His name is Christopher Thomas Knight. He was born 1965. He was 20 years old when he disappeared into the woods in Central Maine. He was captured in April 2013 when he was 47. During his 27 years in the woods:
- He never slept inside. He slept only in a tent. An unheated nylon tent. In an area which falls to 20° below zero in the winter.
- He had contact with only one person during the entire time, in the 1990’s. A hiker.
- He never used a shower. Or a toilet.
- He never made one phone call.
- He never drove in a car.
- He never spent any money. (1000+ burglaries provided sustenance)
- He never in his life sent an email or even seen the internet.
When he was asked about Thoreau, who spent two years in the woods at Walden, Knight dismissed him with a single word: “dilettante.” (def: dabbler, amateur, nonprofessional.)
At the very end of each of our visits, I’d always asked him the same question. An essential question: Why did he disappear? He never had a satisfying answer. “I don’t have a reason.” “I can’t explain why.” “Give me more time to think about it.” “It’s a mystery to me, too.” Then he became annoyed: “Why? That question bores me.” But during our final visit, he was more reflective. Isn’t everybody, he said, seeking the same thing in life? Aren’t we all looking for contentment? He was never happy in his youth—not in high school, not with a job, not being around other people. Then he discovered his camp in the woods. “I found a place where I was content,” he said. His own perfect spot. The only place in the world he felt at peace.
This story hasn’t left my consciousness for days. Don’t miss reading the full story at GQ: The Strange Tale of the North Pond Hermit.
Portrait Source: centralmaine.com