The Best of Maine Wilderness Experiences!


Why am I writing this blog? Well, I have personally experienced Kevin and Polly’s “wilderness excursions” and it was perhaps one of the most memorable, most introspectively-satisfying and mind-relaxing interludes… I have done in a long time!

We all have “roots” and we all long for “wings”… wings to carry us to the essence of who we truly are – or want to be. I guarantee you that doing a wilderness trip with Kevin or Polly will adjust your lifestyle focus to be more “meaningful.” It’s worth far more than an expensive visit to a psychiatrist!

Mahoosuc Guide Service is a small family-run business with over twenty years of experience! All of their trips are owner-guided and many of their clients are frequently-returning “friends.” Polly and Kevin are professional year-round Maine guides, equally comfortable poling a canoe up the Allagash or driving a dog team across the sea ice of Hudson Bay.

Mahoosuc is unique in that they make much of the equipment that they use on their guided trips, such as cedar canvas canoes, ash dog sleds and maple paddles. I have one of Kevin’s signed custom canoe paddles that he made for me… which I cherish. Their traditional equipment and materials are durable, functional and in many ways preferable to today’s high technology outdoor equipment. The craftsmanship that goes into their equipment is an extension of the care that they put into each of their trips.  Everyone is amazed at how comfortable and enjoyable they make their wilderness experiences… regardless of the weather. They regularly travel extensively in the north – the homeland of the Cree and Inuit Indians. Many of the techniques they use for north woods of Maine and tundra travel were developed by the ancestral ingenuity of these people. Mahoosuc Guide Service offers a wide variety of activities for all seasons and all levels of experience. Their trips are not a test of endurance!  Although they travel a satisfying distance each day, ample time is available for natural history, exploring and relaxing. Group size is normally small, four to eight, to insure a quality experience and to accommodate individual interests.

They believe strongly in the intrinsic value of “wilderness experiences!” Their philosophy of guiding is to respect and accept the wilderness; not to compete against it! They provide their trippers with the opportunity to introspectively-learn about themselves while learning new skills and to become rejuvenated by enhaling life in more elemental terms.  Many choose to integrate a dedicated preference for ongoing “wilderness experiences” after their wilderness experience… within their annual agenda of rejuvenating activities.

Polly and Kevin have been discovered and featured in many notable periodicals such as Cross Country Skier, Mushing, Canoe, Canadian Geographic, Down East, a film for the National Geographic Explorers Journal and PBS “Made in Maine.”  However, as interest in their trips increases they remain committed to staying small, personal, professional and owner-guided.

Mahoosuc Guide Service is located in the Bear River Valley just north of Bethel, Maine. Their farm and guest Lodge in the Mahoosuc Mountains affords easy access to the wildest areas of Maine, New Hampshire and Canada. Contact them with your ideas and needs at (207) 824-2073 or email them at Their website is

Both Polly and Kevin are Master Maine Guides, the highest level recognized by the State of Maine, with 30 and 40 years’ experience …each. As of 2013 they will have been in their business for 24 years. Guiding is all they do – it is not a part time hobby. All of their trips are owner-guided. Either Polly or Kevin is on each of their trips. Their kennel is one of the few where every dog is personally raised from puppyhood. They take extremely good care of their dogs. The dogs get a summer vacation, full vet care, pastures to play in in the off season and retirement to Polly and Kevin’s house.

Kevin Slater

An active guide for 25 years. He has traveled extensively in the north by canoe and dog team with Natives. This has provided him with a deep respect and understanding for the people and their culture. Kevin has done numerous canoe expeditions in Maine, Quebec, Labrador and a pioneer descent of the Grand Canyon. He is an excellent teacher and a certified instructor-trainer for the American Canoe Association. Kevin has been a registered Maine Master Guide since 1976. He is a former Program Director for Outward Bound and taught at the University of Maine where he received a Masters of Education degree in 1984. Kevin is a true craftsman who takes great pride in what he produces from his workshop. In his rare moments of free time he enjoys listening to Celtic music and writes occasionally for Mushing magazine.

Polly Mahoney

… a native Mainer with extensive outdoor experience. For ten years she lived a subsistence lifestyle in the bush of the Yukon Territory. Her Yukon huskies were essential to survival. They hauled wood, water, and were the primary transportation in winter. She and her huskies were featured in the movie Never Cry Wolf. Seldom has a musher achieved the degree of friendship, loyalty and obedience from a dog team that Polly has accomplished. She has extensive canoe expedition experience into remote areas of the Yukon and British Columbia. Polly’s soft-spoken manner and patient style go well with the wilderness she works in. She has emergency medical training as a Wilderness First Responder and is a certified Instructor for Outward Bound. Polly is also a registered Maine Master Guide and has attended the Woodswomen Leadership Program.

Their Dogs

Kevin and Polly refer to their dogs as “Yukon Huskies.” Their bloodlines go back to various parts of the Yukon Territories where they were originally bred by Native people to pull toboggans in deep soft snow conditions. They are big, long-legged, very intelligent and extremely devoted. Yukon huskies are not as high strung as racing breeds and because of their size and strength you need fewer (normally five) dogs per team.They have been raising, breeding and training their bloodlines for nearly 30 years! One of the unique features of their dog yard is that they have bred, raised and trained all of the dogs themselves. They believe in providing an excellent quality of life for their hard working huskies. They take one or two on their guided canoe trips and they have three one-acre pens where they run loose and play in during the summer months. Their commitment to their dogs does not stop when they retire from pulling. We have a very active elder retirement community in our house. We take care of our dogs from birth to death. They are part of their family.


Through their own travels in the north they have met and became friends with several Cree and Inuit Indian families. We employ local Native guides on all our Canadian trips. If you are interested in more than just a superficial look at Native culture, go with them. You will leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the culture by living and traveling with Native guides from the area who grew up in eeyoustis (the bush)or nuna (the tundra).

Mahoosuc Guide Service is committed to working with Natives to develop cultural tourism and encourage guiding as a viable career. In addition to consulting with various villages on tourism development they have been instrumental in such initiatives as returning the last Eskimo huskies from Antarctica to the Inuit of Hudson’s Bay and facilitating a guides exchange with Cree who want to start their own guide service.

In addition to their regularly-scheduled Northern trips, they also offer custom trips by canoe and dog team for small groups (4 – 6 clients) to areas that they have traveled extensively through. The country includes the eastern coast of James and Hudson Bay and Baffin Island, Nunavut territory.

I only do these blogs (to share with others) nuggets of incites and information that are truly priceless.  Enjoy.


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