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This is a friendly place. I'm not out to prey on those who visit this Web site.

A Friendly Place

As a child in the Philippines, my wife was taught that the woods and mountains were dangerous places. "Bad people," especially the Huks (Hukbalahap communist insurgents), hid out in the mountains ready to rob and kill any innocent who happened by. The Huk was the bogeyman of her generation. My wife retains something of this simple view to this day, and she sometimes thinks I venture into deserted places at great peril at the hands of "bad people."

In modern, free, politically stable societies, there could be nothing further from the truth. I often tell my wife, and I sincerely believe, that "bad people" don't go to the woods, they go to the cities. In the cities they find plenty of potential targets (as Willie Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks, "That's where the money is"). They also have plenty of opportunity to disappear into the anonymity of the crowd.

Not that everyone in any city is a "bad person," of course, but everyone in any city knows that they could potentially cross paths with "bad people," and so they keep their guard up to some degree. Clearly, one faces greater risk of harm at the hands of man in a modern city than in a wilderness. And this risk breeds reserve, and this reserve perpetuates the uncomfortable feeling of the city.

You can test for yourself whether the woods are friendlier than the cities. Walk half a mile down any city street, and you might pass hundreds of people. Most likely, not a single one will greet you or look you in the eye, or even acknowledge your presence beyond avoiding an actual collision with you.

Now, walk half a mile along any reasonably popular hiking trail. Not too popular: That urban distrust infects the most crowded city parks and national park attractions. And not too unpopular: You don't want to walk half a mile without meeting anyone at all, at least not for purposes of this test. If you take a walk in the woods and meet half a dozen people or so, there's a good chance that every one of them will exchange pleasantries, and a few might even stop to chat for a moment.

That's the kind of atmosphere I hope to bring to this Web site. I'm not waiting to ambush you. Yes, there are the affiliate programs and ads, and a few more things coming that will enable me to make a little money. It's not my main motivation here, but if I take in a little cash to help defray the costs of the Web site, that's okay. But I'm not here to prey on those who visit this Web site.

This is a friendly place, and you can let your guard down a little. We're not making actual contact, but virtually, lift your head up and look me in the eye. "Hello! Enjoy your hike!"

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