Recent reviews and media mentions
THROUGH WOODS & WATERS: Reviewed by V. Paul Reynolds, editor of The Northwoods Sporting Journal and host of The Maine Outdoors on WVOM. Published in The Piscataquis Observer and the Lewiston Sun Journal.
By itself, the mere magnitude of this outdoor adventure is book worthy, no matter how pedestrian the writer. But Chandler is anything but pedestrian with a pen. Her depth of feeling for natural things and her keen powers of observation and introspection make her book a special read, on a par with the works of the iconic Mr. Thoreau himself.
Above all of this, the book offers well-researched and factual historical extras that I found both informative and transformative. Historical anecdotes about the logging industry and overall backdrop of this formidable wild watershed are woven skillfully thought this book…Not until Chandler’s report on her experience and fetching bird’s eye look at the East Branch’s flora, fauna and vistas, has this once-controversial natural treasure been so persuasively portrayed and revealed.
THROUGH WOODS & WATERS: Reviewed by Robert W. Spencer, author of The Spinster’s Hope Chest and Prospects, on his blog.
Through Woods and Waters is a more mature work which not only brings the reader along for the ride, but also portrays the character of the Maine woods and the monumental efforts of those who valued the wilderness enough to want it both preserved and shared with others. In these pages we find Henry David Thoreau, Governor Baxter, Theodore Roosevelt and others of an earlier age…I have enjoyed both books, but the second is created with such sparkling language and imagery that it nearly placed me there beside her in the woods and waters.
THROUGH WOODS & WATERS: Chosen by Jocelyn Hubbell of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands as a recommended read in the November 2020 newletter:
Laurie’s personal account is so much more than an adventure memoir. The spirit, nature and history of the places Laurie visits come alive through her writing and photographs. They linger well after the last page is turned. A great book for winter fireside reading. It may inspire your own journey next summer. Recommended to outdoor adventurers, armchair travelers and history buffs.
THROUGH WOODS & WATERS: Maine outdoor great George Smith chose this quote to include in his November 2020 review for the Bangor Daily News: ”
“What an adventure it had been! I had accomplished what I set out to do and done it well enough. The gifts of nature had come, often with an air of serendipity, and I had paused to appreciate them. I had fellowshipped with wild creatures and the people of the past, seen anew the intricacy and drama of God’s creation, and tested my strength, endurance, and resiliency. I had breathed deeply and renewed my soul in hidden corners that few will ever see. It had been a good visit home.”
UPWARDS: National Geographic writer Stephanie Vermillion interviewed Laurie for a Sept. 2020 article on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail which captures the allure of the trail and emphasizes its heritage. Check out the cover photo, by NFCT section paddler Chris Gill, whose work is worthy of National Geographic!
UPWARDS: Canoe & Kayak online magazine interviewed Laurie for a May 4, 2018 article by Conor Mihell, entitled “Solo on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail: Laurie Chandler’s new book captures the highs and lows of a thru-paddler.”
V. Paul Reynolds In The Ellsworth American (Feb. 21, 2018) (from Outdoors in Maine, a weekly syndicated outdoor column for Maine newspapers by V. Paul Reynolds, who is also the editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal)
Guest Blog Posts
Press Release – Through Woods & Waters Book Release (October 19, 2020)
New Book Takes Readers to Maine’s New National Monument
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, over 87,000 acres of wild beauty, is a natural treasure awaiting discovery. A place of turbulent rivers, misty mountaintops, and complex ecosystems, its rich history is written in ancients rocks and the annals of early exploration. Designated in 2016, on land donated by Roxanne Quimby’s family foundation, its huge expanse lies to the east of Baxter State Park.
In the summer of 2018, Bremen author Laurie Apgar Chandler was longing for a new challenge. The year before, after becoming the first woman to solo thru-paddle the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, she published her first book, Upwards, about that inspiring journey. Chandler found she loved the author life and dreamed of embarking on another wilderness trip with journal in hand.
“When you have traveled far in the northern forest, known its rhythms and become part of them for a time, the woods and waters call you back,” Chandler writes in the prologue to her new book, Through Woods & Waters: A Solo Journey to Maine’s New National Monument.
This time around, Chandler crafted her own unique route.
“I would follow the Wabanaki people, and Thoreau, and countless others whose names I did not know, but whose spirits would flow with mine. There would be plenty of whitewater, old-fashioned carries, and wild weather in wild places. Darkness or circumstances might force me to stealth camp, which, in truth, I greatly enjoy.”
Chandler began by backpacking up and over the panoramic peaks of the International Appalachian Trail, whose first miles cross the national monument. Afterward, she traded her hiking boots for her trusty 13-foot solo canoe. Following age-old waterways into the upper watershed of the Penobscot River’s East Branch, she descended its rushing rapids and quiet byways, through the heart of the monument. As readers will discover, circumstances did indeed require her to improvise a camping spot on more than one occasion.
Through Woods & Waters, published in cooperation with Maine Authors Publishing of Thomaston, is available at a host of independent book stores, on Amazon, and on the author’s website at laurieachandler.com.
Press Release – Upwards Book Release (October 19, 2017)
Story of Canoe Adventure Takes Readers Somewhere New
Upwards: The story of the first woman to solo thru-paddle the Northern Forest Canoe Trail is an uplifting memoir about finding the inner strength and faith to achieve a dream, set amid the rich tapestry of the history, wildlife, landscapes, and people of New England.
Readers love thru-journeys, tales of hiking the Appalachian Trail or sailing away to a sun-drenched Caribbean island. They intrigue and inspire us and are responsible for far too many hours of happy day-dreaming. Now there’s a new destination for lovers of this genre. The memoir Upwards, by Laurie Apgar Chandler, explores the country’s longest mapped inland paddling trail, New England’s Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
In the summer of 2015, at age 53, the author became the first woman to solo thru-paddle this relatively new trail. Since its founding in 2000, just 95 people have made the official NFCT list, going the distance in one expedition. Trail stewardship is provided by a membership-based nonprofit whose maps and online resources guided Chandler across New York, Vermont, a bit of Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine.
“Think about it,” says Gil Gilpatrick, Master Maine Guide and author of Allagash: A Journey Through Time on Maine’s Legendary Wilderness Waterway. “740 miles of canoe travel, 150 miles upstream, 67 portages totaling 125 miles. Chandler accomplished this alone in 53 days. After I read Upwards, I couldn’t wait to see her again…she certainly earned my admiration and respect.”
Join the author in her 13-foot Kevlar canoe for the most comprehensive look yet at the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Struggle upstream and race down flooded rivers churning with whitewater. Dodge escaped convicts and linger to watch bull moose feed and loons go crazy. Find the wilderness of centuries past on remote lakes and in the nooks and crannies of busy places. Go slowly, in a small canoe, taking time to see it all along the way.
On a deeper level, this is also the story of finding the inner strength and faith to achieve the improbable. This expedition was a stretch for Chandler, whose passion for wilderness paddling blossomed after 40, when she moved to Maine with her two children. In the solitude, she began journaling, drawing inspiration from her work in forestry and education, and her faith. Though she often writes and speaks about her adventures, Upwards is Chandler’s first book.