Friday, February 25, 2011

Alexander Supertramp: "I Now Walk Into The Wild"

Alexander Supertramp was the alter ego nickname that Christoper McCandless gave himself that fateful summer he took off for Alaska.

Chris would have turned 43 on February 12, but sadly died of starvation when he was just 24 years old. We're sorry we missed his actual birthday, so we are doing this post today in memoriam.

Chris is the subject of the awesome book "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer and the movie of the same title, directed by Sean Penn.

From the website:

"Shortly after graduation, he gave the remaining money from his education fund to Oxfam. The cheque written by Chris on 15th May 1990, totalled $24,000. He then left quietly from home to begin his adventures and assumed the name Alexander Supertramp of which he got from the book The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by William H. Davies from 1908. When asked by someone where his family were, he would reply that he didn't have a family anymore.

He travelled through various states of America in his car (which he left after it was caught in a flash flood) and by train, hiking, canoeing and of course walking. The challenge to himself was to travel with the least amount of belongings as possible and as little money as possible. He had no map and no agenda, just the will to travel.

His dream was the Alaskan adventure and he would tell this to those he met along the way. Some people he worked for on odd jobs would try to convince him to stay and some would insist on giving him supplies to help with the journey. He seldom accepted.

He reached his final destination on April 28, 1992 in Fairbanks Alaska.

Four months later he would perish from a combination of errors and his body was found in an abandoned old Fairbanks City Transit Bus numbered 142 which was located on the Stampede Trail.

He kept a journal along the way and took self portraits now and then. His final self portrait was a picture of him holding a farewell note in his left hand and waving with his right hand. He was but 30kg in weight and eventually died of starvation and possibly poisoning from fungus on some fruit he had eaten."

What makes Chris's story so heartbreaking was that he gave away his money to charity (ironically a food bank) and took off on an adventure.

He thought he would be safe in Alaska. The errors he made weren't many but they were HUGE.

First, he crossed over what was a small stream in the spring, when he tried to cross back over a few weeks later, the small stream had morphed from spring rains into a raging river almost a mile wide. He was forced to turn back to his bus.

Secondly, the food situation. One of the first things he did was go hunting. He shot and killed a moose. At first, he was elated to have provided for himself. Then he was shocked and saddened to realize he had no way to preserve the meat. It rotted away in huge clumps. This depressed him because he had killed a beautiful creature for nothing. He decided to only kill smaller animals and eat plants to get him through. He had a guide book that he thought would be useful. Almost at the point of starvation, he finally found plants he thought were okay to eat, but it turned out to be too early in summer for them, they hadn't matured and the plant was poisonous. He was weakened to the point where he could not leave the bus to hunt or get water and he starved to death.

We were always touched by Chris's story. He had the fortitude to give up everything and try to live FREE.

We're not the only ones...Chris is now a legend and will forever live the wild.

Here is a letter found years later on Bus #142. A letter for Chris.

Click to enlarge.

"The Magic Bus" has taken on a life if its own. From the website:

"The Stampede Trail to Bus 142 is becoming a more popular hiking destination these days. Virtually unheard of, to anyone outside the state of Alaska before Krakauer’s article in Outside Magazine, the trail has seen a vast increase in traffic since the release of Sean Penn’s film in 2007.

The story of Christopher McCandless, restless and footloose, stirs within many of us a hunger for adventure that is hard to quiet. I can’t begin to recall how many times I’ve heard, “Oh Man! I read that book! I really want to get out to that bus someday!” or “That movie was really great. I really want to see the bus.” The desire to see the bus, is often equated (in the minds of many Alaskans) to some kind of worship of Chris, or a celebration of naiveté. I feel this is an unfair characterization. For me, the desire to see the bus was rooted in my will to better understand his story.

Please visit that website for all the info you need to get to Denali National Park and the pilgramage to Bus #142 of the Fairbanks City Transit System, Chris's final home...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its ashame more guys arn't like Chris was!! He obviously was a nice guy and couldn't deal with the corrupt world with the ease others do. I am sure he has now found the freedom and peace he was looking for just not the way he thought it would happen. God Bless you Chris and Happy Birthday Alexander Supertramp!!