Ken Ilgunas delivers an unforgettable tribute to the Great Plains and the people who live there with this account of his journey along the proposed Keystone XL route. Along the way, he grapples with difficult questions about fossil fuels, climate change, the beauty of the natural world, and our place in it.
It started as a far-fetched idea—to hike the entire length of the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. But in the months that followed, it grew into something more for Ken Ilgunas. It became an irresistible adventure—an opportunity not only to draw attention to global warming but also to explore his personal limits. So in September 2012, he strapped on his backpack, stuck out his thumb on the interstate just north of Denver, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles to the Alberta tar sands. Once there, he turned around and began his 1,700-mile trek to the XL’s endpoint on the Gulf Coast of Texas, a journey he would complete entirely on foot, walking almost exclusively across private property.
Now that President Donald Trump has revived the Keystone XL pipeline that was rejected by former President Obama, Trespassing Across America is the book to help us understand the kaleidoscopic significance of the project.
Speaking to The Huffington Post, Ilgunas says, “I felt strangely drawn to the XL. Maybe I subconsciously appreciated the significance of this pipeline. I felt a monumental moment in our globe’s history, when finally we’re trying to get off of fossil fuels and pave the way to a more sustainable future.”
Both a travel memoir and a reflection on climate change, Trespassing Across America is filled with colorful characters, harrowing physical trials, and strange encounters with the weather, terrain, and animals of America’s plains.
“Ilgunas is something of an heir to Bill Bryson in his ability to find humor and irony in random encounters on the road. But he also brings to his work a John McPhee-like talent for placing big-picture environmental issues into an accessible narrative that’s both entertaining and perceptive. Woven into this narrative are profound insights both about the beauty of the natural world and our alternately loving, twisted and exploitative relationship with it. Ilgunas’s writing is funny, self-knowing and often moving.”—Asheville Citizen-Times
“The book mirrors its young author: impulsive, tenacious, reflective and, amazingly, cautious…a welcome message of resistance and hope.”—The Huffington Post
“A combination of Thoreau, John Steinbeck, and Ian Frazier…an unforgettable read.”—Men’s Journal