How far is too far?

Vegan.Hiker

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I know most of you routinely put in long hours behind the wheel to get to your hiking destinations. I frequently put in 5-8 hour drives for long weekend trips, but here’s my predicament... next month I have a 7 day slot to backpack and I’m tinkering with the idea of doing a 13 hour drive to Nova Scotia (13 hrs not counting stops). I’m a little afraid that i’ll end up regretting the long drive, especially since i’ll be solo and won’t be able to split the driving with anyone. Also with 1.5 days driving at each end of the trip i’ll only be getting 4 days of backpacking in, which i guess is fine since that’s how long the loop I want to do takes.

So i’m wondering what everyone else’s driving tolerances are. I’ve always felt that 8-9 hours was sort of the end of my threshold. Would you guys spend 14 or so hours in a car each direction for a 4 day trip? Am I being a baby or just sane for having this trepidation?

And I’m only talking about driving here, flying is a whole other story.
 
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Jackson

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If I'd be getting 4 days and 3 nights in, I would probably go for it, especially since Nova Scotia would be unique.

I'd have to add that 12 or 13 hours would probably be my upper limit on driving for a backpacking trip of that length, unless I were doing sightseeing for a few days along the way. I've never been able to test that though since I've been in school and had pretty demanding summer internships/jobs for most of my adult life.

I wouldn't make drives like that regularly though. That would be a once-a-year type of thing for me.
 

slc_dan

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For a three night trip my maximum is about 5-6 hours. I need at least 4 nights if I'm going to drive much further. 14 hours each way? That's pretty rough, it would have to be quite the pay off, and I don't really mind driving.

I'd just think it through. Is 14 hours going to be worth it?
 

Yvonne

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on my weekend trips, I often had 6-8 hours of driving time, but I'm okay with that.
Some trips even had 12-14 hrs. of driving time. It get's a bit boring after a while, but on the way in you have the excitement of the upcoming trip and on the way back the stoke factor. This helped me a lot.
If you can get enough outdoor time out of this trip I would definitely do it. Nova Scotia sounds really amazing.
I would not hesitate to do it at all.
 

regehr

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I'd probably take this tradeoff, but it depends on the drive. If it's like driving up the 95 or 81 on the eastern seaboard then no way in hell. If it's easy driving with low traffic and little deer danger then fine: get a big fat book on CD from the library and make it happen. On the other hand if money isn't too much of a problem, that kind of distance warrants flying and renting a car on the far end (and buying fuel obv).
 

Wanderlust073

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Older I get the fewer hours I can grind out behind the wheel. These days 8 hours is max and usually try to keep it under 6.
 

b.stark

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I have driven 7-8 hours for overnighters before. The longest distance wise I ever drove was roughly 900 miles solo in one day, starting at home and ending up in Cooke City. That one was a bit much for me, but I still do drives of around 750 miles or 13-14 hours solo at least once a year. Usually I do these drives at the end of a trip of 5+ days. I try to break up the drives on my way to hiking spots, but my brain is mush from previous experience driving trucks and farm equipment for long hours, so it doesn't bother me *too* much.

If you haven't lived a life of long times behind the wheel, 7-8 hours tends to be plenty. I personally prefer keeping drives down to that, but again, my brain has already been turned to mush so sometimes those 13-14 hour drives happen anyway.
 

KJR

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I routinely drive from Seattle to Canyonlands / Southern Utah / Southwest Colorado twice a year - 17 hours to Moab, usually going a couple hours further, Also do Yellowstone (12 hours) twice a year. 7 to 9 day trips each or sometimes Yellowstone in 4. I leave Thursday afternoon from work and get in 8 or 9 hours, sleep in my truck in a hotel parking lot for a few hours, get up early and go, can be at some trail around Moab for a leg stretcher in early afternoon. I always hike solo, so driving solo is no big deal, Used to drive all summer long in Alaska so I find it easy. Also - think of it as part of the adventure of the hike. Driving early and late is great to see wildlife, even along interstates, at least out west. I find that by the time I get to the trail, I am relaxed and work is gone, the unwinding is taken care of. 13 hours and I wouldn’t even think twice. Leave straight from work, drive 7 or 8 hours, find a nice hotel / motel parking lot (usually much quieter than a rest area), mix in with all the cars, catch some sleep, get up and go early, be there and hiking by 10:00

Kevin
 

Artemus

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My personal best on 4 wheels is 24 hours stopping only for gas and food on a cross country. My best on 2 wheels is 16 hours - from the middle of Arkansas to Boulder, CO. That was on my first trip to the real mountains to move there. Once I was in view of Pikes Peak from way out in the plains I couldn’t stop until I found a camp in Boulder. I was a bit saddle sore from that ride on a Honda CB750F.

Moral of the story, for me, is it depends on the prize. Now that I live “there” I can only routinely tolerate about 12 hours and have done that 4 times this spring to help an ailing family member in TX.

Do I provide a recount of the drives to Alaska to hike? Twice?
 

Artemus

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If you haven't lived a life of long times behind the wheel, 7-8 hours tends to be plenty. I personally prefer keeping drives down to that, but again, my brain has already been turned to mush so sometimes those 13-14 hour drives happen anyway.

As B. And @KJR say it depends if you are acclimatized to driving over a long career. Mine was a non-professional career of satisfying my geographic curiosity and mountain addiction.

A few stats so you can qualify my long distance tolerance, @Vegan.Hiker:
States visited: all of them (except pesky ND), by driving (except pesky HI)
4 wheel miles (>1,000,000)
2 wheel miles (>100,000)

Remember, I started driving when gas was $.55/gallon and science was not yet aware of the global impact of pollution. I sometimes regret my traveling addiction but try hard to make it up in other ways.
 
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Miya

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I drove 36 hours straight, ah but that was for love, and when I felt like a youngin' LMAO!
Actually, I really love driving. Since I prefer to be alone, I just drive at night, put on great music and sing and dance the whole way. On my weekend day hikes, I am willing to drive 4 hours one way and 4 hours back and usually only hike 3-6 hours, so I definitely think 13 hours is nothing for such a long backpacking trip. However, it is all about your preference and how long you can sit in a car until your tushy gets sore or you are mentally exhausted. :)
 

Yvonne

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the longest drive I did was when I moved from Buffalo, NY to UT. 1100 miles and 15 hours all the way to Joplin, Missouri the first day. The first 300 miles were in a blizzard with whiteout conditions on the freeway. Not a lot of fun. I had to hurry because a new snow storm was in the forecast and I wanted to be out of Oklahoma and Texas when it hit. They have no clue how to deal with it, same thing with St. George, UT.
 

Vegan.Hiker

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Thanks all. Even after 4 years on this forum, it's members are still finding new ways to inspire me. All of your posts are helpful and I take them all to heart. I'm leaning towards taking the long drive. I just want to talk to my vet first about any potential issues crossing the border with Lucy before I commit. Thanks to @Jackson I'll be looking into taking an extra day off at work to do some site seeing and maybe a day hike along the way at Fundy NP in New Brunswick. Thanks to @slc_dan I'll remember to stay realistic about my plans. Thanks to @regehr I'll be making a list of audiobooks to download. And thanks to the rest of you for the encouragement, I could go on and on. Everyone's dedication to making their trips happen makes us a rare breed and I'm glad we've found our own little corner of the internet. I first heard about Cape Chignecto in Nova Scotia about 2 years ago and it's been in the back of my mind ever since. If I actually make it there next month, It'll be in part because of you guys.

@KJR - I found your post particularly inspiring so thank you! And with your first post as well... so welcome to BCP!

I routinely drive from Seattle to Canyonlands / Southern Utah / Southwest Colorado twice a year - 17 hours to Moab, usually going a couple hours further, Also do Yellowstone (12 hours) twice a year. 7 to 9 day trips each or sometimes Yellowstone in 4. I leave Thursday afternoon from work and get in 8 or 9 hours, sleep in my truck in a hotel parking lot for a few hours, get up early and go, can be at some trail around Moab for a leg stretcher in early afternoon. I always hike solo, so driving solo is no big deal, Used to drive all summer long in Alaska so I find it easy. Also - think of it as part of the adventure of the hike. Driving early and late is great to see wildlife, even along interstates, at least out west. I find that by the time I get to the trail, I am relaxed and work is gone, the unwinding is taken care of. 13 hours and I wouldn’t even think twice. Leave straight from work, drive 7 or 8 hours, find a nice hotel / motel parking lot (usually much quieter than a rest area), mix in with all the cars, catch some sleep, get up and go early, be there and hiking by 10:00

Kevin

Also, @Artemus ...

Do I provide a recount of the drives to Alaska to hike? Twice?

Yes, would love to hear.
 
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Vegan.Hiker

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Thanks all. I got my permit secured this morning. Finagled an extra day off work to lengthen the trip a little as well.

permit.jpg
 

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