Great stories about North Woods adventures

Earl Brechlin and his friends have experienced awesome adventures in the north woods. Actually quite a few of their river adventures were scary.

But you will enjoy reading all of the stories in Earl’s new book, Return to Moose River, published by Down East Books. Earl and his friends would get together every year for an outdoor adventure, usually on a remote river, and every 10 years they returned to Maine’s Moose River.

My favorite story was about their harrowing trip down the East Branch of the Penobscot River, starting in Matagamon. Linda and I have kayaked one section of that river, but only one. There are a lot of rock structures in the river and lots of required portages.

Without giving away the whole story, I will tell you one of Earl’s friends came very close to going over the huge waterfall at Grand Pitch where he would’ve died. Earl’s brother did die, of natural causes, on one of their trips on the Moose River.

Earl covers a lot of ground in this book, offering tidbits of history, woods lore, and advice and writing about everything from moose and bears to whoopie pies. Actually he writes about the legislature’s consideration of a bill to make the whoopie pie the state dessert.

I helped with and advocated for that bill, and it was my favorite public hearing of all time. The hearing room was full of whoopie pies, and we were invited to eat them. Unfortunately, the blueberry industry took offense and, long story short, the blueberry pie became the state dessert while whoopie pies were designated the state snack. Yes, success at the legislature sometimes requires compromise.

Earl is a registered Maine guide, a longtime journalist, and active in many initiatives on Mount Desert Island. I’ve enjoyed a number of his previous books. In Return to Moose River, Earl has given us a book that will be enjoyed by all of us who love Maine.

And here’s one more gem from the book: Someone once asked me how much I charge to guide people into the woods. “That’s free,” I explained. “Anyone can get themselves into the woods. You pay me to get you out.”

Well, I have to say, Earl will get you both in and out of the woods in this great book.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.