How Did Chris Mccandless Go To Into The Wild
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20/20 - Rare TV Show about Chris McCandless (Alexander Supertramp) from Into the Wild
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Drama, Biography, Adventure. Sean Penn. Sep 21, wide. Mar 4, Paramount Pictures. Emile Hirsch Christopher McCandless. William Hurt Walt McCandless. Jena Malone Carine McCandless. He had died inside a rusting bus that served as a makeshift shelter for trappers, dog mushers, and other backcountry visitors. Taped to the door was a note scrawled on a page torn from a novel by Nikolai Gogol:. From a cryptic diary found among his possessions, it appeared that McCandless had been dead for nineteen days. After his body was flown out of the wilderness, an autopsy determined that it weighed sixty-seven pounds and lacked discernible subcutaneous fat.
I speculated that he had inadvertently poisoned himself by eating seeds from a plant commonly called wild potato, known to botanists as Hedysarum alpinum. According to my hypothesis, a toxic alkaloid in the seeds weakened McCandless to such a degree that it became impossible for him to hike out to the highway or hunt effectively, leading to starvation. Because Hedysarum alpinum is described as a nontoxic species in both the scientific literature and in popular books about edible plants, my conjecture was met with no small amount of derision, especially in Alaska.
Most of these detractors believe my book glorifies a senseless death. Why the author did that should be obvious. He wanted to write a story that would sell. The debate over why McCandless perished, and the related question of whether he is worthy of admiration, has been smoldering, and occasionally flaring, for more than two decades now. But last December, a writer named Ronald Hamilton posted a paper on the Internet that brings fascinating new facts to the discussion. On July 14th, he started harvesting and eating Hedysarum alpinum seeds as well.
One of his photos depicts a one-gallon Ziploc bag stuffed with these seeds. When I visited the bus in July, , wild-potato plants were growing everywhere I looked in the surrounding taiga. I filled a one-gallon bag with more than a pound of seeds in less than thirty minutes. By adding potato seeds to the menu, he apparently made the mistake that took him down. After July 30th, his physical condition went to hell, and three weeks later he was dead.
Working on a tight deadline, I researched and wrote an eighty-four-hundred-word piece, published in January, Because the wild potato was universally believed to be safe to eat, in this article I speculated that McCandless had mistakenly consumed the seeds of the wild sweet pea, Hedysarum mackenzii —a plant thought to be toxic, and which is hard to distinguish from Hedysarum alpinum. Others strive for fame and work tirelessly in an attempt to reach that precious place in the limelight. Unfortunately, there's also a third kind of fame — the kind that only happens when you're not around to enjoy it anymore. Out of all the people who have become famous after their death, Christopher McCandless ranks among the strangest. Per Encyclopedia Britannica , McCandless never actively sought social glory and personal fortune.
On the contrary — all he wanted was to travel the country as he wished, seeking solace outside the norms of conventional lifestyle. Despite this — or, rather, because of it — he's easily one of the better-known vagabonds in the history of the United States. McCandless' short life took him from his native California to a great many places, thanks to his self-imposed wandering ways. In , the young man made his way to Alaska, where he started hiking the Stampede Trail. A few months later, he was dead. His strange life and the events that led to his untimely demise have inspired and frustrated a great many people.
Still, regardless of what you think of McCandless and his sad fate, there's no denying that his life, death, and legacy had no shortage of unfortunate events. Let's take a look at the tragic truth of Chris McCandless. The word "wanderlust" means a "strong longing for or impulse toward wandering," per Merriam-Webster. This particular dictionary entry could easily have a picture of Chris McCandless, because the young man was pretty much defined by the term. This is all the more surprising because, according to Encyclopedia Britannica , McCandless' early life seemed like a picture-perfect re-enactment of the proverbial American Dream.
A son of two well-off entrepreneurs, he was very good in school and, to an observer, appeared destined for great things. The father, Walt, drank too much and was prone to violent outbursts. Billie, the mother, could be extremely unsupportive of her kids. There was also the matter that Walt McCandless was still married to his first wife when Carine and Chris were born, and actually led a double life with two different families for some time. Though there was happiness in the McCandless household, this background of family drama and tragedy may very well have affected young Chris' decision to hit the road as soon as he was able to.
Chris McCandless may have lived his school years as a fairly ordinary guy, but as Encyclopedia Britannica tells us, he shrugged away all semblance of tradition and normalcy after he got his bachelor's degree. First, he gave away all the money he had stashed away during college. That's a pretty hefty pile of money to donate to a charity, especially when you consider what the young man did next. Free of money and responsibilities, he left his family, drove away, and took up the identity of Alexander Supertramp. According to " Into the Wild ," McCandless used the name Alexander Supertramp for years on his travels and, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, used it to sign a manifesto in which he described himself as "an extremist, an aesthetic voyager whose home is the road.
But the transition from student to transient wasn't without its difficulties. In the early stages of his journey, his car broke down in Arizona after getting stuck in a flash flood. Undeterred, the young man decided to continue his journey on foot. Per Encyclopedia Britannica , at one point he even navigated the Colorado River all the way to Mexico. Sometimes, McCandless decided to take a long stop before he resumed his travels. He worked in Arizona for a while and spent some time in Salton City, California. His arguably most notorious pit stop was in Carthage, South Dakota, shortly before his canoe escapades on the Colorado River. There, he met a man called Wayne Westerberg, and worked at his grain elevator.
McCandless' relationship with Westerberg proves that he wasn't living completely outside social norms. In fact, the two became good enough friends that before McCandless started his final adventure, he sent Westerberg a postcard that said he intended to go "into the wild.