Title: Into The Wild
Author: John Krakauer
Published Date: January 20th, 1997
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography, Adventure/Travel
Rating: 3 Stars
This was the Non-Fiction read for the It’s Not Just A Book Club.
Synopsis (From Goodreads)
In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a party of moose hunters. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.
Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.
I was really excited to read this book. I had really only vaguely knew the story of Chris McCandless, and what I did know was heartbreaking! As an avid hiker and backpacker this wasn’t an easy story to read. The biggest challenge had been stopping and remembering these things happen even to the best and most experienced hikers. Mistakes happen, and unfortunately, in Nature, those mistakes have dire consequences.
It’s hard to say how I feel about Chris. I was, in turns; horrified, annoyed, baffled, and awed. Chris was a confusing soup of mixed emotions. He had grand ideas, little patience, and an unhealthy dose of narcissism. He greatly despised people in general, but at the same time felt a deep need for companionship. He could not suffer fools, but his idea of what was foolish could, and did, change at the drop of a hat.
After two years of trekking across America and surviving on little food and his wits, he deemed; perhaps wrongly, that he was now capable of surviving a trip into the deep back country of Alaska. I have to say that though the idea of going backpacking into the wilds of Alaska with no supplies and amateur knowledge of hunting is extremely foolish. However, Chris really was very smart. As the author chronicled his last few months in the Alaskan Wilderness, I would say he pretty much had it all under control. There were of course a few blunders, but he learned and did better the next time.
What ultimately caused the death of Chris McCandless was an unfortunate series of happenstance. Yes, if he had researched just a little more he would have known that there were ways to get back to Fairbanks.
Regardless of how I feel about McCandless as a person I really admire his gumption. To have gone after his dreams no matter the consequences, was pretty admirable. Starvation is not a pretty way to die. My heart breaks at the thought of Chris in those last few months, and it also breaks for his family; who really got the worst blow of this whole scenario.