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  1. #1
    Senior Member Carolina Razorback's Avatar
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    Art Loeb Thru Hike

    Just finished the Art Loeb Trail along with my son and three other friends. You can check out some pics of the Hike on my facebook page. I haven't got all them posted yet but they are coming.

    It was an awesome 2 1/2 days on the trail with some great guys. But I will tell you this, it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life...period. boot camp at ft. bliss texas was a cake walk compared to this. I have hiked and backpacked for some 35 years and have yet to do a tougher trail. It is rated the 2nd hardest hike in the southeast the Black Mtn Crest Trail being number one, which we are planning in the Fall.

    Art Loeb is one of those trails that just seems to "love you long time"!! it begins to hand your butt to you from the very start and continues to do so for the next 30 miles. One of the guys in our crew has hiked a good bit in the Linville Gorge and he said if you can do the "AL" you can definitely handle the the Gorge. He hasn't found a trail there yet that he thought was as tough. The first four miles is pretty much up all the way as you climb to the gap below Cold Mountain.

    Thursday morning we hit the trail at around 8:15 and we hiked about 9 (TRAIL) miles to camp the first night in Ivestor Gap. This by far is a must. Ivestor Gap is breathtakingly beautiful and the sunsets and sunrises are indescribable. Pics are great...but sunrise at IVESTOR should defnitely be on your bucket list. I am not what you might say a physical fitness god but I can hoe the row for a big guy. I will tell you that even people who are in shape have a tough time with this trail. If you are going to do it...bring a "I ain't giving up" attitude with you...you are going to need it. There are some great hang spots around Ivestor. Also you may have been told there are no fires in the Shining Rock Wilderness and that would be good info. However Ivestor is just outside the line so fires are permitted.

    Friday morning we were on the trail by 8 and we were headed to the Butter Gap Shelter 14 or so miles away. Be prepared for a long grueling day. This is some rough country. Once you cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and start toward the Deep Gap Shelter you get an overwhelming feeling of "there is no turning back now". The Art Loeb is clearly marked and blazed and I have seen and heard of many people say that they had a hard time knowing which way to go at times. Here's a tip...if there is an ANT HILL the AL goes over it. If you feel you are lost...Just look for the next highest hill and be assured that your butt is going over it. The AL does not miss a hill between Trailheads. Art Loeb was either insane or just loved high places, (i believe both). Some of the hills and climbs along the trail to me are just pointless cardio with no real payoff. Tennent is worth the climb because the reward is there, some of the climbs are just that, CLIMBS, with no view. If you are a peak bagger then Art Loeb is a must do. The last 2 miles into Butter Gap were some dead tired walking. I wanted to hang that night but it had been raining the last mile or so and it rained all night and I was just too plain tired to fool with it so we just put our Pads and bags on the shelter floor along with all the Black Widow spiders. I had resolved I was too tired to worry about them. If they wanted me they could have me...lol I had to force myself to eat my supper that night I was famished but every bite was forced. there have been few times in my life when food was undesirable but this was the case.
    There is plenty of good water at Ivestor, Deep Gap Shelter and Butter Gap but plan smart.

    Another piece of advice is make certain that your footgear and feet are tip top. Trim your nails for sure and watch out for toe bang. Uphills are bad, but the downhills are just as brutal and long. Make sure you keep your heels locked down because on some of the descents you could just about use a rope.

    Saturday morning we were on the trail again by 8 or so and we were on the last 8 miles out. "AL" just kept on loving on us all the way to finish line. This section of trail from Butter Gap to Davidson river is somewhat boring and it is just my opinion but I feel that the trail is a let down because there really is no river miles included, and there easily could be. It would have been nice for the trail to have turned left at Cat Gap and gave you 3 or 4 miles of River Scenery but the last 3 miles is just UP, DOWN UP DOWN with very little reward. We were at the parking lot by 2 and we shucked our packs and took a swim/bath in the river while we waited on my wife to pick us up. We capped off the trip with a meal at Hawgwild BBQ.

    I would recommend this hike highly but bring your "A" game. Make sure you start at Camp Daniel Boone and hike to Davidson. If you start the other way, You are THE MAN, and probably somewhat certifiable. Bring good company for encouragement (you are going to need it). If you are not concerned about pack weight you will be after this hike. I was under 30lbs with water. It can be done reasonably in 2 1/2 days but 3 or four would make for some shorter mile days. I suggest this trail for Spring and Fall. Winter if you have the proper gear. Summer not so much, heat and snakes would be a definite problem.

    until our trails cross,

    Carolina Razorback
    Last edited by Carolina Razorback; 04-11-2012 at 01:00.
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  2. #2
    Running Feather's Avatar
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    Good on ya! Art was a sadist and he was thorough. He doesn't miss a root or a rock either. Glad you had a good time. Great trail

    Nice report. Will look for the pics.
    "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should do is STOP DIGGING "

  3. #3
    Senior Member Hangin' Burrito's Avatar
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    Yeah...that is a quite a hike, Ken.
    RF & I did from Black Balsam to Daniel Boone (16 miles) in one day a few years ago in June. That was beautiful, BUT tough. Then last April we did the other half, and yes, it was up & down all the way to Davidson. It is a tough but great trail. I'd do it all over again though!
    Thanks for sharing with us!
    HB
    "Is this the best you've got?!!" (Shortoff Mtn., Linville Gorge 2010)

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  4. #4
    Walking Dead's Avatar
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    If you like that area and enjoy the punishment, try the Greasy Cove trail that starts at Investor's Gap and runs over to either 276 or join the MTS train over by Graveyard fields. That's the only trail I've been on where you have to hang on to trees going down becasue it's so **** steep. I wonder about the folks who do it the other way :-O but you do get several miles along the river.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Carolina Razorback's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hangin' Burrito View Post
    Yeah...that is a quite a hike, Ken.
    RF & I did from Black Balsam to Daniel Boone (16 miles) in one day a few years ago in June. That was beautiful, BUT tough. Then last April we did the other half, and yes, it was up & down all the way to Davidson. It is a tough but great trail. I'd do it all over again though!
    Thanks for sharing with us!
    HB
    Yeah I probably would too, even though I vowed during the hike that I wouln't lol I watched your vid a couple times before going as a game film lol
    gonna miss seeing you two at the hang in May.
    The Lord is My Shepherd...Any Questions??

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  6. #6
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    Haha, call me certifiable!

    Congrats Razor!

    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

  7. #7
    hodad's Avatar
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    We took our scout troop from Camp Daniel Boone up Shinning Rock and back on a two day trip about 6 years ago. All the time we were looking for a good helicopter landing site to haul a Dad or two out. We were very proud of some of the first time back packers in our troop for making it. Lots of bears in that area.

  8. #8
    I Learn So Others Can Too FireInMyBones's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed the read. I love the Art Lobe Trail. I'd love to thru hike it again sometime before it gets too hot.The trail is just sadistical enough for me. I also really enjoyed the pictures on your FB.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mutantboy0 View Post
    Doing Art Loeb in a day has been an obsession of mine... One day.

    Now lock me up
    I want to try. That sounds like great fun! I agree about Pilot Mtn. being the worst going S to N.
    Last edited by FireInMyBones; 04-11-2012 at 18:43.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FLRider View Post
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  9. #9
    Running Feather's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutantboy0 View Post
    ....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. :/
    HB and I did the same thing
    "If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should do is STOP DIGGING "

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