By Michael Finkel
People spend their lives in cities or in the country virtually all have a roof over their head. Christopher Knight chose something different. At age 20 he left his home in Massachusetts and drove to Maine. He went into the forest and did not have any human contact for almost 30 years. He had taught himself some survival techniques but mostly learned through the processes he lived through. He lived mainly in a tent where of course the winters were very cold and harsh.
He had no food and lived off the land. Sometimes he broke into area houses for food, clothing, reading material and whatever he could find. He said he only took what he needed but it was a frighting experience for the communities and it finally lead to his capture.
He was interviewed and the material for this book came from those notes. His life is detailed in this book as are some of the reasons he chose to leave. Problems in returning were also discussed.
Henry David Thoreau's book, Walden; Or Life in the Woods
Thoreau's experience in the woods was very different than Christopher Knights. As you read in his book "Walden" you find the experiences almost surreal. They were harsh but nature seemed to accommodate him. The experience and his efffort was what seemed to be a form of religion. He likely learned a lot as he went through the experience but before ever going into the woods he was a naturalist, essayist, and early environmentalist.
He said of this time in his life to the world that he:
wished to "live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and … learn what it had to teach."
He actually wound up building a cabin on the shores of Walden Pond — on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson — outside Concord, Massachusetts. He said of that time that he observed nature, farmed, built fences, surveyed, and wrote in his journal.
These two books both spoke of confronting nature but they couldn't be more different.