Man Survived Alone in the Wilderness of Maine for 27 Years by Stealing from Lakeside Cabins

March 15th, 2017

How did this go on for so long? I don’t accept that Knight’s experience with alarm installation explains it.

I wonder if the situation became like placing a saucer of milk outside for a stray cat?

Did people like the idea of this guy living out there without a job or other commitments so much that they, consciously or not, allowed themselves to be robbed like this for decades?

I don’t know. All I know is that I started reading this piece and somehow kept reading through to the end. I don’t find Christopher Knight’s story particularly interesting. Spoiler alert: He’s a bum who stole fossil fuels and food to survive. Yes, he was damn good at it! However, I’m much more interested in learning more about why the victims allowed this to go on for close to three decades.

I’m thinking that self loathing of the 9 to 5 lifestyle has to be a part of the explanation. The temporary residents spend mini vacations in the cabins, while probably dreading a return to the office on Monday morning. Maybe they lived vicariously through Knight’s antics?

Whatever the case may be, this is a weird one on multiple levels.

Via: Guardian:

At the age of 20, Christopher Knight parked his car on a remote trail in Maine and walked away with only the most basic supplies. He had no plan. His chief motivation was to avoid contact with people.

Book: The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel

2 Responses to “Man Survived Alone in the Wilderness of Maine for 27 Years by Stealing from Lakeside Cabins”

  1. pookie Says:

    I, too, avoid face-to-face social contact, wish I could turn down almost all social invitations, and am content for WEEKS (and wish it were months) not having contact with other human beans other than an email here or there (but pets are FINE). People are mostly stupid, disappointing, lazy, ill-mannered, and tiresome, and I have very little in common with the vast majority of the buggers (and approx. 75% are mondo-annoying extroverts who canNOT keep their yaps shut, damn it all).

    So, yes, this guy’s little hermitage looks sweet to me, although I would not have chosen to bug out to an area of such cold, wet winters. And, yes, the stealing is the pitfall. The hermits who can live completely off the land (and if on private property, with permission of the owner), sustainably, with no harm to other “beans,” are the ones to be admired.

  2. Kevin Says:

    A Cryptogon reader sent in this comment via email:

    I live in Maine near the woods and can give you some possible reasons why nobody would have gone looking for a petty thief like Mr Knight.

    People with woods camps don’t live in them year ‘round but visit them periodically. A thief can watch to see what times of year the place is usually vacant and plan to rob it then. If he is careful to leave no sign of his entry, nobody would know that someone had got in.

    Some camps are near each other, but others are quite isolated.

    There is a tradition of leaving camps unlocked and with some firewood (or bottled gas?) and a little food (dry or canned) on hand in case someone who is lost, injured, out of food, cold, or seeking shelter from a storm stumbles upon the camp and needs the emergency supplies. In the past, the forest ranger’s cabins were officially designated as places one could find refuge, whether or not the ranger was home, though their cabins are few and far between. This practice saved lives. The northwest Maine woods cover an area bigger than Delaware. There are miles of woods with no roads or trails; waterways are flooded in the Spring and not necessarily frozen hard in all places (so you can walk on them) in the winter; winter temps hit -35 F — so, just walking or canoeing to safety is sometimes not an option for someone caught outdoors without adequate supplies of their own. And a lot of vacationers just don’t get it that they need adequate supplies when they go wandering around the woods and streams.

    Some newcomers usually lock everything up, but old-timers sometimes do things the old way. And few people bother to really lock everything up and to block all means of entrance — too expensive to set up and too standoffish (as in, tough luck if you need help sometime, because you can’t touch my stuff when I’m not there), or paranoid-looking.

    If a small-enough amount is stolen, the owner might not notice, or might not remember that he had more of the item when he went away (boxes of crackers? gallons of gas?) than he now finds.

    If items are known to be missing, and whomever took them has not left a note explaining their emergency need and with their thanks for the supplies, then that person is assumed to just be a vacationing jerk, not a serious local thief.

    There are few forest rangers. They know the woods well but can’t be everywhere at once. And there are so many jerks wandering around that they don’t expect a small theft to turn out to be serious. The rangers are there to be friendly and assist the vacationers (encourage tourism in Maine) and the loggers (big source of Maine employment), and they try hard to win cooperation rather than catch and punish people who do antisocial things. If they knew Knight was there and that he needed food, they would have tried to help him to secure a legal source of food. But he sounds like the type who would have either pretended to be agreeable and sneaked away, or who would have conned them into thinking he had a legit source or that he was leaving the woods and didn’t need their help.

    I am sure there is more to this story than we know, such as why the rangers got suspicious and how they caught Knight. Also, where was he living that they never ran across him before? Or maybe they did? He must have gotten careless or made a mistake, or robbed a place that had more security, maybe cameras, than he realized, or that belonged to someone who was especially concerned about any possible intrusion and who required an investigation.

    Also, don’t underestimate the knowledge and smarts Knight may have: there are people who can go into the woods with nothing but a knife and the clothes on their backs and get along well enough for quite awhile. There are just very few of them, and even fewer who do it as a way of life rather than a hobby. If the latter are successful, as he was for so long, we never know they exist. And ‘old guy’ doesn’t mean ‘stupid guy’; it could mean tough, resourceful, keenly alert and vastly experienced.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.