Travel Book of the Week : Into the Wild
This week (by week, I mean I finished it in a day) I read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. While this may not be your typical travel book and definitely does not have a happy ending, there’s still so much that I, and I believe other travelers, can relate to. When you start reading this book, it’s no secret how it ends but it doesn’t make it any less interesting.
On September 6, 1992, Christopher McCandless’s body was found inside an abandoned bus in Alaska. Between the time McCandless graduates in 1990 and the time is body is found in 1992, he lives the kind of life not many can relate to. After seeing his family at his graduation from Emory, Chris ceased all communication with them, gave away $24,000 meant for law school to charity and started driving across Western United States.
When his beloved car was flooded and he had no way of jumping the battery, he also abandoned it, burned all the cash he had and set out on foot. McCandless stopped using his legal name and went by Alexander Supertramp. After almost two years of hitchhiking, working random jobs, meeting new people, and going on some pretty crazy adventures, McCandless decided he wanted to live off the land in Alaska. In April 28, 1992, McCandless hitchhiked to the Stampede Trail in Alaska and over 100 days later, he died of starvation.
While I, of course, don’t want to follow his footsteps, McCandless’s way of thinking was something to be noted. In a letter he wrote to Franz, one of the friends he made on the road, he said this:
So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
That one quote made the entire book worth reading. It sums up all my feelings from the past several months into one neat paragraph.
Many criticized McCandless by saying he was extremely stupid to enter the Alaskan wilderness so ill-prepared. In reality, he actually succeeded at an amazing feat-surviving in the Alaskan wilderness for over a 100 days with next to no supplies while having to hunt and gather all your food source is not something many can say they’ve done. So, ill-prepared? Yes, I’d agree. But, stupid? Definitely not.
Have you read Into the Wild? How do you feel about McCandless’s brave, while arguably insane, actions?