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.

Cheri has been an editor at Longreads since 2014. She's currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area.