In December of 2012, in order to do research for my novel The River at Night, I embarked on a nine-day trip to the hinterlands of Northern Maine, the storied Allagash Wilderness which sprawls out over 5,000 square miles of rivers, lakes, and forest. The plan was to interview people who had decided to leave traditional society behind.
I didn’t know a soul up there, so I called the chambers of commerce in towns from Orono to New Sweden to Fort Kent, as far north and west as you can go until the road ends and the forest begins, which is just past a little town called Dickey.
Everyone I spoke to on the phone said: “Well, these folks don’t want to be contacted. That’s why they live off the grid … but I do know someone who knows someone….” Soon, I was able to line up half a dozen interviews with people who had decided to disappear. Armed with a reluctant blessing from my husband and a backpack filled with power bars, warm clothes, and mace, I took off on the twelve-hour drive from my home in Massachusetts.