Winter hikes in the mountains intimidate us. Not so much the hiking itself — who doesn’t love tromping through a forest carpeted with snow? Rather, it’s simply getting to the trailhead. The prospect of icy mountain roads, of road closures, of other drivers who don’t know how to drive on icy roads. Why run the risk?
It wasn’t so much the five hours of rain they endured, nor the nearly 3,000 foot of vertical climbing in three miles to start the day (there would be 17,000 total feet of up-and-down during their 11 hour and 10 minute ordeal). It wasn’t getting lost at Butler Gap, nor the “quad-shredding” descent down Pilot Mountain. Rather, it was the need for a good sugar fix after running 27 miles straight on the Art Loeb Trail, which runs 31 miles through the rugged Pisgah National Forest (including the Shining Rock Wilderness) in western North Carolina.