As the saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. For me that link has traditionally been my knees. Although the ascents have been okay, over the last few days, the descents have become more and more painful. Today I headed off into the Smokies with a fully loaded pack (five+ days of food), sufficient rations to hopefully carry me through their entirety. After a few miles in, my right knee proved unwilling to cooperate. Unwilling to risk more serious or permanent injury, I have made the decision to leave the trail. Thanks to all who have followed “Ivan” and offered their support.