OK, he wasn't really lost, and he's probably not strictly speaking a lunatic at all, but alliteration imposes its own imperatives on the writing of post titles. At any rate, and for some odd reason, this seems like a timely Flares story.
Last week Christopher Knight, a.k.a. the Long Pond Hermit, was arrested in early April after he was caught stealing supplies from the Pine Tree Camp for disabled children. Knight was a well known, albeit mysterious figure to the locals of Rome Maine where he had camped alone for 27 years. During that time he had committed more than 1,000 petty burglaries to supply himself.
27 years? Seesh, what kind of a weirdo disappears for chunks of time without telling anybody?
Nature photographer Alec Hartman located Knight's camp and has a Flikr stream showing it. From the BDN Maine State article about how Hartman located the camp and his impressions when he found it:
Hartman and his mother, Charlie Hartman, 60, of Vassalboro, went into the woods of Rome at 1 p.m. Saturday in search for the mysterious dwelling.
“He’s a nature photographer, so he walks through the woods all the time,” said Charlie Hartman.
The pair used information from local and national media outlets to determine the approximate location of Knight’s camp. They started out from a friend’s camp, located not far from Pine Tree Camp, and hiked in to Little Pond.
“As we got closer to the pond, I began to get a bit nervous that we may not be allowed to be there since the authorities had been investigating the area so recently,” Alec Hartman wrote Tuesday in an email interview. “But not once did we see any ‘No Trespassing’ signs, and there was never any sign of crime scene tape, or really any sign of life at all.”
They traced the shore of Little Pond before striking into the woods with a GPS in hand.
“We actually found two campsites,” said Charlie Hartman. “We found the second campsite first … it seemed really obvious that it belonged to Christopher Knight, but it hadn’t been used for a very long time.”
The second campsite was a small, makeshift wooden structure with two windows, one at each end. The interior was insulated with styrofoam and blankets, Charlie Hartman recalled.
“The whole thing had fallen apart,” she said. “It was full of leaves and it was in tatters.”
Of the many items sinking into the forest floor around the structure, the Hartmans paid particular attention to a green milk crate from West Lynn Creamery, a Massachusetts company that was purchased in 1998 and now operates as Garelick Farms, according to lynnlegacies.org.
After documenting the location, the pair struck out again in search of the camp that Knight led police officials earlier this month and that was dismantled on April 11, when officials took items out of the woods to be logged as evidence as part of their investigation.
“I began looking for denser tree cover and clumps of evergreens, but it was beginning to seem hopeless — after all, he’d remained hidden there for 27 years without ever being discovered, so the chances of me finding his camp after only a few hours of searching seemed slim,” Alec Hartman said. “My mom was insisting we head back, as it was getting dark and she didn’t expect there was any possibility of finding it any time soon, but I didn’t want to give up just yet and started to get a feeling that we were very close.”
After about three hours of searching, Alec Hartman spied a black garbage bag hanging in a tree about 10 yards from where he stood.
“I’m not sure we would have found it if he hadn’t seen that,” Charlie Hartman said. “And that may have been something that the game wardens or state troopers moved around and left out.”
They were only about a quarter mile from the wooden structure they found, according to their GPS.
“I remember saying ‘we found it!’ and then taking another few steps and coming to the
main campsite itself,” Alec Hartman said.
“Being in this place and exploring it was a very odd experience; both eerie and profound,” he continued. “Someone had lived here in total isolation for nearly three decades, completely undetected, and knowing that made being there feel somewhat surreal.”
“It was very strange being on that site because there were so many touches of the personal there,” Charlie Hartman said, “Like a coat hanger hanging on the limb of a tree or a really old, battered National Geographic next to an old Playboy mashed into the ground.”