‘Into the Wild’ McCandless Pilgrims Descending on Remote Bus

Travel Blog  •  Jim Benning  •  07.01.08 | 5:13 PM ET


Last October we noted that locals in Healy, Alaska, were considering removing the old bus where Christopher McCandless died. They feared that people moved by John Krakauer’s book “Into the Wild” and Sean Penn’s movie adaptation would tramp 22 miles into the wilderness to see the bus, only to wind up in the same kind of trouble McCandless did. Well, the bus is still there—it has long served as a refuge for hunters—and the AP reports that, with temperatures rising, plenty of people are indeed making the trek or inquiring about it.

“The local chamber of commerce has already received a few dozen e-mails from would-be visitors,” the AP reports. What’s more, the owner of the EarthSong Lodge reports seeing hikers—“mostly young men”—headed that way “every couple days.”

Let’s hope they’re all better prepared than McCandless was.


7 Comments for ‘Into the Wild’ McCandless Pilgrims Descending on Remote Bus

Brenda Crank 07.02.08 | 10:42 AM ET

I read the book and thought McCandless was a creep. He basically tortured his family and those people who cared about him with this little adventure. When the movie came out I was hoping beyond all hope he would NOT be made into something mythical, or worse, a hero. I was so aggravated that the movie did exactly what I feared. Now people want to GO to that bus. I’m horrified. I’m told there is a documentary called “The Call of the Wild” that tells the truth and I’m off to Netflix to see if I can get that. I’d love to visit Alaska, but when I finally get there, I’ll NOT be visiting that bus like it’s a shrine.

Marilyn Terrell 07.04.08 | 12:38 AM ET

The McCandless bus story is the single most commented-upon post on our blog:

Cory Zibell 07.16.08 | 5:17 PM ET

Christopher was not a creep. Obviously you have probably had an easy, simple life. No family problems, no internal battles. Obviously he was not a hero, he was a human being. But in the end, it was the kindness he had that made him a great person. Making ethical decisions. He discovered true happiness and truth which is something you can not even fathom. If my parents had issues like that, I would leave them as well. Now go drink your starbucks and go back to your corporate job. I’m off to alaska to see what I can discover from his journals.

Brenda Crank 07.17.08 | 12:04 PM ET

Well, thanks for proving my point.

True happiness and truth? You do realize he died a very ugly death. The movie romanticized it, but tell me, do you know what Christopher weighed when he died? Do you realize he was devouring his own muscle tissue from within.

Go to Alaska. I’d like to go there myself one day. But before you go, at least bother to LEARN enough about survival to not make the ridiculous choices Christopher made in his anti-parent rebellion. He wasted his life. He didn’t discover truth and peace, he tortured himself to death with his own stupidity and brought endless pain to his family and friends who loved him. We can definitely learn from him, but not by painting him as some sort of hero when he was really just a messed up kid who blew his chance at life by walking into something he had no real knowledge of.

I’m sorry you think that anyone who doesn’t appreciate the fairy tale of McCandless and the bus is automatically a shallow person, free from real world problems. I think if you took the time to look deeper at someone like me, you might find someone who FACED their issues to rise above their problems and to make a contribution to this world rather than running off whining to die alone because of their foolishness.

Natalie 07.31.08 | 2:23 PM ET

I understand your point.
Perhaps you could look at this from a more sympathetic perspective.
I agree that people should not romanticize the tragic results of Chris’ choices while he lived.
However, is it possible that his choices were based on perceptions very real to Chris?
He was a well-read, intelligent young man, by all accounts.
Is it possible that he inadvertently put himself into a potentially lethal position by packing bare necessities (excluding a map and compass, which most individuals might pack)? In other words, is it possible he was very aware of the risks and made the choice anyway (to hike so far in solitude)?
I hear your anger and frustration at people who may “idolize” him.  I don’t believe people are as unintelligent as you imply. I think people “get” what Chris himself was attempting to do.  And that is for no one to judge.  We will never know to what extent Chris suffered emotionally.  Allow people to have their opinion. You are free to express yours.

Brenda Crank 07.31.08 | 3:57 PM ET

Natalie, I understand what you are saying. My rather terse response was to someone assuming my life was all perfect peace and happiness, corporate job, starbucks, etc.

Larry Shelton 08.10.08 | 11:46 AM ET

Having just returned from Alaska with visit to Denali Park, and not seeing the movie until now I wonder why this kid thought he could survive up there with so little supplies.  If he had researched the area at all he would have known the perils. Who knows why he really starved to death.  Could have been a mistaken plant, but more than likely I think he just did not have any idea what he was doing in the bush.  Lucky he made it that long.  Not a dumb kid either.  He chose to die this way.  Just a long journey to get there.

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