Since my earlier sarcastic post, the issue haunted me a bit and became food for thought. This summer's solo trek was in a very mountainous Wilderness Area where the Forest Service has abandoned many trails, and much of it has become inaccessible.
Not surprisingly, only two other people were seen during a six day period.
Not a bad place for an enterprising criminal to set up shop.
On the other hand, there was a raid some years ago on a MJ patch just a short distance behind my home in the National Forest. Evidently, planes can spot the plants, and law enforcement watched the location until the growers made a visit.
And I've also observed strange folk hanging around suspicious vegetation while hiking on the borders of Wilderness Areas.
So apparently, it can happen anywhere, especially in locations well removed from public trails. Not to mention the movie, "Deliverance," and how it still affects people. Since I frequent remote areas, I suppose the question really is whether to be armed should I come across such folk.
My own personal decision is NOT. Based on past experience, including a mugging with a razor blade held to my neck in the city, survival intact is more likely when the other guy(s) don't feel threatened, even if they are hyped on heroin, as they were. This is contrary to episodes about crazed killers seen frequently on crime shows on TV, but TV is not reality. But others feel differently, and it is not unusual to see people armed here in the White Mountains, and commonplace to see firearms with horsepackers in the Rockies. I just accept it as part of the era that I live in. If the incidence of harm to backpackers were considerable, the decision might be different.
As far as justifiable homicide involving self defense is concerned, it should be noted that the shooter usually has the burden to present evidence. As shown by the recent widely publicized case in Florida, innocence or guilt is often very unclear no matter what the law is in the particular state.
BTW, came up with two more super shooters, The Ungine and the AUG, the latter of which packs down enough to conceal in the foam in a camera case. The Ungine came from William Diehl in "Chameleon," and the AUG from one of David Stone's novels. It is illegal, of course, to possess them in the USA. There was also a great little 'zip-strip' gun used on an assassin by Werner in one of Len Deighton's novels that would fit the bill for backpacking light.