Writing about Maine’s outdoors is, as you’d guess, a pretty cool gig, and we’re lucky to be able to do so for a living. Particularly cool is the people you meet while doing that job. Many are just like you and me but have great stories to tell. Others are a bit different. They’re special. And one of the most special, with one of the most amazing stories to tell, is Donn Fendler. Fendler unwittingly became famous 75 years ago, when he became lost on Mount Katahdin. Nine days later, he emerged from the woods. The book about that trip, “Lost on a Mountain in Maine,” has become required reading in Maine elementary schools, and the story never gets old. Fendler is 87 and regularly speaks to various groups about his adventure. Late last week, he and I sat down for a chat that led to a BDN story I was proud to tell.
— John Holyoke
NEWPORT, Maine — Donn Fendler has lived a full life during the 75 years that have elapsed since a state and a country rooted, prayed and prepared to mourn for the boy who had become lost on Maine’s largest mountain.
But as he’s regularly reminded, to many, Fendler is neither a U.S. Army veteran, nor a father, nor a grandfather. Instead, he’s frozen in time — a scared, lost 12-year-old.
“I’m always the little boy,” the 87-year-old Fendler said.
“This is something that has always been occurring, but seems in the last few years it has gotten worse,” Richard Rechholtz, supervisory park ranger at Acadia, said Sunday morning. “Certain places within the park seem to be targets because those stones on those beaches have round rocks that look so inviting.”
“The sun was high in the sky when I left civilization behind and walked into the woods at the foot of Bigelow Mountain for my first night alone in the wilderness. Any small doubts I originally had about the trip were swept away when I reached the beat-up, wooden sign marking the Fire Warden’s Trail — a footpath I’d traced on maps many times. To me, the sign was a small victory, one for which I had waited several years.”
Aron Bishop came across an interesting scene a couple weeks ago: Two Canada lynx were not getting along very well. Luckily, he was able to capture some great video of the incident, and he was willing to share it with BDN readers.
Aislinn Sarnacki headed out for an overnight hike on one of the state’s largest mountains. She likely covered more than 10 miles, slept on a mountain peak, and she shares that journey with our readers.
On the horizon
Ever say something you really wish you hadn’t? Make a guarantee you couldn’t back up? Of course you have. And so has BDN outdoors editor John Holyoke. John told his new boss, Sarah Walker Caron, that he was quite sure he could find her a moose. Her first moose. She was happy. John was happy. Then the pair headed into the woods on their moose safari. John tried. He really tried. Unfortunately, the moose were not willing to participate in the safari. New boss: Good-natured, but not impressed. Rumors of John’s imminent reassignment to the BDN’s new Wytopitlock Arts Bureau could not be confirmed by press time. One thing is certain, however: John will share the Mooseless-in-Millinocket tale later this week. He also will talk to an expert who’ll be able to provide useful moose-spotting tips that will actually work. Stay tuned!
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