In the summer of 1857, the American writer Henry David Thoreau – best known for his book Walden detailing his experiences of living in a log cabin for two years in the wild – went on a canoe trip in the still unspoilt regions of Maine, with a friend and an Indian guide from the reservation of Old Town.
Canoeing in the Wilderness is the recounting of this two-week journey, in the form of a diary.
Think of our little eggshell of a canoe tossing across that great lake, a mere black speck to the eagle soaring above it!
Canoeing in the Wilderness by Henry David Thoreau
It’s the classic canoeing trip: the rain showers, the instability of the canoe on open water when the wind whips up the waves, shooting through rapids and clambering over fallen trees on the portages… camping by the waterside, a dripping tent and nights disturbed by mosquitoes… cooking over fire, picking raspberries, waking to bird song at dawn… getting lost in the woods and suffering an upset stomach. All this accompanied by Thoreau’s vivid observations of nature, the plants, animals and landscape – not to mention the ways and character of his Indian guide.
You feel like you’re right there in the woods with him.
I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. It is cheerfully, musically earnest.
Henry David Thoreau’s Journal, 16 November 1850
You might also like: ⇒ Adventure 101: Canoeing the Allagash on National Geographic ⇒ Canoeing in the Wilderness on the Gutenberg Project ⇒ Quotes from Henry David Thoreau on the Walden Woods Project