In the technology and digital age, being removed from the rest of humanity is difficult. We need each other for a variety of necessities and doing any sort of job without some technology involved is nearly impossible for those in the United States. But there’s one man who went close to thirty years without technology or even speaking to another person – the North Pond Hermit.
Christopher Knight was around 20 years old when he walked into the central Maine woods and decided to not come out. It was around 1986 and he had a tent with him. To survive, he still relied on others by breaking into nearby camps and cabins and stealing the things he needed. But he was so great at covering his tracks that no one was sure that he actually existed. Many locals were sure that there were break ins happening – things like batteries from flashlights and food were going missing but no one could catch Knight in the act.
Knight estimates he must have done over a thousand break ins over the decades and estimated that he did around forty each year. The locals dubbed him the North Pond Hermit (because he was living on the shores of North Pond in Central Maine) and he quickly became more of a myth and legend than an actual person. He did his best to avoid any sort of human contact and was exceptionally great at it – in the 27 years that he was in the woods, Knight only saw and said hi to one nearby hiker.
Hermits have long been a part of society – they’ve long existed before Knight decided to spend his time in the woods and odds are that he won’t be the last. Knight reportedly never thought himself as a hermit and in a sense, he wasn’t a complete hermit. He frequently stole books and handheld video games to pass the time, bringing part of society with him to his campsite.
Knight was eventually arrest in 2013 after finally being caught during a break in. He wrote to one journalist that his relatively brief time in jail was an uncomfortable shock to him. Even with the harsh, cold winters of central Maine, he preferred the quiet solitude that being in the woods offered him. Knight has since been put on probation and has been living with family.
The North Pond Hermit was a myth and legend within Central Maine – many of the locals noticed weird things happening and things going missing but it was never quite enough to suggest that an actual person was living in the woods. But this story and real life man only seem to prove the phrase that fact is stranger than fiction.
And that is the story of the North Pond Hermit.
Sources and to learn more
- The Strange & Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit – Michael Finkel, GQ
- Lessons of the Hermit – Nathaniel Rich, The Atlantic
- The Quick 10: 10 Hermits – Stacy Conradt, Mental Floss
- Missing in National Parks – Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know, How Stuff Works
- North Pond Hermit finishes court program in Maine – Boston Globe