Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Maine Gazetteer: The Great North Woods

It is in these Great North Woods, the third part of northern Maine, the last undeveloped and unprotected land east of the Rockies, the famous 10 million acres, that the fantasist can find his true heaven. Not necessarily physically find it, but ideally, spiritually. I’ve done somewhat more than most people to explore the woods: driving the Stud Mill, Golden and Greenville logging roads; hiking a bit in Baxter State Park; driving Route 201 through The Forks and Jackman to Quebec. I’ve done somewhat more than most to channel Thoreau: following the Penobscot River, and its East and West Branches, (by car) for a while; climbing Mt. Kineo in Moosehead Lake; touching on Ambajejus and Chesuncook Lakes. But I’ve done nothing about the real wilderness: fishing camps accessible only by seaplane; canoe trips on the rivers that flow north, the Allagash and the St. John; interviews with loggers in the deep woods; moose hunts; being completely alone. It may not be necessary. The knowledge that the Great North Woods still exists, remote and inaccessible and untouched and in a natural state of growth and decay, life and death, without human intervention; the satisfaction that I’ve experienced just enough of it; the hope that it survives for others to experience just enough; all that is sufficient to inspire ordinary life, in Maine or in Manhattan.

Excerpted from Saving Maine: A Personal Gazetteer
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