When I was younger I thought this just happened, that you could get up and start walking and just spend the night wherever you wound up. I was disappointed to discover, in Christopher Wren’s Walking to Vermont for example, but also firsthand, that there are large sections of the country that are really very inhospitable to people on foot. To a large extent, it’s because major roads have been built for cars with almost no thought to pedestrians. Outside of towns and cities, sidewalks are scarce, shoulders are narrow, and speeds are high. In some places, pedestrians are harassed, particularly outsiders.
A Walk in the Woods, which everyone has probably read, has a great deal on the issue. It’s a commentary on walking the Appalachian Trail that’s also a criticism of our culture that pushes the act of walking to the margins of the landscape and of society.