MTPR

Cows, Dogs, and 'The Montana Posse' Harass Hiker

May 18, 2016

In September 2012, Ken Ilgunas stuck out his thumb in Denver, Colorado, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles north to the Alberta tar sands. After being duly appalled, he commenced to walk nearly 2,000 miles, (mostly) following the route of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.

It would become a 4.5 month journey across the Great Plains. To follow the pipe, he couldn't take roads. Instead, he walked across fields, grasslands, and private property. He had to trespass across America.

Trespassing Across America: One Man's Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland is about Ilgunas's journey:  fleeing from cows, taking cover from gunfire, and keeping warm on a very wintry and questionably-timed hike. But it's also about coming to terms with climate change and figuring out what our role as individuals should be in confronting something so big and so out of our hands. It's about taking a few months of your life to look at your country from a new perspective. Ultimately, it's about embracing the belief that a life lived not half wild is a life only half lived.

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Ken Ilgunas has worked as an elementary school tutor, an Alaskan tour guide, and a backcountry ranger at the Gates of the Arctic National Park. He has hitchhiked 10,000 miles across North America and paddled 1,000 miles across Ontario in a birch-bark canoe. Ilgunas has a B.A. from SUNY Buffalo in history and English, and an M.A. in liberal studies from Duke University. The author of the travel memoir Walden on Wheels and Trespassing Across America: One Man's Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland, he currently lives in Benedict, Nebraska.