Article: how One Man Survived Alone in the Woods for 27 Years

Article: how One Man Survived Alone in the Woods for 27 Years

– story about Christopher Knight who walked away from society when aged 20
– he quit work & told no one
– he had always been comfortable being alone
– he found interacting with others a source of frustration
– he went as far into the wilderness of Maine as his vehicle would take him
– he then walked away from his car – into the forest – with only a tent & no map or compass
– since time & across all cultures, there have been hermits, recourses, monks, misanthropes, ascetics, anchorites & swamis
– it is generally accepted there are only 3 reasons why people “leave” the world:
1) For religious purposes;
2) Because of a hatred of what the world has become – the belief being that it is only out of retreat, rather than through pursuit – through inaction rather than action – that human beings acquire wisdom; &
3) those who wish to be alone for artistic freedom, scientific insight or deeper self-understanding

– Knight however fitted into none of these categories
– he is unable to explain his actions & had no plan
– his only goal was to get lost… Where he was born – in Maine

– he was content, except with respect to food
– he had no gun or fishing rod, despite being able with both tools
– fruit was not available & berries were only marginal & seasonal
– when he stumbled upon paved roads, he began to eat roadkill… Raw
– he tried to stick to his morals about charity & handouts, but once hungry he found his morals began to erode
– he began stealing food from gardens; however, after spending one night in an unoccupied cabin (& worrying about getting caught), he never slept indoors again for 27 years irrespective of the inclement weather
– he eventually settled in an area more hospitable, & as it happened just 30 miles from his childhood home
– his hobbies began to be revising his systems for survival (construing shelter, treating water, covering his tracks)
– despite being hungry, he wished to be “unconditionally alone”
– however, he decided to steal from homes, cabins etc., to achieve this goal
– he committed 1000 break-ins without being caught – by observing patterns of behaviours of other people
– the ideal time to steal – he discovered – was late at night, mid-week, and best when it was raining – because people stay out of the woods when it is wet
– initially he used the moon as a light source to aid his stealing, but he stopped using it when he thought the police would be trying to apprehend him
– he tried to hide any patterns of his own, but always tried to look clean-shaven & generally clean by wearing fresh clothes so that he would not be as conspicuous if spotted
– he also borrowed canoes to aid his stealing – preferring to “borrow”/not steal because such theft of property would be reported to authorities
– he would “case” the soon to be raided cabin – for hours if need be – because he “enjoys being in the dark”
– the locals began to try to communicate with the thief, but Knight never engaged in correspondence
– then the locals began to upgrade security measures on their cabin – so he took one paying job to learn about security cameras
– despite perfecting his burglary skills, Knight said he felt ashamed & took no pleasure in what he did – knowing it to be wrong
– each cabin raid kept Knight supplied for approx 2 weeks
– he says solitude made him lose his sense of identity rather than help him find one – he considered himself to be almost irrelevant – he said he never felt alone
– Knight was finally arrested while attempting to steal food at a Summer Camp



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