Haha, call me certifiable!
Art Loeb trail is indeed the hardest trail I have ever hiked, and it quite an accomplishment to do it with no injury and only a few tears :)
I myself just finished it yesterday evening, having started that morning. Yes, I did the entire Art Loeb in one day. Doing Art Loeb in a day has been an obsession of mine ever since Jennifer Farr-Davis set the AT record of 46 days, doing 46 miles per day this summer. She lives here in Asheville and frequents the restaurant I work in so I see her often and it got my brain rolling, so I started planning...
I got dropped off at Davidson River Campground at 5:11am yesterday morning, having left my car at Daniel Boone the day before. Was a little slow-going until the sun came out, but I hit Butter Gap at 8:43, filled up on water, and kept going. Hit the top of pilot mountain at 11:15 and was so very glad to have that behind me as that is, in my opinion, the most difficult part of the South-to-North trail. Rested for 20 minutes at Deep Gap and took off from there at noon.
Was standing on the Blue Ridge Parkway at 1:00, and was standing in front of the Shining Rock Wilderness sign at 2:45. The wind yesterday was INSANE, and being up at Black Balsam in 40-50mph gusts was very difficult as I was literally being blown sideways as I hiked.
By this point some of my muscles were cramping if I moved the wrong way, and my left knee was becoming very very painful with every downstep, so I was getting a little nervous seeing as there were still about 10 miles in front of me. At Ivestor Gap I accidentally got off trail, something I had been worrying about because the trails are not marked up there very well IMO. I followed the signs for Art Loeb to the right and checked my map and felt I was still on AL, but after going around Grassy Cove Top I suddenly found myself facing the East and descending..uh oh. I knew I should never face east or descend on the AL on this leg, so I immediately turned around. I realized I had taken the Grassy Cove Ridge trail somehow and by the time I got back on AL I had wasted 40 minutes and a TON of energy. :/
Blasted my way up through the Narrows, which was amazing, I have never hiked on such a skinny trail :) By the time I got to Cold Mountain trail I was dreaming of bed and a bath and my left knee ached with every step. My pace had dropped from a healthy 2.5-2.75 mph to around 1.5mph, so my time was getting worse and worse. I literally hobbled down the last 5 miles to Daniel Boone, sometimes having to hop on just my right leg because my left couldn't bear the weight. I realize I should not have hiked so **** fast in the first half of the hike, especially tackling all the peaks in the South-to-North direction, but then again, I had to be crazy to try in the first place, right?
Made it to my car at 7:02 for a total day of 13 hours 51 minutes, and between getting off-trail for 40 minutes, stopping at butter gap to filter water and rest for 15, taking 20 minutes at deep gap to rest and dry my feet, as well as all other food/water stops and taking some time in the beginning to get my boots laced just right I figure I had 2 hours stoppage time, making for 11 hours 51 minutes straight hiking time for Art Loeb South-to-North. One day. :)
Now lock me up :)