Thursday, April 11, 2013
Twenty-Seven Years in the Woods
"He said he just came into the woods one day in 1986," [Maine State Police Trooper Diane] Perkins-Vance said. "He claims he hadn't had a conversation with another human being since the mid-1990s, when he encountered someone on a trail. I was the first person he talked to since the 1990s."Apart from the thefts, I find much to admire in Knight's story. Ever since I was a small boy, I have dreamed of doing something similar.
Knight went to great lengths to make the camp invisible from the ground and the air, even covering a yellow shovel with a black bag. Knight never had a fire, even on the coldest days, for fear of being detected. He covered shiny surfaces, like his metal trash cans, with moss and dirt and painted green a clear plastic sheet over his tent.
The campsite is neat and orderly — remarkably civilized for someone who tried so desperately to avoid civilization. Knight even set up mouse traps inside his tents to keep the critters from eating his food.
Clothes hung for drying on rope stretched between trees immediately outside the tent. Nearby, Knight had erected a makeshift shower well hidden behind a small growth of fir trees.
There were no permanent structures — nothing was nailed down. The dirt was worn in the area, but otherwise there were no permanent reminders of a life lived in the space.
Knight said he spent his days at camp reading and meditating.
"I asked him, 'What kind of books do you read?'" [Sgt. Terry] Hughes [of the Maine Warden Service] said. "He said, 'Whatever I can steal.'"
Knight, who shaves without a mirror, said he has caught only glimpses of his reflection in pools of water.
"He hasn't seen himself in the mirror for well over 20 years," Hughes said. "It's a very unusual situation."
Knight said he never got sick in those 27 years because he never had contact with any people, Hughes said. Knight managed to avoid significant injuries, such as broken bones, despite traipsing through the woods at night.
Hat tip: Jim K.