The magic bus from 'Into the Wild' has been removed
The coming of age journey into the wilds of Alaska proved too aluring and fatal for more than just Christopher McCandless.
In 1992, Christopher McCandless died in the wilds of Alaska, alone, and inside a former city of Fairbanks bus # 142. After his story was shared by Jon Krakauer with the world, it became part of a pilgrimage for those seeking to pay tribute to McCandless and experience their own coming of age journey in our ever detached world.
Image via Wikipedia upload to thread on the Stampede Trail
The story of McCandless's life as 'Alexander Supertramp' was first chronicled by Jon Krakauer a 1993 article in 'Outside' magazine before being expanded into the 1996 book 'Into the Wild' and finally into the same-named 2007 movie. McCandless spent two years traveling the western United States before finally starving to death off the Stampede Trail in Alaska. His body was found inside bus # 142 where he lived for approximately 3 months. The best hypothesis of his death has attributed it to eating poisonous seeds.
Image courtesy of Alaska Army National Guard via CNN.com
In the years since 'Into the Wild' became a well-known book - translated into over 30 languages - used in high school and college courses, many people have traveled to the bus to pay their respects. McCandless's journey resonated with many young people with themes of enlightenment, finding oneself in society, and living in the wild with minimal possessions.
The 'magic bus' ready to take flight! - Image courtesy of NYTimes and AANG.
I'll admit I found myself yearning for a 'walkabout' after reading the book in college. McCandless left on his journey shortly after college, donated his college fund of nearly $25,000 to Oxfam, and ultimately ditched his 1982 Datsun 210 after a flood. He was penniless and without transportation, yet he succeeded in making it across a great expanse of the US and Canada, all the while making friends along the way.
The first and probably last time the 'Magic Bus' takes flight. - Image courtesy of AANG and CNN.com
For reasons like this, others have decided to take the next step and visit the 'Magic Bus' in the Alaska wilderness. Some even met their end in the same wilderness as McCandless. A couple from Belarus decided to visit the bus last year with the wife being swept away on the same river that kept McCandless from retreating from the wilderness. She was pulled from the river some distance downstream by her husband, but she couldn't be saved.
The temptations of the bus proved to be too much of a risk to the public and led the Alaska Army National Guard to remove it this month. Along with the hiker that died last year, another died in 2010, with an additional 15 people requring rescue over the years. The bus was lifted from its home 25 miles from the nearest highway and has since been stored in a "safe" location. Plans for a permanent display are in the works.