Trespassing Across America

One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland
Narrated by: Andrew Eiden
Length: 7 hrs and 44 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (301 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Told with sincerity, humor, and wit, Trespassing Across America is both a fascinating account of one man's remarkable journey along the Keystone XL pipeline and a meditation on climate change, the beauty of the natural world, and the extremes to which we can push ourselves - both physically and mentally.

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 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, Colorado, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles to the Alberta tar sands. Once there, he turned around and began his 1,900-mile trek to the XL's endpoint on the Gulf Coast of Texas, a journey he would complete entirely on foot, almost exclusively walking across private property.

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. A tribute to the Great Plains and the people who live there, Ilgunas' memoir grapples with difficult questions about our place in the world: What is our personal responsibility as stewards of the land? As members of a rapidly warming planet? As mere individuals up against something as powerful as the fossil fuel industry? Ultimately, Trespassing Across America is a call to embrace the belief that a life lived not half wild is a life only half lived.

©2016 Ken Ilgunas (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

An Exasperating Journey

I thought this would be an inspiring tale of man, personal limits, nature's beauty, and a call to really think about how our habits and oil consumption affect our fellow man and the earth. Instead it's a diatribe by a man who 1) calls attention to how cattle ranches/cattle contribute to global warming (true), but who downs cheeseburgers like there's no tomorrow; 2) Is anti-oil, but glosses over how it's kind of necessary if you're receiving care packages via air through the mail, and if your clothes are made from petroleum-based fabrics; 3) Rails about what we've done to the buffalo, but chaws and chews on buffalo jerky; 4) Is really peeved that there are so many "No Trespassing" signs to keep strangers off land, but who goes to great lengths to put distance between himself and strangers he (admittedly) knee-jerk distrusts.
There is some seriously good stuff here: Ken's relationship to cows is pathologically funny. They're referred to as "gangs of cows," and he's ultra-paranoid, though he's been told: "You DO know they're herbivores, right?" And the few bits of nature and creatures are well-written. Andrew Eiden's narration is decent, but it neither detracts nor adds to anything.
I get it; really, I do, Ken. Changes need to be made (although, in the last 20 mins. you kinda sorta question that... ?!? What was the book about then?), and I honestly respect your trek. But I really would've liked a bit more on the beauty, the life we'd like to preserve. And respect for our fellow man. Please stop calling people idiots; it doesn't serve the movement well. Especially not when so many people helped you.

32 people found this helpful

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What a pompous jerk

This dude sure thinks a lot of himself. Dissing triple crowners because those trails are easy? Are you out of your mind? He obviously has never hiked. Couldn’t even finish this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved every minute of it

Environmental and adventure into one. Ken was able to capture the importance of keeping our home planet environmentally safe while captivating us into a wild adventure.

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All books should be this good.

I've been riveted by this book every spare moment for the past few days and am sad it's over. It's great on so many levels. The author's journey is epic, and I loved the way he shared it from the origination of the idea to the last step. He tells it in a simple and straightforward style that includes a bit of everything, as if he's telling the whole thing to a friend -- humor, pain, elaborate descriptions, reactions, fears, reflections -- from the big moments to the mundane. Nights in the tent, cow attacks, run-ins with gun-toting locals, feelings of accomplishment, self-doubt. And woven all throughout is a deep exploration not only of information about the Keystone XL pipeline, but about environmentalism, apathy, people's deeply ingrained beliefs and how/why they originate, how to stand up for something you believe in without people dismissing you as crazy -- there's just so much here. And thankfully, the narrator was so good I had to go back after the first hour and check to remind myself whether or not it was narrated by the author. It is not, but the narrator really sold it. Excellent all around, and I will be pushing it on all my friends.

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great listen

very good story of adventure, humanity, and environmentalism, all rolled together hard to put away

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It's Okay

I bought this book based on the first one which was awesome. I gave it three stars because I didn't like the narrator. He tried too hard and had a snobby tone. At some points I felt like I was being lectured and scolded and other parts the liberal cliches were so thick and speeches so long, my eyes never stopped rolling. This book was way more political than I thought and if I could have returned it I probably would have. If you don't mind the intermittent chapters of leftist liberal speeches on the environment and propery rights then this book is for you. I can overlook his glaring leftist politics because I'm not totally off the alt.right cliff. I got a deal on the book and audio book for five dollars so it wasn't a total loss.

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Totally Gripping

This book was incredible. It kept me pulled in throughout. I would recommend this to anyone who likes adventures.

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Good story, excellent narrator.

The author walks the Keystone Pipeline and meets many people along the way who are affected by it. Some are all for it and some hate it but Ken has the remarkable ability to not judge, see both sides and let you decide for yourself. He also meets a lot of Samaritans, some good some not so good but mostly helpful. It's a good look at the people that still live in the heartland and help make america great. The narrator is excellent. I have never heard him before but absolutely loved his delivery. This book is well worth your time.

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Fantastic read!!!

Please keep writing! Perhaps a new trip to West coast!! I’m patiently waiting to read about your next journey.

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Overall worth the read

I found this book randomly while searching for bikepacking guides, and I've been listening to it on my train and walking commute in NYC. It has been a highlight of my last few weeks, and I definitely caught some of the book's own nostalgia as I neared the end. There are a few sections that could have been pared down or left out (especially self-effacing or ego-centric journal entry-type narratives, although sometimes endearing). At other times one wonders if the author would have more authentic and interesting conversations if he just grew a spine and was more up-front with his interlocutors. But just as I would get frustrated, I would stumble on wonderfully entertaining writing and some truly enlightened insights. Ilgunas holds very little back, and curing these defects would definitely make a different book. As a millennial, I identified with the strengths and weaknesses and inner thoughts of the author, which made it a truly meaningful read. I will also miss the Plains!

1 person found this helpful