’ and this idea explained it.

Yak kindly folded over my left strap in half and taped it there. I went back to my cabin and loaded it up. No good. Better maybe, as it took 10-15 minutes to get worked up but worked up it got.

I resolved to buy the new pack in the morning and push on to see what happens. If it fails again I will get off trail right away and give up – no fourth chances.

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