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Lost on a Mountain in Maine by Donn Fendler/Joseph B Egan

June 28, 2010

Well, if you are looking for a dose of reality after My Side of the Mountain or Swiss Family Robinson, this story will more than suffice! It’s the true life account of 12 year old Donn Fendler who gets separated from his hiking companions climbing Mount Katahdin in Maine.

Donn unknowingly goes down the back side of the mountain, completely missing his father and hiking companions on the trail. A fierce storm blows in that night and his trail is lost. Search teams hunt unsuccessfully for Donn for two weeks. In that time Donn is subjected to serious hardship. He is completely unprepared for staying out in the wild and makes many mistakes. At one point he even loses his pants and shoes. He admits to crying out of frustration, loneliness and desperation. He often prays to God for his parents and for food.

Donn subsists on wild berries and it seems only his determination to put one foot in front of the other keeps him alive. At one point the physical and mental stress causes him to hallucinate. It is a touching and real account of a boy who perseveres by sheer mental determination. No wonderful accounts of successful hunting or trapping here. He is completely lost and simply keeps going, eventually coming out of the forest at someone’s home.


Donn’s hallucinations are strange and a little frightening. He sees transient forms he recognizes as people he knows, but he also sees apparitions of unknown origin. One of which has the power to ‘hypnotize’ Donn. Footnotes in the book explain that these hallucinations are due to dehydration, hypothermia (well documented cause of hallucinations), fatigue and mental duress.

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