Since I often hike solo, most of my hikes are out-and-back or occasionally loop hikes. When I have a friend along who has a car, sometimes we set up a shuttle hike where we leave one car at the end of a hike and drive around to the beginning and hike back to the second car. Shuttle hikes are a nice way to cover a lot of ground without backtracking, but setting up shuttles often takes forever.
The other night, sitting around the campsite after a fantastic shuttle hike on the Dyke Trail in Gunnison National Forest from Lake Irwin to Horse Ranch Park, I thought of an alternative to the shuttle hike: the Handoff Hike.
For a handoff hike you need two cars and at least two people. You start off separately and drive one car to the beginning of the trail and one car to the end and then you each hike solo from your trailhead to meet somewhere in the middle for a snack, or lunch, or even for the night. Then, and this is the most important step of the hike: you hand off your car keys to the other person and they hand you theirs, then you each keep hiking solo to the other person’s car to finish the hike. No backtracking and no time or gas wasted driving back and forth to set up the shuttle. Of course you’ll need to meet somewhere to re-trade cars and keys, but that’s the perfect opportunity to share a Victory Meal.
One of the things I like most about the Handoff Hike is that you get to hike solo, at your own pace, but then you meet up to share lunch and compare notes. You also have a safety net of having somebody watching out for you in the wilderness. You can also do this with a larger group of people, or even as a multi-day backpacking trip.
I won’t claim to have invented this mode of hiking, but I’ve never heard of it before and I’ve covered a lot of trail miles. Has anybody out there ever done a Handoff Hike?