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Donn Fendler, 12 yr old Scout lost in Maine woods, dies

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At age 90.


July, 1939




Eager to climb, Donn left his father and brothers behind, pushing on with Henry and Fred, when bad weather set in. “Just as we reached the summit, the mist closed in around us and shut off our view of the mountain below,†he said in “Lost on a Mountain in Maine†(1978), an as-told-to account of his adventure written with Joseph B. Egan.


Ignoring the advice of his climbing mates, Donn headed back to rejoin his family. Lashed by rain and disoriented by the enveloping mist, he quickly became lost. And thus began his weeklong odyssey.


Recalling his Boy Scout training, he decided to follow a small stream toward what he hoped would be a camp or town. At night, he curled up between tree roots and covered himself with moss. He ate wild berries. On the second day, tripping as he walked in the stream, he lost his sneakers, which he had tied together and carried over his shoulder.


Not long after, trying to throw his soaked jeans onto a rock in the stream, he misjudged and watched as the water carried them away. “I couldn’t believe it,†he recalled in his book. “My pants were gone." ....


Small stones cut his feet. Near-freezing temperatures at night stiffened his limbs. Mosquitoes, black flies and moose flies bit.


“Somebody ought to do something about those black flies,†Mr. Fendler said in “Lost on a Mountain in Maine.†“They’re terrible — around your forehead, under your hair, in your eyebrows and in the corners of your eyes and in the corners of your mouth, and they get up your nose like dust and make you sneeze, and you keep digging them out of your ears.â€


He prayed. He hallucinated. One day, he heard a plane circling overhead but could not find a clearing to wave at it. Twice he encountered bears, foraging, as he was, for berries. He began to lose strength and hope, before the sight of telephone wires suggested to him that he was on the right track...




Later he made a career in the US Army, earning his Green Beret.


Check out the full story and slide show (showing him in scout uniform with a proper necker).



All scouts should read his book Lost on a Mountain in Maine. or the retelling Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness




Scout Salute and Farewell.

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