Maine's 'North Pond Hermit' Isolated Himself From Civilization for 27 Years Christopher Thomas Knight was so over the stresses of everyday life that he spent 27 years as a real-life hermit. No one even knew he existed. Until he made one mistake. Camila Villafane Born to Be SocialImage By: UnsplashMost of us couldn’t imagine living a life of reclusion. After all, humans are highly social animals. There are plenty of reasons why one would want to avoid becoming a real-life hermit. So what could’ve make someone like Christopher Thomas Knight want to disappear from society? Perks of Not Being a WallflowerImage By: Jim EvansThe economy is tough, and two incomes are better than one. Especially if you want to afford a nice home. Ao a lot of people rely on roommates or a significant others to afford rent. But you can’t find a roommate if you’re a recluse. Still, there are many advantages to living as a hermit. SolitudeImage By: Unsplash Living a solitary life has some advantages, even though socializing is considered to be healthy. Living as a recluse means you wouldn’t have to wake up to next-door neighbors making noise. Or dealing with traffic, social media, or even that annoying alarm clock. You wake up when you want, if you feel like it, and you live under your own rules. But is this the reason why Knight decided to take off and get lost in the woods for more than three decades? Work When You WantImage By: Danila TkachenkoAs a recluse, you’d only have to worry about your own needs. That means you could even focus on growing your own food, or work on a project that’s been swirling in your head for ages. If you planned it right, you could even lead a cozy life in the woods, where peace and quiet are your only concerns. So was Knight an asocial nut who simply took off because of mental illness, or does he have something to tell us? Natural Born LeaderImage By: Kennebec JournalChristopher Thomas Knight was born in 1965 in Albion, Maine, and had a pretty normal upbringing. But he had a rough time relating to anyone. Despite his social shortcomings, he was extremely intelligent and had lots of potential. Then everything changed. VanishedImage By: Unsplash In 1986, Knight left his life in Massachusetts behind. His need to escape was so strong that he never told his fellow employees or his family members where he was going. But he was just as lost as they were. Path to NowhereImage By: UnsplashKnight had no compass or a map to lead his way. Essentially, he didn’t know where he was going. “I drove until I was nearly out of gas,” he told journalist Michael Finkel. He left his green Subaru and hiked toward the unknown. No ExperienceImage By: UnsplashHe grabbed his backpack and a tent and headed into the forest. But he had no resources. He slept in his tent. He didn’t light a fire, wanting to avoid attracting attention. But he knew he needed more to survive. Breaking InImage By: Maine State Police Knight confessed that he broke into about 40 places a year when he was surviving in the woods. That’s over a thousand break-ins in 27 years. That’s what it took to find food and stay alive. But sustenance wasn’t the only thing he was looking for. Help YourselfImage By: Alex HartmanKnight stole clothes, underwear, propane tanks and kitchenware too. But he never broke into a house unless it was empty. Eventually, he found a more permanent place to call home. Perfect PlaceHe found a place to live that was so far away that no one would ever find him. But he had to steal tarps and other materials to keep his shelter from crumbling, like magazines to soak moisture from the floor. SuspicionImage By: Art Effects Residents of North Pond, Maine, took notice of the break-ins over the years. But they had never managed to catch the real-life hermit in the act. Then the cops got involved and everything changed for Knight, who at that point had been missing for a really long time. North Pond HermitImage By: Pixabay.Area residents installed cameras in their homes to catch the man they called the North Pond Hermit. But as stealthy as Knight had been, he had made an error in judgment that brought the cops closer to cracking the case. Wrong MoveImage By: Portland Press HeraldKnight broke into the Pine Tree Summer Camp, which was full of tools and food, which he desperately needed to get by. But he didn’t realize that the cops were on to him by the time he robbed the place. Hot on His TailImage By: Getty Images The camp was being managed by Terry Hughes, who was a police sergeant. And Hughes pulled out all the stops. He installed floodlights and military-grade motion sensors in the kitchen. He only had to wait for Knight to take the bait. Caught in the ActImage By: Portland Press HeraldHughes swooped in when the alarms started wailing on April 4, 2013. He found a middle-aged man who immediately complied when he told him to get on the ground. The man had no ID, but Hughes wanted some answers. ConfessionImage By: WCSH-TVKnight was questioned for two hours. He opened up to investigators, who were shocked to hear that he had lived in total isolation for 27 years. But this wasn’t his first encounter with a human being. HiImage By: Unsplash In the 1990s, he walked passed a hiker while making his way through the woods. According to GQ, Knight simply replied with a single syllable: “I said, ‘Hi.’” But Knight had really gotten into trouble this time. GuiltyImage By: Portland Press HeraldOn Oct. 28, 2013, Knight pleaded guilty to 13 charges of burglary and theft. But, ironically, he got only a seven-month jail sentence for time already served, plus a suspended sentence. He wasn’t off the hook just yet, though RestitutionImage By: WCSH-TVAside from three years of probation, Knight had to appear before a judge every Monday and pay the people he stole from $1,500. The judge also ordered him to participate in a program for folks with mental problems. Reaching OutImage By: Portland Press Herald Knight didn’t know if his family was still alive or not, but he did his best to reconnect with them. Fortunately, by the time that he was released from jail, his brother was there to give him a job. Book HimImage By: KnopfAmerican journalist Michael Finkel interviewed Knight while he was behind bars, and he discovered some fascinating facts about Knight’s three-decade adventures in the woods. More than 500 journalists had tried to interview Knight, but Finkel was the only one who corresponded with him while he was in jail. Then he used everything Knight shared with him to write a book called “The Stranger in the Woods”. DishonestyImage By: Portland Press HeraldFor many, it felt like Knight simply couldn’t have survived all these years without getting deathly ill or seeing a doctor. But Finkel believes it was his reclusive lifestyle that allowed him to stay clear of germs, because he wasn’t in contact with other people. Water SupplyImage By: Unsplash In his book, Finkel discusses one of Knight’s methods for not freezing to death during the harsh winters. He used to wake up in the middle of the night to walk around the perimeter of his campsite, melting snow to turn into water. So how did he avoid any locals or hikers to realize there was someone living in the woods all these time? Staying SmartImage By: MagnumKnight was very diligent when it came to covering his tracks. He walked only on stones and avoided walking on snow, because he didn’t want to leave a single footprint. And Finkel believes every single word of Knight’s. “The story is hard to believe, but it’s also true,” he told the Morning Sentinel. Knight's ReactionImage By: Portland Press HeraldTo this day, it’s not known if Knight has read the book or if he agrees with everything that’s been shared about him. Still, Finkel made sure to send a copy of it to Knight, and he got the response he expected. “His response was what I expected — nothing,” he told the Morning Sentinel. Something GoodImage By: Portland Press Herald “It is my strong belief that he will respect the book,” Finkel told the Morning Sentinel, but when he was asked if he was planning on sharing the profits with Knight, he responded he had donated more than $2,000 to the Pine Tree Camp, who had been Knight’s last burglary target. Knight SpeaksImage By: Maine State PoliceIn an interview with GQ, Knight discusses what went through his head when he was completely surrounded by nothingness: “Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing — when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free."