Wilderness areas shouldn’t be the private domain of only the most intrepid swashbuckling types who have no compunction about pushing through where the trail disappears, about fording waist-deep streams, about scrambling through rhododendron hells ever-so-deserving of the name. They shouldn’t be their private playground and they needn’t be. Provided you know how to get in the back door.
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.