So far outside the box you can't even see the box from here.
Follow by Email
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Lessons from the Maine Hermit
For almost 30 years Christopher Knight lived as a hermit in the Maine woods. He did not hunt, fish, garden or practice many wilderness skills. He lived on stolen food and equipment. To remain hidden he never built a fire but relied on a propane stove and stolen propane bottles.
When he was caught in April 2013 the original story about him peaked my interest. The area in Maine where he chose to hide is little different than here in Northern New Hampshire. Survival challenges are pretty much the same.
I used to spend a lot of time alone in the woods, but usually 2-4 days at a time. Once I spent a week in the mountains with no contact with other people. Compared to Mr. Knight, I was only dabbling. Even so, it's possible to get some idea what's necessary for survival.
Theoretically, it's possible to move out into the woods and start living exactly the way the Maine hermit did. With a little planning, it would be possible to stockpile food and supplies and never have to take the risk of stealing. Part of the reason the hermit was able to stay undetected so long is that he had a very tiny footprint. His camp was small and hidden. By not trying to live off the land he was able to limit his movements. Game wardens are always on the lookout for people hunting or fishing in violation of the laws. Gardens take up space, allowing more chance of discovery from people on the ground or aircraft. His big risky behavior was his stealing -about 40 break ins per year. However, that averages to less than once a week. It could not have been too risky as he was able to do it for almost 30 years.
There were a couple guys who lived in the woods here in Northern New Hampshire, but they weren't exactly hermits. One young guy lived in a simple lean to in the hills. He made money as a trapper. Occasionally he'd come out of the hills to visit friends and drink at the bars. The guy loved his booze. Sadly, he died young from cancer. Another guy was a Vietnam Vet who could only sleep comfortably in the woods. He had a couple of simple shelters hidden in dense forest. Once I stumbled across one of them. It was a low log cabin, about 6 X 8 feet with just a door. He wasn't there at the time. I quietly left, making sure to leave no trace of my visit. The guy would hike into town fairly often. He'd go to the library to read the newspapers then disappear back into the woods.
My dad used to have a hunting camp 9 miles up a dirt road. His camp sat about ¼ mile off the main road. While not isolated in these days of 4X4 vehicles and snowmobiles, it was pretty remote. The cabin was a simple 16 X 16 foot structure. It had a bunk bed, a single bed, a woodstove, propane stove and two propane lights. There was no running water and it had an outhouse out back. This cabin, simple as it was, provided a lot more comfort than Knight's tent. Thanks to the woodstove winter nights were fairly comfortable. I could have survived there for a long long time -without having to rob anyone either.
Christopher Knight's skill set was a mixed bag. He had stealth and the mental mind set to survive uncaught for a long long time. However, he only survived because he had a functioning civilization to plunder. Had those camps not been full of supplies, refreshed on a regular basis, his strategy would not have worked.
Over and over I hear people say that in a collapse they'll just run off and live in the woods. Yes, it can be done, but it's not easy. How many people who say that have never spent any time alone trying to stay undetected? Darn few. If that's your plan, fine. Take a two week vacation and disappear like Christopher Knight for a short while. See how that goes. Then tell me if it's a good plan or not.
I live in an area of NH known as the Great North Woods. I'm in my dome-i-cile out in the county with my lovely wife and a varying number of family and friends
-part red neck, part hippie but all country. Experimenting and enjoying the adventure of life.