150th Thoreau-Wabanaki Tour Participants

What follows is a partial list of the guides, the paddlers and the scholars who took up the paddle and pack to celebrate 150 years of adventure, 150 years of literature and 150 years of well-turned phrases–who’ll made all or at least part of the journey through the Maine Woods as part of the Maine Woods Discovery Team.

Maine Woods Discovery Partners

Kevin Slater, Mahoosuc Guide Service

Kevin Slater and Polly Mahoney are co-founders and owners of Mahoosuc Guide Service (www.mahoosuc.com ). They are Master Maine Guides offering wilderness canoe trips in the summer and dogsledding in the winter.  With 40 years of Maine guiding experience, Kevin is past president of the Maine Wilderness Guides Association and an accomplished builder of traditional wood canvass canoes.

Matt Polstein, New England Outdoor Center

Matt Polstein founded New England Outdoor Center in 1982. He is a registered Maine Guide and considered to be one of the pioneers of Maine whitewater rafting. In addition to running NEOC, Matt is executive director of Maine River Trails, a member of the Maine Community Foundation board of directors, and a past member of the Millinocket Town Council.

Mike Wilson, Northern Forest Center

As senior program director for the Northern Forest Center, Mike coordinates the Maine Woods Discovery initiative and other Maine Woods tourism development programs. Between 2005 and 2010 he developed and managed the National Endowment for the Humanities sponsored mobile exhibition of forest-based culture and heritage across the Northern Forest region of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York – Ways of the Woods: People and Land in the Northern Forest.

Bryan Wentzell, Appalachian Mountain Club

Brian is the Maine Policy Director for the Appalachian Mountain Club. He is closely involved with AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative, and chairs the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council.  Bryan is a private seaplane pilot with deep family roots in both conservation and logging in the Maine Woods.

Lani LaCasce, Appalachian Mountain Club

Lani is the Assistant Manager and full time Naturalist based out of Little Lyford Lodge and Cabins. She grew up in the Greenville area, at her families sporting camp on Moosehead Lake and is quite familiar with the local woods, flora and fauna. After college Lani headed west, working summers at a premier Fly Fishing Lodge in remote Alaska, and during winters as a ski instructor at Taos. With her desire to return to Maine, she was recently a Fly Fishing Instructor for LL Bean’s Outdoor Discovery School, and an Instructor/Leader for the local NREC children’s educational programming efforts.

Penobscot Nation Representatives

James Francis, Penobscot Nation

James is Penobscot Nation Tribal Historian, Director of the Nation’s Culture and Historic Preservation Department, and a noted expert on Henry David Thoreau’s visits to Maine and his Penobscot guides on the Wabanaki Trail.

Chris Sockalexis, Penobscot Nation

Chris is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Penobscot Nation.  He is a graduate of the University of Maine Anthropology Program with his primary focus being Maine Archaeology and Maine Geology.  As a member of the Penobscot Nation, Chris grew up on the Penobscot River paddling at a young age with his father and uncle.  He is also an accomplished singer with knowledge of traditional Penobscot songs as well as contemporary powwow style singing.

Jason Pardilla, Penobscot Nation

Jason Pardilla’s forte is promoting the understanding of the Penobscot people by providing a unique, harmonious and meaningful experience that allows guests to gain an insight while enjoying nature.  As a Penobscot Nation Tribal Guide, he will share the experience of an exceptional trek onto tribal waterways and hunting grounds.  Constantly searching for serenity, Jason traverses the waterways and forests for a secluded wilderness experience.


James Finley, Editor, Thoreau Society Bulletin

In the fall James takes a position as an assistant professor of English at New Mexico State University, is presently the editor of the Thoreau Society Bulletin. He has published multiple articles and reviews on Thoreau, including a 2012 article on The Maine Woods published in ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. For many years he led backpacking trips in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and trips to Katahdin and the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.

Ron Hoag, PhD, East Carolina University

Ron is a professor of English at ECU.  He is a current member of the Thoreau Society board of directors and a past editor of The Concord Saunterer, the society’s well-regarded scholarly journal.  He published (with Bradley Dean) a book-length study of Thoreau’s career as a lecturer in two volumes of Studies in the American Renaissance. In past years he retraced Thoreau’s Maine Woods travels with J. Parker Huber, author of The Wildest Country: A Guide to Thoreau’s Maine, and also followed Thoreau’s Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers journey with nature writer Anne LaBastille.  He also appeared as a “talking head” in Wilderness and Spirit, A Mountain Called Katahdin by Maine filmmaker Huey.

Stan Tag, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, Western Washington University

Stan is an associate professor or American Literature and Culture, and author of  “Growing Outward into the World: Henry David Thoreau and the Maine Woods Narrative Tradition, 1804-1886” (U of Iowa, 1994). He is currently writing a book called “Exceedingly Refreshing: Climbing Katahdin in the 19th Century,” which explores the natural, cultural, and expeditionary history of Katahdin and the people who climbed it, and has a new article coming out in the Thoreau Society Bulletin on the 1845 ascent of Katahdin by Edward Everett Hale and William Francis Channing. Stan has also worked as a backpack guide in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado, canoed in the Boundary Waters, ridden a bicycle across the United States from Bowman Bay, WA, to Isle au Haut, ME.

John Kucich, PhD, Bridgewater State University

John is an associate professor of English specializing in 19th century American literature. His research over the past decade has looked at the intersection of European and Native American perspectives around specific resonant, contested environments. His most recent project, “Lost in the Maine Woods: Henry Thoreau, Joseph Nicolar and the Penobscot World,” (Link to Abstract Only) focused on the interaction between Thoreau and the Penobscot leaders who guided him through the Maine Woods.

James Lewis, PhD, Forest History Society

Jamie is the staff historian for the Forest History Society and editor of the Society’s magazine, Forest History Today, and its award winning blog Peeling Back the Bark.  He is the author of The Forest Service and The Greatest Good: A Centennial History, and recently began research on a book examining the role of family owned forests in forest conservation.

Other Paddlers, Guides and Participants

Yeshe Parks

Yeshe grew up in the lakes region of central Maine, a geographic upbringing which seeded his ongoing passion and relationship with the traditions and landscapes of the the State. He received his undergraduate degree in painting and then went to work as a small scale organic wild blueberry farmer across Maine. Parks is an artist and film maker interested in social practice as expressed through experimental media, ethnographic and documentary production. He is currently receiving his MFA from the University of Maine’s Intermedia program.