Is the border actually lawless? This father and son are hiking all 1,954 miles to find out.

Nearly 2,000 miles of hot, dry and mostly inhospitable terrain, the United States’ border with Mexico is not a top tourism destination.

It is a landscape in which one is more likely to find people who are compelled to be there: immigrants crossing into the United States illegally; growing numbers of Border Patrol agents assigned to police and secure the area; vigilantes hoping to stanch the flow of illegal migration; and activists working to support it.

Paul and Nick Pineda, a father and son duo from the Seattle area, have set their sights on the border for another reason: They plan to walk it in its entirety, specifically for the unique challenges it presents.

Part political activism, father-son bonding trip and outdoors adventure, their journey began March 6th at the southern edge of San Diego, the latest of a small group of trekkers drawn to the border for a complex and emotional mix of personal and political reasons.

The Pinedas’ journey is more than a personal challenge; it is a political statement, one of an increasingly common type, meant to show that the border and the people trying to cross it — subjects of intense attacks and aggressive policies meant to curb illegal immigration — are not something to be feared.

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