A fringe hiker is a wanderer who lives their life under the assumption that any good things in their life will extract a price later. Conversely, by purposely undergoing hardships, they can satisfy the perversity of the universe and avoid inviting catastrophe.
Furthermore, all fringe hikers are trying to get Home, whatever that may mean to them. Fate, of course, conspires to prevent them from reaching home; they tend to meet with bizarre disasters whenever they get too close. Like the legendary Odysseus, fringe hikers often wander for decades while seeking a way back to their wives and homelands.
Much like Odysseus, fringe hikers are very hard to kill. Some theorize it is because they are the playthings of the gods. But the gods hate having to interfere to save the life of a fringe hiker, and always exact a price for it later. To cope with the trials of the Fringe, a Hiker must become powerful in the ways of the wilderness.
There is a thin “fringe” of routes that satisfy these requirements and still wind slowly homeward. The miserable soul “walks the fringe” where he is uncomfortable but not dying, wandering but making progress. It’s often a thin line to tread.
We all see aspects of the Fringe in our daily life, and live by it half-consciously.
Traffic is worst when you’re in a hurry.
If you pack your raincoat, it won’t bother raining that day.
Examples of Fringe are very common in literature, from mythology to the classics to contemporary Discworld novels.
As a reader, you may find beauty in the idea of wandering the wide open world and overcoming all nature can throw at you.