This past weekend, I took a trip to Pisgah National Forest with my friend Christie. Over the course of 2 days, we backpacked 22 miles of the Art Loeb Trail. It was my first camping experience // my first time backpacking. Talk about an intense first time camping experience. The trail was even more challenging than I originally anticipated, both physically and mentally.
We left Charleston early Friday morning in order to reach Brevard, North Carolina - where Pisgah is located. After checking in at the ranger's station, Lauren, one of Christie's friends who lives in Brevard, drove us to Black Balsam Knob - the starting point of our weekend adventure. We left Christie's car parked at the ranger's station so we could hike back to it over the course of the weekend.
After starting the trail going north instead of south, and having to backtrack a mile, we were able to navigate our way to the correct start of our journey. We ended up getting on Art Loeb around 4:30 PM so we didn't have a ton of daylight left by the time we started. Still, we managed to cover 6-7 miles before making it to Deep Gap - our planned stop for the night. It was pitch black by the time we reached our campsite for the evening. And we hiked the last hour in the dark. It was so foggy, we couldn't wear our headlamps on our heads but had to carry them and hold them out in front of our bodies as if they were typical flashlights.
After setting up the tent, we boiled water and enjoy some vegetarian chili. We turned in pretty early that night. Around 2:00 AM, the rain started and stayed steady until around 7:00 AM when we woke up. We gathered our stuff and threw it in the shelter so we could rearrange our packs, eat breakfast, and filter some water to fill up our Platypus pouches before hitting the trail.
We left Deep Gap around 8:00 AM and hiked for 4 hours before reaching Butter Gap - our planned stop to take a break and have lunch. The trails were covered in leaves which made it pretty difficult to navigate. I slipped quite a few times and couldn't always tell if I was about to step on a rock or a tree root. Anyway, at Butter Gap, we sat in the shelter and boiled water to make some macaroni and cheese. We both got to give our legs and feet a rest.
After lunch, we hit the trail again. At that point, we had around 7-8 miles left of the trail. We originally planned on camping 2 nights but figured we could finish the rest of the trail on Saturday and then stay in a hotel or hostel in Asheville that night. So we pushed on at a pretty fast pace. My body was definitely feeling some kind of way. Even though I was feeling physically challenged, I realized how much of a mental challenge backpacking is, too. There were times where I was going up the side of a mountain or steep hill and began talking to myself out loud, coaching myself to get to the top.
When we finally reached the end of the trail, we had to walk almost a mile to get back to the ranger's station. Seeing Christie's car was one of the most glorious moments of the trip. We did it. I did it.
Overall, it was an amazing trip and experience. I'm already looking forward to my next camping // backpacking adventure.
I decided at the last minute to not taking my DSLR camera with me (it was heavy and also wouldn't fit in my pack). Instead, I snapped a few photographs on my phone.