It was nothing short of grueling for this trio of forty-somethings. However, the funny thing is we can’t wait to do it again! The Art Loeb Trail is a 30+ mile hike that features stunning views from the summits of Tennent Mountain, Black Balsam Knob and Pilot Mountain to name a few. The trail favors hiking the ridges rather than the valleys, and at times it seems like it takes the most difficult route from point A to point B. Regardless, it is a beautiful thru-hike that we all want to experience again. Next time, though, there are a few things we would do differently.
Too Much Stuff
On our first trip we all agree that our packs weighed too much. We brought too much food, managed our water poorly and carried a few unnecessary extras. It is truly amazing the difference that even 5 pounds makes when carrying it over 10 miles of ridgeline trail! We have all shed significant weight from our load. This required investing in some new ultralight gear, and shedding some unnecessary items.
Besides packing efficiently, one important aspect to planning a hike like the Art Loeb Trail is identifying and utilizing available water sources. The three of us got into trouble when we failed to refill at the last available water source for miles. With nightfall imminent we found that we were thirsty, and without enough water to cook supper and breakfast. To our relief, the next day we found a water source a couple miles down the trail. Of course, we filled up, but then made the mistake of carrying too much water for fear of running out again! The added weight took a huge toll, so it is a top priority to know exactly where our refill points are and to carry only what we need.
Planning Is Key
Moral of the story is: good planning is key. We look forward to applying the lessons learned on our first Art Loeb Trail excursion. Hopefully these experiences also provide some insight for any of you who may be considering this challenging yet beautiful hike.