Since 1966, J.R. Harris has traveled the globe 13 times, taking more than 50 trips to many of the world’s bucket list-worthy destinations, including the Andes, the Amazon, Greenland, and more. Now 78, the Black hiker from Queens is arguably one of the world’s most prolific solo explorers, but — as Katherine LaGrave writes in this AFAR profile — you’ve probably never heard of him.
In a time when travel is too often bounded by bucket lists—moments measured by monuments seen—J.R. was, is, and will be an anomaly in the very best sort of way: someone who seeks out travel because it is challenging, requires changing of self, serves as a mirror unlike any other.
To J.R., as in work as in travel, life is about meeting people and trying to understand them; attempting to learn a little bit more about them in the hopes of learning more about yourself, the world. Like in his work, J.R. is no quiet, passive traveler. He’s invested, interested, intent.