Leave a Comment
It's not uncommon for fans to make their own pilgrimage to places where their favorite films were shot, or inspired. However, when that place is in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, it doesn't always go well. A couple of hikers tried to make it out to the real-life location that inspired the book and movie, Into the Wild. Nine days later, they have been recovered in good condition by search and rescue teams.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the hikers, Michael Trigg of South Carolina and Theodore Aslund of Atlanta, left on June 20th to go in search of the bus that Christopher McCandless called home for four months. While they apparently did reach the bus without issue, the pair reportedly were trying to take a shortcut through Denali National Park when they realized they were running late, which is when they got lost. Luckily, the hikers had prepared for the possibility, asking friends to alert authorities if they had not returned by last Friday. When that's exactly what happened, rangers were notified.
In 1992, Christopher McCandless separated himself from his friends and family and hiked into the wilderness of Alaska with plans to live simply off the land. While the time did not end well for McCandless, he was found dead four months later, the experience became the inspiration for a 1997 book, Into the Wild, which in turn inspired a film directed by Sean Penn in 2007. Ever since then, the abandoned bus, which McCandless used as a shelter, has been a destination for interested parties. It's still sitting in the exact same place it was back then.
These two are hardly the first to have rescue parties searching for them on a quest for the Into the Wild bus. I was recently in Alaska myself and heard multiple stories, mostly from angry natives, about people getting lost en route to the bus. It seems to happen every year that at least one party gets lost. There's an ongoing debate in the Anchorage area about whether or not to have the bus removed in order to prevent the fool hearty from getting themselves lost. One person even drowned on her journey. What's not clear is if the bus itself is really the problem. Would people stop making the trip if the landmark didn't exist? It's not clear.
Unfortunately, this means this probably won't be the last story of people needing rescue trying to follow in the footsteps of Chris McCandless. If I can make a personal recommendation: Skip the trip into the wilderness. Instead of making the trip to the bus that McCandless actually used, you can make a trip to the bus that was built for the Into the Wild movie. It's sitting outside the 49th State Brewing Company. It's a much easier trip, and you can have a beer when you're done.