How far is too far to drive?

How far is too far to drive?

Joined: January 20th, 2004, 5:18 am

April 27th, 2004, 1:57 am #1

To drive or to fly ... that is the question.

I just finished a four day, four state southern HPing trip (TN, NC, SC and GA)and after 2200 miles worth of driving for a couple of days worth of hiking, I've reached the conclusion that I've just about reached my tolenance level for time spent in a car. Not a complaint at all ... I had a great time and couldn't have asked for better weather. Also, I was very interested to read of James Wedekind's and Brian Kurz's 14 state, 5750 mile oddysey in the latest Apex to Zenith. However, from here on out, I'm thinking that it is just way more time efficient to fly the friendly skies and rent a car for the types of four or five state swings that I seem to enjoy. Overall, when you factor in rising gas prices and wear and tear on the personally owned vehicle, I don't even think you save that much money by driving on long distance trips.

I realize everyone has a different perspective on this game ... some take long trips and others pick off one state at a time as opportunities arise. Just looking for your viewpoints.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:10 pm

April 27th, 2004, 2:28 am #2

I do what you do... fly in somewhere for a quick 4-5 day swing, rack up 2K miles, hope the rental car people are cool. Years ago I exhausted all the state HPs that I could drive to (my furthest was Oregon from Phoenix; I did drive up to Seattle for my first (failed) attempt at Rainier). Anything that's more than two full days of driving is open for airline travel. Sometimes the deals are way too good to pass up.

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Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 8:13 pm

April 27th, 2004, 2:57 am #3

To drive or to fly ... that is the question.

I just finished a four day, four state southern HPing trip (TN, NC, SC and GA)and after 2200 miles worth of driving for a couple of days worth of hiking, I've reached the conclusion that I've just about reached my tolenance level for time spent in a car. Not a complaint at all ... I had a great time and couldn't have asked for better weather. Also, I was very interested to read of James Wedekind's and Brian Kurz's 14 state, 5750 mile oddysey in the latest Apex to Zenith. However, from here on out, I'm thinking that it is just way more time efficient to fly the friendly skies and rent a car for the types of four or five state swings that I seem to enjoy. Overall, when you factor in rising gas prices and wear and tear on the personally owned vehicle, I don't even think you save that much money by driving on long distance trips.

I realize everyone has a different perspective on this game ... some take long trips and others pick off one state at a time as opportunities arise. Just looking for your viewpoints.
Our general rule has been more keyed to travel time, not distance.

From St. Louis (our home base), we've done several 3,000-mile-plus loops (through the South, the upper Midwest and the "northwestern" Midwest, among others), but have drawn the line when there would have been a couple of days of driving on each end of the trip, for instance, New England or our CO/NM/OK trip of last summer.

We probably put 12k-15k miles on Marcia's Saab over our various HP trips over the years. That said, we're like you and are pretty much out of the (reasonably) driveable highpoints. This summer, Nathan and I will fly to Salt Lake City to bag UT/ID.

Nonetheless, I've thought about a "grand tour of the West" once I retire, to finish off my lower 48. That wouldn't be a mere one-week oddessy, more like a month or more.

A lot depends on your starting point. From the midwest, you can put together a number of reasonable cluster of highpoints that make for an interesting family vacation (we seldom do just highpoints) and make the extra travel more worthwhile. Check out various trip reports under "highpointing" on my WWW page.


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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:07 pm

April 27th, 2004, 4:16 pm #4

To drive or to fly ... that is the question.

I just finished a four day, four state southern HPing trip (TN, NC, SC and GA)and after 2200 miles worth of driving for a couple of days worth of hiking, I've reached the conclusion that I've just about reached my tolenance level for time spent in a car. Not a complaint at all ... I had a great time and couldn't have asked for better weather. Also, I was very interested to read of James Wedekind's and Brian Kurz's 14 state, 5750 mile oddysey in the latest Apex to Zenith. However, from here on out, I'm thinking that it is just way more time efficient to fly the friendly skies and rent a car for the types of four or five state swings that I seem to enjoy. Overall, when you factor in rising gas prices and wear and tear on the personally owned vehicle, I don't even think you save that much money by driving on long distance trips.

I realize everyone has a different perspective on this game ... some take long trips and others pick off one state at a time as opportunities arise. Just looking for your viewpoints.
...i would think like you and just fly. But when you factor in things like wanting to backpack and not being able to check fuel, often having my cello in tow, being able to combine visits to family/friends/other by driving the long distance... i end up driving more often than i would otherwise.

Hey Alan, wanna team up cars and do the one-way from Johnson Shut-ins to Taum Sauk in the next few weeks? I'm moving over the summer, and want to finally do this hike while i'm still here, and before it gets too hot.
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Joined: January 26th, 2004, 5:02 pm

May 3rd, 2004, 10:41 pm #5

To drive or to fly ... that is the question.

I just finished a four day, four state southern HPing trip (TN, NC, SC and GA)and after 2200 miles worth of driving for a couple of days worth of hiking, I've reached the conclusion that I've just about reached my tolenance level for time spent in a car. Not a complaint at all ... I had a great time and couldn't have asked for better weather. Also, I was very interested to read of James Wedekind's and Brian Kurz's 14 state, 5750 mile oddysey in the latest Apex to Zenith. However, from here on out, I'm thinking that it is just way more time efficient to fly the friendly skies and rent a car for the types of four or five state swings that I seem to enjoy. Overall, when you factor in rising gas prices and wear and tear on the personally owned vehicle, I don't even think you save that much money by driving on long distance trips.

I realize everyone has a different perspective on this game ... some take long trips and others pick off one state at a time as opportunities arise. Just looking for your viewpoints.
If you are just racing from one HP to another, the drive time can be a problem. I work towards finding interesting points of interest between the HPs so as to break the drive. I've thought about writing a book to be titled "Between the Highpoints"

The other thing I try to do is break the driving between days. So if it is 500 miles between HP A and HP B, then I spend the night somewhere about 1/2 way between them.

I went on a 1 month road trip in 2001, doing 9 HPs and 7000 miles. It was the trip of a lifetime. Had I been flying I would have been grounded for several days since we left on Aug 16. Aside from that, we did lots of other great backpacking, hiking, sight-seeing activities too. HPing was just one of several goals. It never seemed like too much driving. But we kept the mileage down to less than 500 miles/day almost every day. The other trick was to not have a rigid schedule. The one time we drove 700+ miles was because we had to meet someone the following day. We also avoided, whenever possible, driving at night.

I have done a few HPs by flying, but the logistics are difficult and getting more so all the time. Included are the prohibitions about stoves/fuel, etc.

I prefer to drive my own car. I don't like automatics, I don't like cheap, poor handling tires, etc.




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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 6:42 pm

May 4th, 2004, 12:39 am #6

To drive or to fly ... that is the question.

I just finished a four day, four state southern HPing trip (TN, NC, SC and GA)and after 2200 miles worth of driving for a couple of days worth of hiking, I've reached the conclusion that I've just about reached my tolenance level for time spent in a car. Not a complaint at all ... I had a great time and couldn't have asked for better weather. Also, I was very interested to read of James Wedekind's and Brian Kurz's 14 state, 5750 mile oddysey in the latest Apex to Zenith. However, from here on out, I'm thinking that it is just way more time efficient to fly the friendly skies and rent a car for the types of four or five state swings that I seem to enjoy. Overall, when you factor in rising gas prices and wear and tear on the personally owned vehicle, I don't even think you save that much money by driving on long distance trips.

I realize everyone has a different perspective on this game ... some take long trips and others pick off one state at a time as opportunities arise. Just looking for your viewpoints.
I have flown to 40 of my 41 state highpoints. The lone exception was the long drive to Granite Peak (two and a half days driving each way). Flying to a hub and attempting multiple highpoints makes much better use of my vacation time than driving from home.

I imagine, though, that if I lived in New England or in the midwest, I might be inclined to drive to some nearby highpoints over a weekend to save on my vacation time.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 5:18 am

May 4th, 2004, 1:03 am #7

If you are just racing from one HP to another, the drive time can be a problem. I work towards finding interesting points of interest between the HPs so as to break the drive. I've thought about writing a book to be titled "Between the Highpoints"

The other thing I try to do is break the driving between days. So if it is 500 miles between HP A and HP B, then I spend the night somewhere about 1/2 way between them.

I went on a 1 month road trip in 2001, doing 9 HPs and 7000 miles. It was the trip of a lifetime. Had I been flying I would have been grounded for several days since we left on Aug 16. Aside from that, we did lots of other great backpacking, hiking, sight-seeing activities too. HPing was just one of several goals. It never seemed like too much driving. But we kept the mileage down to less than 500 miles/day almost every day. The other trick was to not have a rigid schedule. The one time we drove 700+ miles was because we had to meet someone the following day. We also avoided, whenever possible, driving at night.

I have done a few HPs by flying, but the logistics are difficult and getting more so all the time. Included are the prohibitions about stoves/fuel, etc.

I prefer to drive my own car. I don't like automatics, I don't like cheap, poor handling tires, etc.



For me, it's not so much a matter of racing from one highpoint to another, but getting in as much as possible during limited vacation time. I've been up and down I-81, I-90 and I-95 at this point in my life that I actually have favorite exits. Driving these roads does nothing for me. But once, I get into the "cluster" area where I plan on highpointing, I thoroughly enjoy the driving in the new scenery amongst the back roads and also enjoy spending at least a few hours climbing or biking whatever highpoint. I suppose if I had 10 days to dedicate to a trip, a day's worth of travel on each end wouldn't seem like too big of a deal. But when you have three to five days maximum (which is the reality of my life at this particular moment), then I would really prefer to spend as little of it on car travel as possible. Flying is just starting to seem like a better way to go even if it does mean giving up my mountain bike. Thanks for the great responses so far.
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 12:16 am

May 4th, 2004, 4:29 am #8

I have flown to 40 of my 41 state highpoints. The lone exception was the long drive to Granite Peak (two and a half days driving each way). Flying to a hub and attempting multiple highpoints makes much better use of my vacation time than driving from home.

I imagine, though, that if I lived in New England or in the midwest, I might be inclined to drive to some nearby highpoints over a weekend to save on my vacation time.
First, as already mentioned, if your time is limited, then you would be better off not spending so much time on the road.

Then there is the issue of the rising gas prices. I am debating either flying or driving to the New Mexico/Colorado area from the Dallas/Ft Worth area in July. I was thinking of driving since there is an entire week of vacation in that month, however the gas prices are going to cause me to run out of money before the first mountain range even appears. So, it is looking like a flight to Albuquerque or Colorado Springs is in order. It would probably be cheaper to get a plane ticket and fly as close to the intended destination as possible. This rings true especially if it goes over 2$ a gallon, which seems to be where we are heading (at the very least). Looks like it will be a more expensive summer than I thought. Taking the plane will save both time and money.
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Joined: January 21st, 2004, 6:08 am

May 4th, 2004, 1:30 pm #9

To drive or to fly ... that is the question.

I just finished a four day, four state southern HPing trip (TN, NC, SC and GA)and after 2200 miles worth of driving for a couple of days worth of hiking, I've reached the conclusion that I've just about reached my tolenance level for time spent in a car. Not a complaint at all ... I had a great time and couldn't have asked for better weather. Also, I was very interested to read of James Wedekind's and Brian Kurz's 14 state, 5750 mile oddysey in the latest Apex to Zenith. However, from here on out, I'm thinking that it is just way more time efficient to fly the friendly skies and rent a car for the types of four or five state swings that I seem to enjoy. Overall, when you factor in rising gas prices and wear and tear on the personally owned vehicle, I don't even think you save that much money by driving on long distance trips.

I realize everyone has a different perspective on this game ... some take long trips and others pick off one state at a time as opportunities arise. Just looking for your viewpoints.
Tucked away up here in the northeast, my tolerance level for long drives seems to have expanded as I consider more groupings of HPs to bag.

One thing that helped is that I seem to have converted a friend into our strange little hobby. We took turns driving on a 36-hour RT to OH & IN. More recently, we flew into Atlanta and bagged GA-SC-NC-TN-VA-KY (the first 5 in a day!). Now we're eyeing MO-AR-LA-MS-AL-FL or IL-IA-MN-MI. When you can switch off driving duties, it helps greatly.

Secondly, it helps to have a comfortable vehicle. My wife and I just got a m...mini....(I can't bring myself to say it)...minivan. I must admit, though, I'm convinced that pulling out both rows of seats would allow one driver to sleep while another drove to HPs. Hmmmm.....

Then again, another little HPer on the way soon means quick-hit, cheap HP trips this summer. How much was that airfare again? And the gas prices?
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:11 pm

May 4th, 2004, 4:17 pm #10

To drive or to fly ... that is the question.

I just finished a four day, four state southern HPing trip (TN, NC, SC and GA)and after 2200 miles worth of driving for a couple of days worth of hiking, I've reached the conclusion that I've just about reached my tolenance level for time spent in a car. Not a complaint at all ... I had a great time and couldn't have asked for better weather. Also, I was very interested to read of James Wedekind's and Brian Kurz's 14 state, 5750 mile oddysey in the latest Apex to Zenith. However, from here on out, I'm thinking that it is just way more time efficient to fly the friendly skies and rent a car for the types of four or five state swings that I seem to enjoy. Overall, when you factor in rising gas prices and wear and tear on the personally owned vehicle, I don't even think you save that much money by driving on long distance trips.

I realize everyone has a different perspective on this game ... some take long trips and others pick off one state at a time as opportunities arise. Just looking for your viewpoints.
Let's face it. Every HP trip we take is a balance and compromise of HPs, time, money, endurance and convenience. Living in CA, ALL the state HPs are at least six hours away, either flying (when you include airport time) or driving. I have done both. On my driving trips I take my Suburban, which doesn't get the greatest gas mileage, but even a big tank of gas at $2 per gallon costs about the same as one night in a motel, and I can just pull over and sleep in the back whenever I want to. For the OK convention, I alternated car sleeping and motels. I carry my food and gear right with me, so I can get ready to go at night at the trailhead and bug out early for a climb. And driving across the wide open spaces of New Mexico, Oklahoma and Kansas allows you to reflect on the huge size of this country; to enjoy the beauty of such places as Mount Taylor, north of Grants, NM; and to contemplate the courage of the people who lived on this land, either as native populations or as settlers. And coming across tiny towns, forgotten memorials in the middle of nowhere, and wonderful people at local cafes adds such a new dimension to any trip.

I look forward to retirement and a long "Road Trip" to pick up the southern, southeastern and eastern states. One way or another, we'll all use whatever works to get us to the HPs and our goals. No matter how we do it, what matters most is that we have fun along the way, right? See ya in Washington (I'll be driving the black whale). JES

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