St. Clair residents may have seen a man backpacking across town last Wednesday, Aug. 16.
That was Lucas Bonney, 28, who is traveling the country on foot. He spoke to The Missourian about his journey so far.
Starting in his home state of Maine, Bonney said he is two months into his trip and has traveled to several states already including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, West Virginia and Missouri.
Last year, he hiked 1,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail, but had to stop when his dad became sick. Now, he has the time to explore the country coast-to-coast.
“I got a taste of freedom just (from) traveling,” Bonney said. “I wanted to get out West and see stuff I haven’t seen.”
Having just $37 in his pocket when he began the trip, Bonney carries only the bare necessities with him. In his backpack, he has a waterproof sleeping bag, cold weather gear, an isobutane stove, a small pot, Band-Aids, alcohol wipes and some food.
“Really all you need is food and water,” he said.
What may seem unusual to some is that he does not carry a map or cellphone.
“I gave up the cellphone a year and a half ago,” he said. “If I had a cellphone I would be staring at that the whole time and I’m not staring at the world.”
As far as directions, Bonney said he stops at places where he can use a computer to map out his next move.
When his feet get tired, he hitches for rides.
“When you get rides, you get to meet a lot of cool people and a lot of strange people,” Bonney said with a laugh.
“The guy who gave me a ride up to St. Clair used to be an explosives expert,” he noted.
Bonney mentioned another instance where someone picked him up near Cincinnati, Ohio, and the two were silent the entire car ride.
“If you were just driving right through (the country), you wouldn’t meet those people,” he said, adding that humanity is not lost among society.
Bonney recalled a night when he camped out in front of a church. The next morning, a woman asked if he was OK and if he needed something to eat. He said she directed him to a gas station where he could get free food.
“People think (humanity is) all gone, like nobody is wanting to help each other, but it’s out there,” he said.
Averaging about two days a state, Bonney said he plans to arrive in California by the end of October. His goal is to work as a migrant farm worker to earn money and eventually hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
He mentioned that his trail nickname is “The Colonel” because he has a Colonel Sanders tattooed on his arm.
“When you hike pretty much any trail, you end up either earning a trail name or somebody gives it to and you go by that instead of your real name,” Bonney said.
Some aspects he has enjoyed throughout his journey so far are “Seeing all the different changes in the landscape and the demeanors of the people that live there,” Bonney said.
One thing he said he is not fan of are spiders, ticks and mosquitoes.
“Where I come from we don’t have a lot of bugs,” Bonney said.