Into The Maine Woods on the heels of Thoreau
May of this year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of “The Maine Woods” by Henry David Thoreau. A man who understood the inseparability of people and place – and who went to some trouble to immerse himself in the wild places he loved, from Walden Pond to Cape Cod to the White Mountains – it was Maine that Thoreau considered among the wildest of wild places.
He made two trips in 1856 and 1857, attempting to summit Mount Katahdin by the more difficult route; paddling the Allagash and descending the Penobscot via the Ripogenus Gorge. The 1864 publication puts his considerations of the Maine Woods in a context of the American Civil War. A time when many gave careful thought to the alternatives.
It seems the times often outrun the ability of their occupants to keep up. When that happens we seek the advice of guides; an idea ingrained in the enduring tradition of the Maine Guide. Whether the Penobscots who directed Thoreau and so many other ‘rusticators,’ William Wingate Sewall the famous Maine woodsman who became Theodore Roosevelt’s mentor and lifelong friend or, in the case of Spruce Point Inn, the guys who know the mid-coast with the backs of their hands.
Insiders, we call them, and find that our innkeepers’ inside tips recommending the sometimes hidden pleasures of the Point, Boothbay and beyond become our guests’ (and prospective guests’) favorite aspects of their Maine escapes. They may not be tracking bear or salmon, but our innkeepers do know how to bring the best of Maine’s wild places to an access point that can transform a vacation: watching whales, puffins and harbor seals, climbing a lighthouse, watching the sun set and the stars come out on a hot August night.
Thoreau marched by a different drummer. So do we. Come into the Maine Woods this year and find what Henry David sought here 150 years ago. The fragile, transitory natural world that surrounds us if we take the time to stop and look. Let us be your guide.