If you find yourself doubting the future of the human race as a species, I have a simple solution for you: hike 2,600 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Now I’m not saying this is the only way to go about restoring said faith in humanity (there are plenty of other long distance hiking trails out there), but the PCT is a great option should you choose to embrace it.
In only the first two weeks out on the trail I have been given rides (despite my filthy state), had strangers go above and beyond to help me (nothing sexual – yet), been offered food, shelter, medical supplies, and been bitten by a dog (doesn’t really fit, but the dog’s owner was giving me a ride so it evens out).
Even though I was skeptical at first when I saw signs on the side of the trail reading “Water, food, shelter, this way!” (it really is not difficult to lure hikers into traps), after trusting the trail and complete strangers, I have been reminded that some people really do just want to help.
Some of those good-natured people nice enough to have picked me up off the side of the road have asked me, “aren’t you afraid of some crazy person picking you up and murdering you?” to which I reply, “no, I tend to be more afraid of running out of food or water” (and that is an awfully terrible thing to dream up you sicko).
The PCT paradigm shift has taken effect.
In general, the hiking community is very much about people helping people, even if it means that someone has to go out of their way (Zeus forbid) to help someone else. You need some water? Here. You need a band-aid? Here. You want someone to massage your feet? Well, I don’t have that much faith yet, but I am sure that if some perilous situation called for one hiker to massage the crusty, dry, calloused, cracked, filthy feet of another, they would oblige knowing that someone else would do the same for them.
If only people would stop giving me such dirty looks as I drag myself around supermarkets trying to resupply my food stock (it must be the smell).