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Is Gas affecting your backcountry trips?

10:18 a.m. on July 6, 2008 (EDT)
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I was planning a trip out west this summer, and gas prices completely obliterated my ability to get from the east coast to the west coast. Considering I only had 1000 dollars to spend.

So just curious, are gas prices hurting your traveling?

12:02 p.m. on July 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Heck yes. Gas is around $4.50 in my area and close to the Sierra trailheads is all over $5.00!. I can't afford to spend $150 on a single trip as I'm off work right now and will be going back to school in a few weeks.

2:29 p.m. on July 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Yep. My friends and I (mostly full-time students) are planning a four-day trip for the August civic holiday here in Canada, and our original plans may have to be redrawn since gas prices have become ridiculously high in Northern Ontario (usu. 10 cents/litre higher than in S. Ontario). It's a good thing there are plenty of beautiful spots only minutes out of town, or we'd be really crying in our cups. (On a positive note, I guess it just makes us a bit more creative in planning our trips, and appreciative of all the resources available in our little corner of the world...)

4:50 p.m. on July 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Maybe you have been blessed for too long in your country with too low prices for gas. Where I live the price is now 2,75$ per LITER, that is more than 10$ for a gallon. They even predict prices here within a year in the range of 15$ per gallon. Does not affect me at all. My main walking area is within one hour driving. I can spend that much for a hike.

Driving from east to west in USA must be a very long distance. Here in Norway we have a popular hiking area in the Jotunheimen. But as it is 100km from me, I do not consider to go there more than once every second year. Then I combine the trip with holiday and family visit in the south.

I agree with NLees, you simply may have to rediscover the hiking tracs closer to where you live. There it will not be so crowded also. Must be nice to point out to the summits around your home that you have been there, instead of those tourist traps far away that everyone has to visit.

7:35 p.m. on July 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Since most of my hikes are within a short bike ride, no effect for most of the hikes. But my trip to Tahoe cost some $200 in gas alone. So the trips there have to be for minimum week-long backpacks to make it worth it. Still, it's only money, and life is too short to be worrying about money when it's something you really want to do. You are going to sit around watching the tube (and paying the higher electricity bills), and vegetate to death with an early heart attack? Carpooling still keeps the individual costs down a fair amount, so splitting the $200 in gas among 4 people still kept it within reason.

9:50 p.m. on July 6, 2008 (EDT)
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I don't own a TV here and my electric bill was 75$USD for this month. =) We are lucky, gas is around 3.82$ but this is a pretty urban area with only a few spots to do any hiking. So I guess I'll be discovering more of my home state for now, at least the AT is close enough.

11:07 p.m. on July 6, 2008 (EDT)
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Being as I havent hiked local forests since High School, I can take advantage of discovering my "back yard." Trips that are 2-3 hours and may cost me $100 in gas round trip split between 3-4 guys isnt bad.

12:32 a.m. on July 7, 2008 (EDT)
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If you live in an area that has car-sharing clubs like Zipcar, then being a member can give you a little protection from sudden changes in the price of gas. Their hourly rates includes gas (and insurance), and they don't raise their hourly rates very frequently.

I've used Zipcar to drive from the Bay Area to Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and all around California, and enjoyed not having to worry about the variable price of gas. The total cost of the trip is calculated in advance, which makes it easier to budget your trip and avoid that "$@#%*!!!" feeling at that backwater gas pump.

9:53 p.m. on July 7, 2008 (EDT)
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When I was dirt poor and living out of a backpack without a car, I got around by hitchhiking. It got me to many great trails and wilderness areas. Since there are thousands of cars on the road nearly empty except for the driver, you might as well do some random carpooling with the outstretched thumb.

10:39 p.m. on July 7, 2008 (EDT)
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I work an extra day, eat out less, whatever, but nothing will keep me from making the drive to the mountains.
Nothing I tell you!

6:19 a.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Hitch Hiking will get you arrested in most states.

6:58 a.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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And safety issues for women make hitchhiking a bit unwise, especially if you often travel alone... I have occasionally hitchhiked out of a wilderness area (and often had other women offer me a ride), but I don't think I'd hitch INTO a remote area unless the conditions were extreme (severe thunderstorm, aggressive bear warnings, etc.)

Perhaps I have missed out on some opportunities to meet interesting people, but on the other hand, I've never regretted being prudent. Often, too, I'll meet people on foot that I'd never otherwise meet - and you gain an added appreciation for the communities you pass through at 6K an hour.

7:51 a.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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I hitched a lot when I was younger (back in the 1970's) - but it was a different world - people weren't shooting each other at random. In todays social environment there's no way I'd hitch unless it was an emergency.

As for gas prices - I'm staying local for day hikes - no more dashes to WVA for a day hike or overnight - then again perhaps the prices are doing exactly what's needed - they're forcing us to rethink how, when and where we drive. Trying to convince people on the environmental advantages of driving less didn't work - but the economics sure seem to be doing the trick.

I'll be moving soon - not real far but I'll have a state game land within 1/2 mile of my front door - new (trail-less) area to explore (so long as it's not "shoot whatever the heck moves" (deer) season!).

5:19 p.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Driving less is not an option for some people, I have a 35 mile commute to work every day. I cannot afford to live where I work, and high gas prices will not cause me to drive less. It does on the other hand leave me with less money to give to charities and environmental groups I support.
I would also argue that buying oil from other countries that don't give a rats behind about the environment does far more damage than domestic drilling would ever do. Why is it okay as long as it is in someone else's back yard?

Don't misunderstand me, I am a huge supporter of alternative energy, and greener living, but even if the price of gas was 20 bucks a gallon, it would be years before the roads were full of electric/hydrogen cars. Even then how will we generate the electricity to charge all those li-ion batteries, coal fired generators, nuclear power?
I can assure you if we had cars that ran on water, someone would figure out a way to force you to pay 4 bucks a gallon for water too. It would require a special fitting, or contain an additive to keep it from freezing, ect. Nuclear is the only viable option we have (for now), if we take oil and coal out of the picture.
Again, I want to move on to cleaner renewable energy as much as anybody, but lets not be so quick to cut our own throats as we make the conversion.
Higher gas prices do not encourage energy companies to pursue less profitable and speculative endeavors when they can stay put and rake in historic profits. Private enterprise (car manufacturers) are producing a few promising cars, but even they say it will take a decade before the technology has been proven reliable and affordable. Remember the exploding laptop batteries?

I do not mind driving slower or consolidating my trips to save gas, but the glee some people have about high gas prices, thinking it will bring about utopia, is to me a lack of understanding about people who have to choose between gas and groceries every Friday. Or the hurt it has put on programs like Meals on Wheels which delivers food to the needy or home bound.
Higher gas prices raises the price of everything, which slows the economy and leaves less money for people to buy cars with. This puts the hurt on car manufacturers and leaves them less money for research and development.

Just my opinion guys, no need to stone me. I'll ride a donkey to the mountains if I have to! Giddy-up

8:29 p.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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I will not get popular on this, but I need to say it. USA must have the lowest prices on gas in the world. Not in actual price, but when you calculate how many working hours it takes to buy it.
I found a list of about 100 countries and their gas prices. The list is in euro/liter here http://gasoline-germany.com/international.phtml As you can see, most of the countries that have lower prices than USA, have wages at a fraction of average US wages.

Most of you who are reading this forum are fond of nature. If there is some truth in the reports that burning oil and gas destroys the climate, then also USA must reduce their consumtion. Price is a very effective way of doing that.

The average US citizen will use less on buying 100 litres of gas than the average european, even if the price doubled. I feel sorry only for those that have less than the average salary, and those that looses their jobs because of this change. But there is a positive side also. New jobs will emerge as the local shops will reappear. They disappeared when everyone went shopping by car in big supermarkets. So cheer up, change is coming and there are opportunities also.

9:08 p.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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OttoStover, I would not disagree with you, I'm sure we sound like a bunch of cry babies to our friends in Europe!
One point I would like to make is the great distances we have to travel.
If you live on the east coast, say New York city, and you need to travel to the west coast, say Los Angeles, you have to drive or fly about 5000 Km. That's a lot of gas.
I do appreciate your point of view, you are right we need to reduce our consumption, and most people here are trying to do that as much as possible.
The trend right now in the USA seems to be toward more fuel efficient cars since many of us cannot easily reduce the distance we must travel to work.
The two biggest emerging oil markets right now are India and China, and their increased consumption is the biggest factor in the cost of a barrel of oil now.
Also keep in mind that our tax rate on gasoline here is very low compared to some countries because our government does not provide health care and some of the other social programs that have driven the price of gas up in other countries.
We still have to pay for our health care after we have filled up our gas tanks, so you have to be careful about how comparative statistics are calculated. The link you gave is of course just a simple list of current prices by country.
I have a very good friend from England who often laughs at me for complaining about the cost of gas here, he is happy to fill up his car! He is not happy to go to the doctor. We often speak of how we look at things differently, but yet agree on most subjects. I feel we have learned a lot from each other.

This link gives the taxes on a gallon/liter of gas by country.

9:59 p.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Otto -
Two things - Europe (and many other countries - I am counting everything in the EU loosely as "a country" though the Irish among others disagree vehemently) have much higher taxes on autogas and autodiesel than the US (our roads are paid for with the help of taxes on other things in addition to tax on the fuel itself). Second, notice that the oil-producing countries generally have far lower fuel costs than anyone else. True, countries like Venezuela and Nigeria have average per capita incomes of almost zero, but the UAE and several others of the oil producers have per capita incomes of much more than the US, Canada, Europe, Australia (their "guest workers" get pretty low hourly wages, though, about what the "servers" in our fast food restaurants get).

Another thing is that few countries pile up as many miles (kilometers) of driving per year as the US, simply because of distances and lack of good public transportation. Europe, being much more compact, has long had far better public transportation (subsidized in large part by the high fuel taxes - in the US, public transportation gets a pittance from the fuel taxes).

This isn't to make an excuse. It's just the way it is and the way that has become engrained in our habits. Cars are more convenient, therefore public transport is underutilized, which leads to cutbacks in public transport, which leads to more dependence on cars, which leads to less patronage of public transport, which leads to cutbacks in support for public transport, and so on and so on in a vicious circle.

In my area, lots of people do bicycle and use public transport. But it is still a minority. It is pretty inconvenient to go from where I live on the Mid-Peninsula to downtown San Francisco or to San Jose, and when you get to either, you still are a long way from where you need to go. On the other hand, when I was in Tanzania last December, I saw people crowding into the taxi-vans (I mean really crowded, hanging from the doors) and walking for miles. Almost no one in the US would be willing to do that (at least at this point in time). The Chinese and Indians are becoming more resistant to the old ways, now that more and more of them can afford cars (and several of their national automobile companies are starting to sell cars for the equivalent of $2000 USD).

Back in 1973 (the first Arab oil embargo), people predicted that people would stop driving when gas got to $0.50/gallon. Having been Europe where gas was $1 to $2/gallon, I knew that was wrong, but thought that when it got to $3, people would cut back. Now that gas is $4-5/gallon in most urban areas (higher in the remote mountain areas, there is only a slight slowdown. But then, when you consider inflation, That's still only the equivalent of $0.40 to $0.50/gallon (yes, inflation measured by the "core" Consumer Price Index is up over a factor of 10 since the 1970s - a few here remember when a VW cost $2000 or less, instead of the $20,000 to $40,000 it costs now).

11:49 p.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Lets not forget that our gas has been cheaper becuase gas is traded in Dollars and EUROPE has always had a weaker currency than the dollar. Thats the true reason why it's always been more expensive.

But thanks to the FED who seems contempt at destroying the dollar and running a muck and repeating what they did in the 1920's which lead to the depression, all that credit through the 90s has lead up to the near death collapse and devaluation of our dollar.

People always blame big oil, the arabs or someone who is an easy bad guy target while never looking at the real reason gas is expensive, BECUASE THE DOLLAR IS DAMN NEAR WORTHLESS NOW. When your currency is weak, its purchasing power is LESS. HELLO?? How come one no can figure this out?

I'll tell you way, the last thing the government wants is for you to realize that they are at fault. Everyone else is at fault in this country..

And GLOBAL WARMING is a con job to sell the newest commodities market, GREEN this and to get you to buy into a global carbon tax, so they can fund world government. Are people that dense? And after you feel for it, and things improve because its happening naturally, from the sun, they'll go, look its working, more taxes!!!

Well, now we are off topic.

11:53 p.m. on July 8, 2008 (EDT)
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Oh no, do your part to minimize your carbon foot print, buy organic, buy GREEN friendly products. BUY, CONSUME, FOLLLOW!!!

I'm all for taking care of the environment, but sometimes its complete sillyness and you'd have to be stupid to not think that big industry wouldn't see this as a goldmine. Anytime you can convince people to feel passionately about something you can convince them to do anything. Thus why someone is blowing themselves up in super markets some where in the middle east right now.

Thats why there is "THE GREEN GOAT" gear that gives back advertisements at the top of the page. It's the next big thing, remember the last big thing was health and wellness, now its GREEN.

8:49 a.m. on July 9, 2008 (EDT)
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I spent many years when I lived out in my tipi in the mountains of NC and for transportion rode a small 250cc motorcycle. It got me to work in the summer and the winters(worked 2 days a week--about a 10 mile drive one way), and with two large ALICE packs as saddlebags I was able to haul everything I needed, even a dog on a backpacking trip.

I got 75 miles to the gallon and there are mopeds that get even better gas mileage. My yearly liability insurance was $50--cheap. Americans for the most part are spoiled couch potatoes and would never consider riding a motorbike in the winter or in the rain(or in the summer for that matter), and demand to stay addicted to their wheeled and rolling couches.

10:11 a.m. on July 9, 2008 (EDT)
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hey Tipi Walter, To some degree I share your sentiment.
In my early twenties I had a Honda CJ360 that I rode to work year round in Tennessee, I did not mind really, and you are right about the economics.
Unfortunately I was almost killed in an accident with a 1966 Chevy pickup that did not see me. I will not ride a motorbike just to save money. I now think the risk is too great. Besides most of my travel is on the freeway and it is necessary for me to have a decent size vehicle since I must transport tools, and must have a laptop and printer in my vehicle. I do however ride a bike on the bike paths we have here to go to the bank or to pick up a couple items at the store.
So I do agree that most people are spoiled and out of shape,
and have no tolerance for hot/cold weather.
I too have spent a good bit of time in NC, I'm curious where did you stay in a tipi, if you don't mind? NC is a beautifull state.

6:16 p.m. on July 9, 2008 (EDT)
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I was in Watauga County outside of Boone, NC near Sugar Grove, NC.

7:05 p.m. on July 9, 2008 (EDT)
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Dang, small world, I have fished the Watauga River a few times, and have backpacked Grandfather Mnt. Beautiful country!

10:17 p.m. on July 10, 2008 (EDT)
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Yes I got a response, but I must compliment you all for being very factual. I cannot comment on all raised issues, it would take too long. Some I agree upon, others so-so.

"Need is the mother of invention" is a saying, and that is right. As long as prices of gas were low, noone bothered to build or buy energy efficient cars, or build efficient trains for transport, and all the other things that could have been done. But without a significant rise in the price for gas, it will not only take years for these canges to happen, but decades!

All change is painful, we all look back to good old days when things were like before. But it is a new reality out there, and all people in the world will be affected by it.

But I must close now. All paced and ready for a shorter trip the reverse way as the trip in winter. This time with tent, just me and my dog, 4 days in the mountains, both carrying backpacks. It may take some time before i may poste pictures of this tour, as we are off on our summer holiday next weekend. Wishing you all a good summer.


2:14 p.m. on July 11, 2008 (EDT)
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I'll focus on the original question in thsi thread. Yes, I have altered my plans for the summer. I an hiking the state forest close to home rather than driving to the more spectacular Adirondacks.

3:58 p.m. on July 11, 2008 (EDT)
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In the UK, not really, as Wales, the Lakes and Scotland are close enough for many and trains are still ok. Though petrol prices get higher as you head north to Scotland.

Sort of related: Do people still hitch-hike in the US? I hitched a couple of times when I was there about fifteen years ago, from upstate NY to Paterson NJ. Though I have met people who couldn't get a lift at all, because of where they were (Grand Rapids, CO?, does that sound right?), I myself really enjoyed it. Almost as easy as parts of Europe, and people were very friendly.

All the best.

That will teach me to read the entire thread. Arrested for hitch-hiking?!

And speaking of bleeding gas prices, you know that Coleman Fuel (White Gas), is nearly seven pounds for a 500ml can over here! Can you believe it? I'm looking into using something called Aspen 4t, which is naptha (?) as well, at about a sixth of the cost. Seven pounds for half a litre, that is what, fourteen dollars?

4:23 p.m. on July 11, 2008 (EDT)
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They do still hitch hike, most people are very friendly, however the rising crime rate has kind of put a damper on picking people up that you don't know. As much as I like to help people out, you just don't always know what they are up to. Public transportation is almost nonexistent where I live
so we have no choice but to drive.

5:11 p.m. on July 11, 2008 (EDT)
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Hi TH. I remember public transportation in rural USA. Or rather, I remember missing such a thing. Thus, walking into town usually meant walking on the side of a road, and the few people that I met looked like poor farm workers.

Saying that however, many people get very tired of using public transport for day hikes here in the UK. It can take several trains to get from a big city into the mountains, and the trains sometimes don't run on time and you can miss your connection etc. One reason I started using public transportation only for longer trips, when the hours spent on buses and trains was worth it.
Having your own transportation can often mean enjoying hiking for what it is worth. All the best.

3:48 p.m. on July 13, 2008 (EDT)
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Jon wrote "Saying that however, many people get very tired of using public transport for day hikes here in the UK. " - it may be tiresome but at least you have the option.

7:12 p.m. on July 13, 2008 (EDT)
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Yes, to a certain amount. Here in Southern Vancouver Island we are paying $1.529 to $1.649 per Litre. I just came from the gas station. For those of you south of my border that would be about per quart! It would work out about $6.116 to $6.596 per gallon.
In my area we have a few problems or issues with the high cost of gasoline. One of the problems/issues is that we are taxes heavily per litre. Some of the taxes go toward road repair/ maintenance, help subsidize public transit read bus service. Social benefits so ok(?). For some the biggest problem is that we have no competition with the gas companies here. One gas station raises the price, within a few hours, all gas stations regardless of brand raise their prices to the exact penny or portion of it. Not since the 90’s have we had an independently owned gas company here to stir the pot.
Yes we here have to consider the cost of a trip a little more. For most of us here we would have from a 30 min trip up to an hours travel to get to an area to hike, this would be the closest areas of course. The day (hours) trips will probably be fewer due to vehicle costs.
An aside we are also seeing many more big power trucks (Ford, Chevy, Dodge) up for sale, along with the trailer toys such as Camp trailers, Boats, ATV’s.

9:00 a.m. on July 14, 2008 (EDT)
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We have cut out several planned 'magic trips' this year, but thus far, we haven't had to cut any hiking trips - mostly because I'm back in PT for leg and heart problems so we haven't planned any trips except for the one associated with returning Sgt Rock to the AT near Roanoke after he spent the Easter week with his family. (The Dinos went backpacking after dropping him off near the Keifer Oak)

10:38 p.m. on July 14, 2008 (EDT)
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Increases in the cost of fuel may change plans for the late summer trip. The option I'm considering is rediscovering some "local" areas that I have not visited since the late 80's and early 90's. Worse case situation would be just walk right out my back door with the pack on the back leaving the vehicle home. Hike & camp the National Forest, National Lakeshore and Regional Conservancy area that is my backyard. I'm thankful for having this option.

10:49 p.m. on July 14, 2008 (EDT)
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I have a few areas I can go to locally, but I live in the coastal plain and all you see is flat land and pine trees, and pine trees, and pine trees, did I mention pine trees?

If I head to the coast we have sand and palm trees and salt marshes, which are cool, but it just doesn't compare to the cool shady mountains to our north (Appalachians), in my opinion.
Unfortunately that is a five hour drive and pretty much eats up half a day. But I still keep going.
I used to live much closer and could walk out my back door also. Maybe someday again.

12:29 p.m. on July 27, 2008 (EDT)
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Gasoline is only about 20% more than it was last year (USA). The sticker price is scary. The results may not be.

Bottled water is still more per gallon. But then you don't drink 20 gallons to get someplace.

Can almost make up the difference in packaging your own food and not buying freeze dried. Or putting off that new tent or sleeping bag purchase.

The cost of fun almost everywhere and everything associated with it has gone up. And you can bet gasoline may come down for awhile, but plan ahead for the eventual luxury it will become.

You can buy a very very nice BIG SUV fairly cheap now. The difference between the savings on the lumbering ox cart will more than offset the 20% increase in price of fuel AND the crappy miles per gallon...if you can sleep at night. :)

10:22 a.m. on July 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Fuel hasn't been as big of a concern for me, but then again I try to stick to local trips. Whether it's camping, backpacking, or day hiking, I usually stick to a state park, state forest, or national forest around where I live. For example, I'm currently planning on taking a few days off to go backpacking across the New Straitsville section of the Buckeye Trail. This section is within 2 hours of where I live.

Granted, Ohio isn't exactly the most challenging/exciting place to go backpacking, but it provides a great and inexpensive way to test out my equipment, learn backcountry skills, and get my kids outside.

11:28 a.m. on July 29, 2008 (EDT)
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Yes, New to forum. It has effected my ability to hike in the mountains as much, but still make the trek to go over and get in a few miles. It make me appreciate the times i am over there a little more.

5:51 p.m. on August 4, 2008 (EDT)
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I'm a student and gas prices certainly affect my trips, considering I now pretty much take ZERO of them! I drive a V8 truck, so obviously I'm not getting great gas mileage, but just driving 200 miles round trip costs me around 50 bucks. In the Panhandle of Texas nothing is close, something people from Europe simply do NOT understand. I get alright mileage on the highway, but driving the up and down roads of canyons you can literally see your gas needle moving on a V8, so this must be factored in. Then add $10-$15 bucks for camping and entrance, then food, I'm looking at almost $100 dollars for a simple overnighter. Luckily gas prices are falling slightly because I'll take anything I can get.

Th text you see here replaced a long, and recently deleted, political rant involving the inept actions of all Congress, most notably the "green" side.

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