Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chris McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp

Happy Birthday today to Alexander Supertramp.
Christopher Johnson McCandless (12 February 1968 – 18 August 1992) was an American wanderer who died near Denali National Park after hiking alone into the Alaskan wilderness with little food or equipment. Jon Krakauer wrote a book about his life, Into the Wild, in 1996, which inspired an eponymous 2007 film directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch.

After graduating from Emory in 1990, he gave his $25,000 life savings to the charity Oxfam International and began traveling across the country, using the name "Alexander Supertramp".(Krakauer mentions WH Davies Who wrote 'Diary of a Super Tramp' close to a 100 years ago) McCandless made his way through Arizona, California, and South Dakota, where he worked at a grain elevator. McCandless alternated between relatively settled periods, in which he was fairly gregarious and often worked a job, and time spent living with no money and little or no human contact, sometimes foraging successfully for food in the wild. He survived several dangerous trials during these wilderness periods, such as losing his car in a flash flood and canoeing down remote stretches of the Colorado River down to the Gulf of California. McCandless took pride in surviving with a minimum of gear and funds, and generally made little preparation.
The Bus

For years, McCandless had dreamed of an "Alaskan Odyssey": he would live off the land, far away from civilization, and keep a journal describing his physical and spiritual progress as he faced the forces of nature. In April 1992 McCandless successfully hitchhiked to Fairbanks, Alaska. He was last seen alive by James Gallien, who gave him a ride from Fairbanks to the Stampede Trail. Gallien was concerned about "Alex", who had little gear and no experience in the Alaskan bush. Gallien tried to persuade Alex to defer his trip, and even offered to drive him to Anchorage to buy suitable equipment. McCandless refused all assistance except for a pair of rubber boots, two tuna melts, and a bag of corn chips.

1 comment:

Andrew Celentano said...

For a truly inspiring story read Edges of the Earth by Rick Leo. He too battled the Alaska wilderness with few resources, raised a son and still lives to talk about it. We were good friends in college and he did it for all the right motivations.