Have a couple more quotes to share from Ken Ilgunas’ book Trespassing Across America. From Chapter 8, The Ogre and the Leprechaun:
On this trip, the locals had every reason to keep their distance and be suspicious, and even treat me with a sort of guarded contempt. Yet they had shown me nothing but compassion and generosity, opening their hearts and doors to this dusty, bearded, limping backpacker who could conceivably be a criminal.
I wish I could say I fall into this category, but honestly I don’t. If I were to see a “dusty, bearded, limping backpacker” I’d have a very hard time showing “nothing but compassion and generosity”. I also this this would be true for a majority of Americans and feel that this observation by Ken is one that is truly unique to A) the small towns he was experiencing and B) the plains of the mid-west. I would dare say it is impossible to practice this degree of openness while living in a large city.
To travel alone, I’d learned, isn’t to rely on yourself. To travel alone is to force yourself to depend on others. It is to fall in love with mankind.
I’m not really convinced that I agree with this point from Ken. While he made light of larger established trails, such as the Appalachian Trail, these trails had large expanses where a hiker is truly alone. Also if you truly prepare for your travel then you shouldn’t be forced to “depend on others” regardless of what happens. Granted, extreme emergencies happen that may force you to reach out and seek the kindness of strangers, but I feel those are the exception not the rule.