A new genre of adventure writing:
Social Kayaking!

Rivers must have been the guides which conducted the footsteps of the first travelers. They are the constant lure, when they flow by our doors, to distant enterprise and adventure....
Henry David Thoreau
A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849)

For nearly two decades, Jim Payne has been making long-distance kayak voyages on waterways around the world. Calling himself a “social kayaker,” Payne engages with the people and history of the places he visits. His first book, One Inch above the Water (2008) recounts eight voyages on major U.S. waterways, Discovering England (2011), his second book, details his trip down the River Thames, and Worlds to Discover (2015), his third book, describes four more humorous, life-affirming kayak adventures. Now, with the publication of Chasing Thoreau, Professor Payne gives fans a new genre of travel adventure that blends historic and present-day voyages, resulting in an engaging tale of culture, history, philosophy, and exploration.

As with all kayak journeys, Payne shares the challenges of the voyage, from confronting a British Redcoat soldier at Concord Bridge, to fighting his way up rapids on the Merrimack River, to the explorations and discoveries of retracing Thoreau's rowboat trip. His stories of impressive survival instincts - and luck, as Payne admits - go far beyond the water and extend into the communities and cultures he meets along the way.

Payne faces plenty of nautical challenges on his expeditions, but his goal is to connect with the people, places and history of the New England that Thoreau knew. Payne shares insightful commentary and reflections upon Thoreau's time when, for example:

  • In Nashua, New Hampshire, he unexpectedly comes ashore at a suburban development named "Thoreau's Landing," where Thoreau stopped on his own trip 175 years before
  • In Lowell, Massachusetts, Payne explores the thundering textile mills, mills that Thoreau deplored for their dehumanizing stress on people and landscape
  • and-a little embarrassed-he swims in his underwear in Walden Pond (what happens in Walden Pond stays in Walden Pond!)
  • A kayaker in his mid-70s, Payne shows that age is no barrier to adventure. “There’s an amazing world out there waiting to be discovered,” he says. “Sure, we all have limitations, but make use of whatever strengths you have and take some risks: the rewards will surprise you!”

    Publication details:

    Chasing Thoreau: An Adventure in Paddling and Philosophy
    Author: Jim Payne
    Paperback 112 pages
    Illustrations: 1 map; 1 experiment
    Publication date: April 10, 2017
    ISBN: 978-0-915728-26-8
    Library of Congress PCN: 2015911284
    List price: $9.95
    Websites: www.ChasingThoreau.com,