San Juan Solstice 50 and a Road Trip

Summer is fun. As a teacher, I get two months of freedom. Even better, my wife Marcelle and I work at the same school so we have the exact same schedule of days off. This makes planning vacations and weekend trips infinitely easier.

I started looking for a summer 50 last December. I wanted to go somewhere out west where we could have a fun vacation around the race. One January training run, Jeff Davis mentioned I should apply for the lottery for San Juan Solstice as he planned on running the race for the second year in a row. I initially considered this race but was scared away by the altitude. But it is pretty easy to say yes to anything during a run.

Not soon after, I registered for the lottery and got in. I quickly began dreaming up a summer road trip out west around the race.

Pre-Race Road Trip

Marcelle and I spent a day in St Louis on the drive out from Nashville visiting a friend and also spending way too much time at the Forest Park Zoo. Then we had a Clark Griswold Vacation moment in Kansas when I got the car stuck in the mud camping. On to Leadville where we camped for two nights exploring the big mountains and visiting a friend.

Next up, Lake City for a week to settle in for the race. Two more nights of camping before trading the domesticity of the tent and car for a luxurious lakeside cabin with Jeff, Lori, and Conrad.

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Leadville mountains.


More big Leadville mountains.


Creek crossing! Hike earlier in the week with Marcelle.

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Hike up Cataract Gulch.

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Pre-race shakeout approach of Handies Peak.

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Camping is hard sometimes. Especially when you’re lazy and don’t use all 4 stakes.

Pre-Race Feelings

My biggest fear of this race was the altitude. The course is above 10,000 feet for a little over 34 miles. I had no idea how my body would react. Would I be able to get food down? Would I be able to keep my heart rate at a steady level? Would I be throwing up? Would I be struck by lightning on the Continental Divide? Would I get lost and die? The last one was a dramatic and outlandish fear but an actual question on the race’s FAQ page.

I had been at altitude (8,500-10,000 feet) for 7 days. 6 of those days I had hiked or ran at easy efforts ranging around an hour. In hindsight, I probably did a little too much. But it’s hard not to when you have quick access to some of the most beautiful mountains in the world.

I was noticeably breathing harder on all the hikes and runs. I felt like I had a pressure in my chest that slowly shrunk each day but never fully went away. I gained confidence on each excursion that I would be okay during the race. Yeah, the altitude would make things more challenging, but I would eventually make it back to the finish.

I felt that Jeff and I had an unspoken agreement to stay together during the race. This was confirmed the night before the race when he posed the question of us staying together. Neither of us was approaching this as a race. It would be stupid to try and race this coming from sea level, and the course is too dang pretty to run with your head down focused on a time rather than marveling at the surrounding beauty.

I had my usual breakfast of a banana, 2 Lara bars, and a couple scoops of nut butter. This pre-race breakfast always left me full. Almost too full. But I always felt the big breakfast left me satiated throughout the race. The full stomach early on led to problems getting food down that essentially lasted the whole race.

We left the Town Park at 5 a.m. and would loop back after 50 miles and 12,856 feet of up and down respectively.

Mile 0-3: Gravel road with steady incline. Runnable.

Feeling good. I like this easy pace.

Actually, my stomach is still really full from breakfast. Hopefully, that goes away.

A guy runs past using poles.

Are those ski poles?

I am confident I made the right decision in not bringing my trekking poles. Having my hands free will make me eat more consistently.

Everybody is getting spaced out pretty well. Shouldn’t be a conga line once we hit the single track.

It’s starting to get a little brighter. Wow, the mountains are so pretty.

Mile 3-9: Single track and multiple creek crossings. Roughly 4,000 feet of climbing.

Geez, I still feel full. This needs to go away so I can start getting some calories in.

Traffic slows upon hitting the single track and starting the multiple crossings over the next mile.

So much for no conga line.

Oosh, that water was cold. Kinda refreshing.

Come on people, let’s cross these creeks a little faster.

Dang, that was really cold.

Holy cow! That one was really cold.

Alright, I think that was all of the crossings. Time to hike a little faster and warm up.

More crossings ahead.

Oh, two more to cross.

Pretty sure that was it. Now the hiking will get steep.

The long climb truly begins.

You know, what’s the difference between hiking and power hiking?

Holy cow, I feel like my heart is gonna beat out of my head.

Still so full but need to eat.

Dang dude, that’s a lot of spandex. Is this UTMB?

I wish I had my poles.

Look at the mountains. They are beautiful. That’s why you’re doing this. Let that distract you.

Screw this. Why do I pick races with obscene amounts of climbing?

Approaching what seems like the crest with another huge peak in front of us.

Me- “Are we going up that?”

Jeff laughs somewhat maniacally, “Yep.”

Me- “What the eff? You’ve gotta be effing kidding me!”

Mile 9-10: Above tree line and running along the ridge.

Oh, thank goodness. Jeff was wrong. We don’t have to go up that mountain.

Whoa, this is pretty. I take back everything I thought earlier. Totally worth it.

I need to eat. My stomach sort of feels better.

I look at my watch.

Whoa, I just went 3 hours without eating. Not good.

I’m gonna stop and take pictures. Perfect excuse to stop moving.




Jeff crushes mountains for breakfast.



Mile 10-16: Single track. Big descent. Fun running.

I feel much better after the bathroom break. I think I can start eating.

Maybe not. This is technical. Gotta focus. I’ll eat later.

Starting to catch and pass a few runners.

Woo hoo!

Oh hey, it’s spandex dude again.

It feels good to pass people.

Just about to the bottom of the descent.

I recognize this from the hike Marcelle and I did on Wednesday. We are getting close to the aid station. And crew!

I’m glad Lori and Conrad are here. I always feel bad when Marcelle is crewing by herself.

Me- “I think I’m gonna change my socks at the aid station. They are still wet from the creek crossings.”

Jeff- “No, we should keep moving. They will get wet later.”

Geez, Jeff. You’re such a drill sergeant.

Mile 16: Williams Aid Station

Marcelle- “Give me your trash.”

I hand over two empty Clif pouches.

Me- “It’s been hard to eat. I’ve only had 200 calories.”

Marcelle- “Ryne, you need to eat. Eat now.”


Rockin’ the Anton outfit. Photo-Marcelle


Conrad cheering for love. Photo-Marcelle

Mile 16-18: Gravel road. Flattish. Runnable.

Always a nice pick me up to see Marcelle. I’m feeling better. Time to start eating.

Hey, that’s Dakota Jones. I wonder who he is crewing for. I’m gonna try to be funny and ask if we are on pace to break his course record.

“Dakota Jones thought I was funny. Or he’s just really nice.”

He was probably already on the Divide and halfway done at this point. How the heck?

Yes! My stomach is feeling better. I’m gonna be able to catch up on calories.

Mile 18-22: Jeep road. 2,000 feet of climbing.

I remember this climb isn’t supposed to be as steep as the first one. Should be able to hike up at a good pace.

Damn. My stomach is hurting again. I can’t get this food down.

Jeff has been aware of my stomach struggles throughout the race and is offering me any of his food to see if it sounds good. Nothing does.

Jeff- “Don’t make me force feed you.”

Okay, I get it. I have to eat.

Slowing down and starting to get passed.

There goes spandex guy motoring on past. Man, it sucks to get passed by people. Especially when they are wearing nothing but spandex.

I’m gonna put my head down and grunt it out.

Where did Jeff go? Geez, I’m moving slow.

I hope he left me for good and runs his own race. He’s looking good today.

Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Eat the gel and keep going.

Conrad called the gels baby food the other day. That was funny.

I feel like a baby.

Geez! Will this climb ever end?

I would wear spandex for the rest of my life if I could just make it to the top of this climb!

Is dropping an option? No! You will finish no matter how long it takes!

I’m gonna have to get my headlamp at mile 40. I probably won’t finish until the 9 pm cutoff.

I really want my freaking poles!

Oh good. There’s the aid station.

Mile 22: Carson Aid Station

Ginger ale sounds really good. (gulp) Oh my gosh. It’s so good!

This aid station volunteer is being so helpful.

Jeff pops out of nowhere.

Jeff- “Ryne, where’s your drop bag?”

Where the hell did he come from? He didn’t leave me. What a friend.

Volunteer hands me a cup of potatoes.

These potatoes are already mashed. Wow, what service!

Salt is the best thing ever.

She is seriously packing me saltine crackers in a ziplock bag. What a goddess.

The world needs more aid station volunteers. There would be no wars.

Mile 22-31: 1,500 feet of climbing to the Continental Divide. Some miles hovering at 13,000 feet and then steadily drops down.

I feel like a new person! I am revived!

Wait, I had these same feelings after the last aid station. Don’t get cocky.

Whoa, those are some big clouds. Hopefully, they stay away.

These views above treeline are so worth it.

Hey! A marmot!

The mountains go on forever. This is awesome.

And there are so many wildflowers.



DCIM100GOPROGOPR0420.Jeff is still feeling good and regularly putting distance between us but always keeps me insight.

I’m trying to keep up Jeff.

Oh cool. I see the lake, which means the cabin is on the other side. Ha. We’ve been pointing at the mountains all week saying we would be up here. And now we are. Funny.

Still moseying along the Divide.

When do we drop down below 13,000? I wanna be able to breathe again.


Just keep hiking. Photo-Jeff

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0442.My head is starting to hurt. Geez, I’m complaining a lot today.

This is kind of peaceful up here. I like it.

We should be getting close to the yurt aid station.

I wonder if it’s like a Dothraki yurt from Game of Thrones?

There’s the yurt. Aw man, the aid station is outside of the yurt. Not as cool.

Who put all this mud here? My feet were finally dry.

Mile 31: Divide Aid Station

Did they just seriously ask if someone wanted sweet or white potatoes? Best aid station ever.

Ginger ale is the nectar of the gods.

Potato chips sound good.

I shove a handful in my mouth.

Wait no, chewing is hard right now.

Mile 31-40: Flattish running and runnable downhills. Double track and jeep roads.

I try to tell Jeff for the third or fourth time to go on and run his own race. But he again ignores me and changes the subject.

Why doesn’t he just go on? He’s gotta be tired of herding me around these mountains.

I never wanna do Hardrock. How do they cover 100 miles of this terrain? Those people are insane.

I definitely want my poles for the last 10 miles. I wish I had them all day.

Alright, you’ve got a steady stream of food in you. Suck it up and pick up the pace.

I try to quicken the pace ever so slightly.

Whoa, body didn’t like that. Got light-headed.

This happened about 5 more times.

Suck it up and be stoic like Jeff.

Well, I need to be safe. Maybe I should tell him I need to walk for a bit. No, man up!

Another lightheaded spell after trying to speed up.

Screw manning up.

Me- “Hey Jeff. I’ve been feeling lightheaded the past hour. I’m gonna sit down at the next aid station and reset. I’m gonna finish but it may take a while. Go on without me when we get there.”

Jeff- “How are you doing on salt? Here, eat half of this Nuun tab. It won’t taste good but it will help.”

I take the Nuun tab expecting the worst.

That’s a little bitter. But also good. My body must really need some salt.

Start to come out of the lightheadedness.

Whoa, feeling better.

Why didn’t I tell him earlier? I should have used common sense. Of course he would have a solution.

This downhill is kind of fun.

Me- “How you feeling?”

Jeff- “My knees are starting to hurt a little.”

I weaseled a complaint out of Jeff. Ha! He is human!

I hear people! There’s Marcelle!

Mile 40- Slumgullion Aid Station

I made it. Only 10 miles left. And I won’t need my headlamp to finish.

Ginger ale and potatoes are the best things ever. Also salt.

Me- “Where are the poles? I definitely want them for the last climb.”

Marcelle hustles to grab my poles for me, while Lori is holding Conrad on her hip and talking to Jeff.

We have the best wives ever for supporting our crazy adventures.


How I felt climbing. Photo-Marcelle


How I felt not climbing. Photo-Marcelle


Poles! They make everything easier. Including standing. Photo-Marcelle

Mile 40-46: 1,500 foot climb and then rolling terrain. Single track and farmland.

This is steep. But I have poles! Everything is better with poles!

Wow, this is really peaceful. These aspen groves are so cool.

It’s so quiet. And calm. This is wonderful.

This kind of reminds me of farms in Tennessee.


Just like farms in Tennessee. Including the 10,000 foot peaks. Photo-Jeff

Trippy, almost done with the race thoughts are stirring.

Me- “Do you ever forget where you are sometimes? You’re just running and aren’t thinking. And then it’s like, “Oh yeah. I’m running in the freaking San Juans! This is awesome!”

Jeff is nice and entertains my dopey thoughts.

Jeff- “Yeah, I guess.”

Me- “Like just then, I was thinking how this reminded me of Tennessee. There are the rolling hills. Open farmland…”

I realize we don’t have aspen groves in Tennessee and am about to point this out so I don’t sound like a complete idiot.

Jeff- “Yeah and don’t forget the aspen groves.”

Set myself up for that one.


These Aspens inspire deep thoughts. Photo-Jeff

 Mile 46: Vickers Aid Station

Feeling good. I smell the barn. Top off water, stash the poles, and let’s go.

Aid station volunteer- “Only three more miles and it’s all downhill!”

Mile 46-50. Downhill and single track.

Wow, crazy to think back on the day. I honestly didn’t think I would finish on the climb up to Carson.

Who put all these mini mud bogs along the trail?

Walking up a tiny hill.

I know I shouldn’t have believed the aid station volunteer. This is not all downhill.

And who chopped down all the trees to perfectly be across the trail?

Slowly reeling people in.

It’s nice to pass people.

Spandex guy! I caught you in the end. Ha ha!


Finally, the downhills. Photo-Jeff

Coming out of the trees with views into town.

I see town, but it looks so far down. Ugh.

This is steep. Dang, this is just a bunch of huge shale.

We have made it to the roads and town! So close!

Jeff is looking back and saying something to me. I see a sign pointing the racers in the right direction.

What is he saying? Oh Jeff, you are about to hit the sign!

Jeff plows into the sign but gracefully catches himself.

That’s too funny, but I don’t have the energy to laugh. I’m glad he’s okay. Must tell Lori about it later.

Another turn and more pavement.

Where is the park? I want to be done! I want to see my wife!

I hear people. We are close!

I did it! We did it!

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I need to work on my finish line face. Photo-Marcelle

Mile 50: Finish Line

I’m laying on the ground trying to fathom the day and how people run 100 miles.

Me- “How do you run 50 more miles?”

Jeff- “You keep running.”

Well, he’s not wrong.



Picked up a lot of parenting skills for the future from this family. Photo-Marcelle


“Conrad, there’s going to come a day when your dad starts taking you into the mountains for crazy adventures. I hope you will be ready.” Photo-Marcelle

Post-Race Road Trip

We had two more nights in Lake City at the cabin. Jeff and I were both feeling relatively okay after the race and wanted to explore one more trail before we parted ways. Of course the trail Jeff picks to run two days later has 1,500 feet of climbing in the first mile and a half. But I brought my poles from the start this time!

Marcelle and I headed to Durango to explore and camp for two days, while Jeff, Lori, and Conrad went to spend the rest of their vacation in Ouray.


All-star ultra wifey. Crushing Animas Mountain in Durango.

After Durango, it was a quick detour to El Malpais National Monument for one night of camping and exploring.


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Sunset from the Sandstone Bluff Overlooks.

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We saw 33 rabbits in 12 hours. Photo-Marcelle


La Ventana Natural Arch. Photo-Marcelle

Then it was off to Albuquerque for 6 nights to visit Marcelle’s best friend Claire. I managed to get in some fun runs in the mountains outside of Albuquerque.

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Top of South Sandia Peak.

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The last stop on the journey home was 1 night in Fayetteville, Arkansas to break up the drive.

All in all, we spent 21 days on the road. We saw so many beautiful and mesmerizing vistas and made many unforgettable memories with friends. Maybe I can convince Marcelle into making the summer road trip an annual thing. If gas prices stay low.

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Running the Art Loeb

The Art Loeb Trail is 30.1 miles in length and totals around 9,000 feet of ascent and descent respectively. Scott, Jobie, Mark, and I would be traversing from north to south, which had a little over 8,000 feet of climbing and 9,000 feet of descent. Strava data with elevation profile and cliff notes of important info including water sources at the bottom of the post. Traveling north to south allowed us to get more of the difficult navigating out of the way first. The first nine miles of trail goes through the Shining Rock Wilderness and are unmarked due to being a wilderness area. We would also have the luxury of running directly back to our campsite at Davidson River.

Start from Davidson

About to head out from Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp. Photo- Jobie Williams

We got a later than ideal start, around 10:30 am, from the Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp. We lingered around camp that morning without a sense of urgency, and the drive from Davidson River Campground took a little over an hour. A discussion broke out on the drive over whether we would need headlamps or not. The days are longer now. And it’s ‘just’ a 50k. We should be fine. Mark was the only wise one to pack his.

smiles at the start

Everything is wonderful 10 steps in. Photo- Daniel Lucas

We said our goodbyes to Billy and Daniel who would be heading back to do some hiking around Black Balsam Knob and Tennent Mountain. Unfortunately, they were nursing some injuries and wouldn’t be joining us for the 30-mile trek.

The first four miles were a steady climb of 1,500 feet along secluded single track. We all settled into a nice hiking pace and came upon a group of backpackers at the base of Cold Mountain before we knew it. The backpacking group of seven was a part of the Outdoor Academy and being led by a single instructor. We pointed out which trail would take them up to Cold Mountain upon their inquiry. It was the job of the six students to navigate, and their instructor seemed slightly disappointed that they asked us for directions. To which they quickly responded that they were just using their resources. One guy in the group could have passed as Scott’s younger twin.


Scott’s ginger twin, second from left. Photo- Jobie

The next five-mile section steadily climbs and follows the ridge through the Shining Rock Wilderness. It was nice having Mark with us who was familiar with the trails, and we navigated the somewhat tricky sections with ease. We were afforded some gorgeous views along the ridge from a few rock ledges.


Look, trees.

After leaving the Shining Rock Wilderness, there is a brief section of trail with views of the mountains on either side. This is a short preview of the serene views to come from atop Tennent Mountain and Black Balsam Knob. The expansive views were quickly replaced by the trees as we started the climb up Tennent Mountain. I was leading the climb up with Mark close behind. There was an unmarked fork of the trail where I stayed left. I kept going and reached Tennent Mountain and then realized Mark, Scott, and Jobie were no longer behind me. Tennent Mountain is a grassy bald, so I could easily see the trail leading up to the mountain. Mark arrived about a minute later, but Scott and Jobie were nowhere in sight. Mark said he had not seen them coming up behind him.

Me- “They should be up soon. Do you think they took a wrong turn?”

Mark- “Um, maybe. But it all leads up here so they should be here eventually.”

We waited for about 15 minutes and thought that Scott and Jobie had gone down to the spring just off the trail. So we made our way down to the spring, refilled our bottles, and still no sign. Mark and I debated if they had kept going or were waiting for us somewhere. We decided to circle back on the trail in hopes that they were behind us and finally ran into them. They had stopped for a Jobie photoshoot and a sandwich break. Reunited and no longer concerned if day hikers had been accosting them over their short shorts, we pressed on for the second half of the run.

Scott running

Nice place for a picture. Photo- Jobie

The first 12 miles included big views and many technical sections that were not entirely runnable. It was hard to get into a rhythm due to these technical sections and stopping to admire the views didn’t help either. The rest of the trail was predominately forested single track that looked relatively harmless on the elevation profile I was carrying in my pocket. There were two 1,000 foot plus descents with a lot of little bumps that I harmlessly described as rollers. The terrain, according to Mark, would also become less technical. All of these factors led us to believe that we would soon settle into a rhythm of challenging yet runnable terrain until we arrived back at Davidson River. The mountains took note of our lax attitude and delivered in kind for the final 18 miles.


Mountain Crusher Mark

Being above 5,000 feet, we enjoyed a brief section of trail through a spruce and fir thicket. We then quickly started big descent number one. The descent was super technical and switch-backed all the way down to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We could see cars driving along the Parkway way down below as we descended, which put into perspective how quickly the trail dropped off the side of the mountain. The trail continued to drop after crossing the Parkway and became thickly littered with leaves for the next few miles. The trail was easy to follow, but the heavy leaf litter caused somewhat precarious footing and prevented us from truly taking advantage of the runnable grade.

We finished the long descent and began the first little “roller” of a climb. Note to self, climbs of 500 feet in half a mile are not rollers.

Water is not frequent along the Art Loeb, but there are a few springs spaced about 8 miles apart throughout the length of the trail. After the half-mile climb, we quickly dropped down to the Deep Gap Shelter and refilled on water at a questionable spring. It was a dirt ridden trickle that I passed on drinking until arriving at a better spring at Butter Gap. We could see the huge climb that awaited as Pilot Mountain jutted up directly in front of us. We dropped down into low gear and began the power hike up. The trail perfectly switch-backed up the mountain and reminded me of all the hard work that goes into creating trails in such steep terrain.

Pilot mountain

Up Pilot Mountain. Photo- Jobie

The peak of Pilot Mountain had beautiful views off both sides. There is a great view of the iconic Looking Glass Rock to the east, while the mountains undulated seemingly forever in their hazy hue to the west. A quick glance at the elevation profile told us we were about to head down big descent number two, which lost almost 2,000 feet of elevation over two miles.

Looking Glass

Looking Glass Rock. Photo- Jobie


View to the west.


“I love the Art Loeb Trail this much!”

The leaf litter wasn’t as bad as before, and we could manage somewhat of a quicker turnover going down. We actually passed another runner and his dog going in the opposite direction taking on the Art Loeb in a single day. Realizing the time of day and the need to keep moving, none of us chatted for long and carried on.

We now had about 13 miles to go upon reaching the bottom of Pilot Mountain. The remaining half marathon was a net downhill with a few climbs thrown in. Everybody seemed to still be in good spirits but had switched into finish mode. Mark was a little less cheerful and was taking extended breaks from his usual permanent smile. Scott was no longer referencing a movie or TV show every mile. And Jobie’s camera remained stashed in his pack. Art Loeb had us right where he wanted us.


Are we there yet?

We passed a lot of backpackers for the next few miles heading up the trail as we were shuffling down. Seeing a backpacker carrying enough stuff to last for a week with a look of disgust and struggle on their face always brightens my mood, admittedly somewhat sadistically, knowing my little vest of food and water is infinitely lighter.

Butter Gap Shelter marked our last reliable source of water and eight miles to go. There was a large pack of Boy Scouts setting up camp for the night as we pulled water from a pipe. We took our time getting enough water to last us for the final push. I can’t recall our conversations but do remember thinking that we seemed a little drunk and delirious. Scott had another movie reference left in him.

Scott- “We are chipping away at this thing like Shawshank.”

The elevation profile indicated a few more of those “rollers” and one biggish climb left. There was nothing rolling about those last eight miles. It was up and down, with the ups being quite steep. After a few miles, I stopped at a trail intersection to wait on Scott and Jobie. Mark said he was gonna keep moving. The long descents were zapping his quads. I had the elevation profile out studying the remaining five miles hoping against common sense that we were closer to finishing than we actually were. Scott and Jobie shuffled in with fatigue fully set in on their faces.

Scott- “What ya thinking? How much more left?”

Me- “I’m trying to figure out if we have started the last big climb or not.”

Jobie- “What do you mean last big climb?”


Last big climb.

We pressed on and soon after Scott hollered that Jobie needed to sit down for a second. I was getting a little worried if we would make it back with enough light and wondering if an epic bonk was stirring for Jobie. I decided to keep going so I could grab some headlamps at camp and meet them back up the trail with some Coke for fuel if they had to death march the final four miles.

I soon passed Mark who was trudging along. The last four miles would have been really fun to bomb on fresh legs. I made it back to camp about an hour later with a little bit of daylight left.  Billy was working on an awesome fire, while Daniel was cooking up a feast. I grabbed some lamps to meet the guys back on the trail hoping they would not be needed.

Luckily, they all marched in minutes apart after I drove the short distance from our campground back to the trailhead. There was little jubilation in finishing. Just utter relief to be done.

Jobie- “That took 10 freaking hours to do a 50k!”

We got back to camp and Billy couldn’t wait to hear stories of the suffer-fest. Jobie (Joe-Bee as Billy pronounces it) had many words, none too glowing, to describe the Art Loeb Trail. Billy listened the whole time with a wide grin on his face.

Sage Billy

Trail sage Billy. Photo- Jobie

Scott campfire

Glad to be back at camp. Photo- Jobie

The rest of the night was filled with some of the best food I have ever had. The beet salad, pan-seared avocado, sweet potato soufflé, wild Alaskan salmon, and steak filet quickly lifted our spirits. Daniel enjoys cooking and really spoiled us.


Breakfast the next day. Photo- Jobie

chef daniel

Chef Daniel. God of camp food. Photo- Jobie

All in all, it was an unforgettable weekend with friends in the mountains. Good conversation, excellent food, and a humbling experience that only the mountains can offer.


Traverse Beta

  • Have a map app that can show you your real-time location. It is very tricky navigating in some spots, especially through Shining Rock Wilderness. I highly recommend the Gaia app.
  • Have plenty of water. Springs and streams are spaced out but those sources can be dried up. Water sources below going south (Davidson River) to north (Daniel Boone Boy Scout Camp).
    • Streams (Starting around mile 6)- There are few streams over the next few miles. Sometimes they are flowing, sometimes they are not.
    • Butter Gap Shelter (Mile 8ish)- Coming out of a pipe to the left. Easy to find. There is a small creek you cross right before Butter Gap. If water is flowing, I would fill up there. It can barely be a trickle from the pipe.
    • Gloucester Gap (Mile 12ish)- Take a right on the dirt road for 250 yards to a piped spring. You are about to make the big climb up Pilot Mountain, go fill up if you are running low.
    • Deep Gap Shelter (Mile 14ish)- On four separate occasions, I have never found a reliable source of water here. I could be completely missing it.
    • Blue Ridge Parkway (Mile 16.5ish)- You cross the Blue Ridge Parkway and could stash some water here.
    • Black Balsam Road (Mile 18ish)- You could also stash some water here. Or go left down the paved road for half a mile towards Ivestor Gap Trail to a piped spring. Water has always been flowing well here even when other sources are dry.
    • Shining Rock Gap (Mile 22ish)- About 100 yards down to the right.
    • Streams (last 3.5 miles)- On the final descent you will pass a few streams on the trail.


Strava- Art Loeb Run

Jobie’s Instagram with more awesome pics.

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