The Appalachian Mountain Club provide some services in the White Mountains, including a hiker shuttle, that can make life easier if you’ve doing serious hiking, backpacking, or climbing in the area.
One of the biggest challenges of going solo is getting back to your car after your hike. But arranging for shuttles with rural taxi services and dawn pickups on the day of your hike is expensive and anxiety producing. The AMC runs a hiker shuttle between locations which is reasonably priced compared to a cross country taxi ride, although far less colorful, I’m sure.
For example, I’m planning a series of section hikes on the Appalachian Trail through the Presidentials and Pemigewasset Wilderness. Designing loop hikes to get back to my car will not be an option if I go solo, given the terrain. I’m not inclined to do all of my miles with other people (in order to make a shuttle) because I need to climb a lot of peaks on some days, which will require 12+ hours of hiking and early morning starts. It’s hard for me to find hiking partners who like to hike like this and who are low maintenance companions, if you know what I mean.
Let me illustrate: I want to hike 13.2 miles from Galehead Mountain to Liberty Springs in one day. This is a ridge hike that traverses Mt Garfield (4,500 ft) , Mt. Lafayette (5,260 ft), Mt. Lincoln (5,089 ft), Little Haystack (4,780 ft), and Mt. Liberty (4,459 ft) before descending very steeply to the Liberty Springs trail head in Franconia Notch.
I’m thinking of driving up the day before, parking at the Liberty Spring trail head and catching the AMC hiker shuttle at 1:50 PM. The AMC shuttle would deliver me to the Galehead Mountain trail head by 2:20 PM. From there, I’d climb 5.1 miles to summit Galehead Mountain (4,024) and then descend and either spend the night at the Galehead Hut or stealth camp. If I break camp by 6AM the next day, I should have about 13-14 hours of daylight to finish the traverse and descend to my car. If the weather gets bad, I can descend Lafayette or Lincoln down to a bike path that runs through Franconia Notch and takes me back to my car, as well.
This is an ambitious plan, but I’ve done comparably difficult solo hikes and much higher one day mileage. The most important factors will be the weather, and carrying extra water, since there doesn’t look to be much along the way. But what makes this doable as a solo, is the AMC Hiker Shuttle.
The Hiker Shuttle operates daily June 4 through September 14, and weekends and holidays September 20 through October 19. A flat fare of $16 for AMC members and $18 for nonmembers is charged for a ride of any length on the shuttle. Shuttle reservations (603-466-2727) are recommended.
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