A Long Way to Walk by Norman Kalloch is subtitled One Families Tragic Journey Through the Maine Wilderness, but it is much more than that. This story is so gripping that I read the book in a 24-hour period.
In September of 1783, Robert Forbes, his wife Mary, and their four children emigrated from England to Québec but were unable to find housing or jobs there and decided to hike all the way to Maine to farm with Robert’s brother.
Nine years earlier Benedict Arnold hiked through the Maine north woods in a punishing trip in which many soldiers died. Amazingly the Forbes family decided to take the same route going south where Arnold went north.
And that route was more than punishing for the Forbes family. As their food ran out, and Mary and their three daughters got very weak, Robert and his son Morgan were forced to leave Mary and the girls and continue hiking to find food and people who could come back and rescue his family.
Sadly, Robert and Morgan got lost and by the time they reached civilization and returned to rescue their family two of the daughters had died.
Kalloch’s version of their journey is a fictionalized account, but very much based on their actual experience.
Kalloch retired after 34 year career in natural resource conservation and he and his wife spend nine months of the year living off the grid at West Carry Pond in Somerset County, enjoying all that the Bigelow Mountain region has to offer. He must have put a lot of time into this book because it truly is extraordinary.