For the traditional shuttle you need two cars; you can’t do a point-to-point solo. If there are just two of you, you both have to drive. That’s not only a waste of gas, it eliminates catch-up time on the drive (not that you won’t be talking on the trail). Setting up a shuttle also eats into valuable hiking time. And what if something happens to the shuttle car or driver? In November, four of us were hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail west of Mount Pisgah. As the trail crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of our party suddenly decided he was through. He flagged a passing car and before we knew it he disappeared down the road — to his/our shuttle car at trails’ end. Now what?
Backpacker Chris David is a fan of the key-swap shuttle. Get a group of people interested in doing a point-to-point. Divide the group into two: One group drives to one end of the route and starts, the other drives to the opposite end. When they cross paths somewhere near the middle, they swap keys.
Several years ago, my friend Alan Nechemias and I decided to use our bikes to set up a shuttle on a trip in Virginia. It worked, but it was winter, which required us to bring heavy clothing for both biking and hiking. We had to camouflage our bikes, and the whole time we were hiking I was sure we hadn’t hidden them well enough. Someone, no doubt, was absconding with our rides. (They weren’t.)
In 2007, Bruce Wisely completed the entire 1,000-mile(ish) Mountains-to-Sea Trail (to date, only 27 people have hiked the statewide trail from end to end). The trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway is especially challenging since there’s precious little camping allowed on the this stretch, most of which is on National Park Service land. Thus, Bruce used a bike shuttle to link him to his car at day’s end.
“I’d be biking on the Parkway at 4:30 in the morning with a little light on my helmet, bombing down some of those hills,” he chuckled, a chuckle made possible by the passage of time. He said a couple of longer tunnels along the parkway were especially interesting.
Yesterday, I headed up to the mountains to hike and map a section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Blowing Rock-Boone area. Initially, I was planning to follow Bruce’s example and use a bike shuttle. Then I consulted the forecast: cold (and some snow) early in the week, rain possible toward the end. My already tepid enthusiasm for mixing mediums cooled further. Then I had what seemed like a brainstorm: I’m training for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail 12M & 50K Challenge, why not just run the shuttle? The MST parallels the parkway along this stretch; it's the perfect shuttle option.
Why not run the shuttle? Well, as my legs are telling me after Day 1 of the shuttle-run approach, running five to 10 miles for four days in a row is challenge enough. Running five to 10 miles after hiking around 20 — not such a smart idea.
So, I find myself exploring yet another shuttle option: pleading.
Anyone wanna hike with me this week on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail near Boone — anyone with a car? Short of that, anyone interested in swapping, say, breakfast for helping me set up a shuttle?
The above post also appears at our sister site, GetGoingNC.com