North Pond Hermit

Christopher KnightMeet Christopher Knight. He disappeared in the wilderness of Maine 27 years ago as a 20 year old. And he just came back out.

Well, perhaps that will give you the wrong idea. He has been living alone in the woods all these years, but he would go to one of the 300 camps around North Pond and steal the supplies that he needed: mostly food, but also clothes, propane, batteries. Finally, the police caught him last Thursday according to the Morning Sentinel.

Knight is a fascinating man. He isn’t mentally ill, and by all accounts he seems to be very intelligent and well spoken. Why he decided to become a hermit 27 years ago is a mystery even to him. He says he was always interested in hermits and loved the book Robinson Crusoe. I figure it is like all of us: you start doing something (like being married or writing a blog) and you just stay with it until there is a really compelling reason to stop.

For years and years, Knight was something of a legend. No one really knew if the North Pond Hermit was a real thing or not. But now that he’s been captured, the story is more amazing than the myth. One detail of his capture that struck me: he was clean shaven with short hair and in clean cloths. If you go to the Sentinel story, you can see many pictures of his campground. He has clothes lines, a tent, even a makeshift shower.

You really should go over and read the whole story. I was riveted. And what’s more, I don’t see how this story doesn’t manage to go viral. It’s just too great.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “North Pond Hermit

  1. What a tale. I thought the guy MUST have been nuts (how would he spend his time?) until the Sentinel article mentioned that he read constantly; "whatever I could steal." Well, if he had books, he had something to do.

    The oddest thing about it, as you observe, is that it really isn’t all that odd. We all suffer from inertia, at least in some aspects of our lives. (I remember a fake "Onion" pie chart from years back listing "How We Say I Don’t Love You Anymore", and the largest slice was given to "Staying Married For The Next 30 Years.")

    It’s almost like human beings are programmed to be creative when we have to (whether that creativity results in a good solution to problems is a 50/50 proposition, at best) and sedentary when we can. It’s what makes history so interesting. Things and trends go on and on and on and then, pop! They don’t. While the trigger for change is almost always dumb blind luck (like our responses to it.)

    I think there’s some deeper metaphor about our condition to be gleaned from this but I can’t imagine what it is, as it’s easier for me to just rant instead of think — and hey, why not do what’s familiar.

    Kudos to Maine for setting bail at $5000, this guy is a threat to absolutely nobody. And I hope he writes an autobiography!

  2. Not a mention on the stupid CNN site I am too lazy to avoid. The only reason I knew anything about it was that this morning I saw this in the Doonesbury "Say What?" section:

    "He passed somebody on a trail and just exchanged a common greeting of hello and that was the only conversation or human contact he’s had since he went into the woods in 1986."

    —Maine state trooper Diane Vance, after questioning of legendary "North Pond Hermit" Christopher Knight, arrested at his remote camp for stealing food and supplies

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