North to Katahdin
By Eric Pinder. Milkweed Editions, 2005, 178 pp.
Katahdin—a name derived from the Abenaki Indian words kette adene, which is said to mean “greatest mountain”—is the highest point in Maine. It is also one end—for most thru-hikers, the endpoint—of the Appalachian Trail which extends 2160 miles to Georgia. In North to Katahdin, Eric Pinder rambles throughout the Katahdin region, ruminating on the mountain’s history and symbolism, and meditating on America’s relationship with wilderness.
Pinder takes as his starting point Henry David Thoreau’s 1846 visit to Katahdin, which he intended to climb but decided to abandon instead. Throughout the book, the author returns to this naturalist-philosopher, as he reflects on the popularity of mountain hiking today—an activity rare in Thoreau’s day—and wonders about the draw. “What is it—philosophically, aesthetically, and biologically—that attracts us to nature in the first place?” he asks. “Can the natural world still satisfy crowds in search of solitude?” Read More