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Into the Wild
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Keith Hultman
(helios) - F

Locale: Missouri
the foolishness of time and technology on 03/17/2008 21:29:18 MDT Print View

"The key thing that killed McCandless was his desire to be in the Wild to the extent he did not buy a detailed local Map. ... It was caused by foolishness about not having a great localized map."

I'll agree with that, in as much that having a detailed map could have saved his life. However, so could have a satellite phone. (Sat phones may not have been available in the year our Supertramp made his journey, but that is besides the point)

Neither one of these would have been available to those who first explored the area. I believe that McCandless wished to experience that sense of wilderness exploration. Now that we have maps with details, are we required to take them? Is it foolishness if we don't? The only logical conclusion then is that we are also fools if we don't bring a satellite phone, or other technological breakthrough that comes along.

But many of us choose not to bring a GPS or cell phone. These things were invented during our lifetime, and are easily seen as high-tech extras. Detailed maps, however, are manditory, part of the 10 essentials don't ya know!!! And if you choose to turn back the clock to before the creation of the USGS then you will be viewed as a foolish idiot? Dismissed out of hand? I'm betting this was a very conscious decision by McCandless. Perhaps a decision that cost him his life, but not foolish.

Jim McGuire
(OnThRdaGn) - F
Wild on 03/17/2008 21:31:08 MDT Print View

I think he wasn't really ready for how Wild, Wild is. He had no help when he got really sick and did not have the energy to help him both mentally (alone)and physically to fish or find food, I think he gave up.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Survival on 03/18/2008 01:54:37 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tip off to the book; I haven't heard of that book before and will try to find a copy.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: the foolishness of time and technology on 03/18/2008 03:16:54 MDT Print View

I'm wondering if it is not so much a foolishness in not bringing a map, but the very way that we have come to live our lives where a lot of people feel the need to get away from where we live, if even for a weekend. 200,000 years ago there was no sense of living in civilization or apart from the natural world; there was probably not even a concept of "getting away from it all". The more modern our societies get, the safer everything is, the less directly connected we are to living things and what keeps us alive the more sense of dissatisfaction seems to grow, especially among the youth. We are designed, after all, physically and mentally, socially and spiritually, for the rigors of the natural world.

Ask yourself why it is that so many adventure and fantasy and animation stories and movies always end up in the wild. We must have some innate need for it. That is what must have motivated McCandless, and all of us, for that matter. Just some people take it more seriously than others.

Edited by butuki on 03/18/2008 03:24:31 MDT.

James Horner
(jbob19) - F

Locale: Ontario
small mistakes on 03/18/2008 09:05:37 MDT Print View

There was so many little things that could have saved him, that what makes it tragic, his death was preventable.

The book never mentions aything about fishing but that's cause Chris' journal does not mention it. Remember this whole story is told through a few words written down each day. We do not have a detailed account of what he went through out there. Maybe he tried fishing maybe not nobody knows.

i think his biggest mistake was with the moose. He talked to some redneck deer hunter on how to cure a whole moose by yourself in the wild. The guy had no idea what he was talking about and gave Chris horrible directions. If chris would have just researched that a little more he would've had a couple hundred lbs of meat, plenty to last him a long time.

Also his rifle was way to small for big game, I am in shock that he actually did kill a moose with a .22. In the book it says Chris took a shot at a bear near the end of his life but missed. i'm not so certain he missed, a .22 on a bear ain't going to do squat. I bet he hit the bear but the rifle was way to small and it didn't kill it. If he had a real rifle that's a dead bear and he could have feasted on all that meat. (all speculation of course)

Remember also that this guy lasted over 100 days alone in the wild, that is impressive no matter what. He made a few little mistakes but in the wild that's all it takes.

Reginald Donaldson
(worth) - MLife

Locale: Wind River Range
Fishing on 03/18/2008 15:36:53 MDT Print View

I am not sure if fishing would have made a difference. Subsisting on too lean of meat can result in rabbit starvation!

Dwn Ptrl
(dwnptrl_777) - F

Locale: Midwest
The Book, the soundtrack, and it's impact... on 03/19/2008 05:28:02 MDT Print View

To repeat many here, read the book.

And for what it's worth, I found the soundtrack to be powerful. A few of Vedder's tracks hit me like a stun gun: " Guaranteed" especially.

I've read a lot about the McCandless story since reading the book last fall, and in considering the discussions his story has generated, I think it's foolish to say he died in vain.

Again, read the book. If anything, I'd encourage you to appreciate his passion and spirit...

Edited by dwnptrl_777 on 03/19/2008 05:30:33 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Wild on 03/19/2008 07:06:23 MDT Print View

Everyone acts like people were ok in the wild before modern times. People may have known more about how to survive and live off the land, but the wild still exacted a major toll in terms of loss of life. People dying was the norm.

Having said that, I read the book, won't watch the movie. The most polite thing I could say about the whole situation is (as someone who has always had to fight and earn everything they had achieved) I can't relate. I can romanticize a lot of things, but not this.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Wild on 03/19/2008 08:07:31 MDT Print View

I completly agree with you. Not only did you need a lot of knowlege and experience to live off the land but, it was a lot of hard work! Sometimes in vain. And one would not want to do it alone! Its hard enough as a village.
It is easy to romaticize the hunter/gatherer but when he dreams he dreams of sleeping in a heated house with running water.
Lets not forget that backpacking is the ancestor not of the hunter/gatherer but of 18th century nature tourism and the picnic. And thats not a bad thing, we should appreciate our luck.
We just need to find that balance between civilization and living close to the land.

Dylan Taylor
(nevadas) - F

Locale: California Coast
supertramp was an iconic american on 03/19/2008 10:54:17 MDT Print View

mccandless follows in the steps of so many remarkable americans starting from thoreau, who retreated from society to embrace the wild (see walden), and emerson, to whitman who, like chris, sought authenticity in everyday people and simple life. (see leaves of grass).

his is like john muir who, by todays standards, did crazy things like walk into the sierras alone with only a loaf of bread and scaled peaks without protection (or a windshirt).

he is like, perhaps more than anyone else, jack kerouac who travelled across the country in search of authenticity and identity-- leaving the east coast in search of the "wild" west coast. he is like him in that he too worked seasonal jobs to fund his experiences; he too hopped trains, stayed in shelters, slept outside in sandy washes, shrugged off permits, went hungry, made friends from all different ilks and backgrounds and who, when he moved on, left an indelible mark in the minds and lives of those he met.

what a great legacy, to have artists like krakauer, vedder, penn and many others, tell your story. i mean, there is no such thing as a true history-- history is a retelling of facts from a certain perspective. part of that process is that the teller imbues the facts with some hue from their own life. is the movie, or the book for that matter, a completely accurate version of chris' life? no, but then no history, biography, or (especially) autobiography is.

chris made some serious errors because he was, after all, a rookie mountaineer. the most serious being his failure to cross the run-off laden river when he initally tried to leave. he didnt know that when you come to a river of that magnitude, you can spend an entire day trying to find a route across it. thats basic knowledge.

supertramp is someone to admire for the simple reason that he lived his life on his own terms and ultimately died for those deeply felt personal values. how many people can say that? too few, in my opinion, in our so-called "free" society. he lived the life of an artist who died for his artistic principles. he could of died in that sandy wash; in the sea of cortez by the sudden storm; on the PCT-- his legacy would still be the same. on the other hand, he could of died jumping a train, being stabbed at a shelter over a couple of dollars, or suffocating in those grain silos from carbon dioxide in s dakota-- would his legacy be the same? i dont think so.

at this point, the idea of chris is so much more than his life ever was (at least to people who didnt know him; not like his family or friends--to them, he is still their baby boy, their son, brother, friend, etc., in addition to being an icon). we see him now as another true american who has followed in the steps of so many great americans.

his life should be celebrated. whether it be in film or text. is the movie romanticized? of course! but is it good? yes! the movie focuses solely on the story of chris, rather than the hybrid chris/ krakauer story you get in the book. but they are both great.

salud, chris!

Edited by nevadas on 03/19/2008 12:42:22 MDT.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Finally read Into the Wild on 03/28/2008 10:15:59 MDT Print View

Okay, so this thread convinced me to read Into the Wild, and I'm about half way through now. I've revised some of my thoughts:

First, Brian, well put. Living of the land was, and always has been, very hard work. You can choose to work hard in an office cubicle or choose to work hard foraging. In many ways the modern office worker has more freedoms; the forager must forage, must remain in peak physical shape, etc. The office worker gets money, which is infinitely more flexible; you can pay people to farm for you, to make your clothes, to pay for your healthcare and disability (aka to extend your life beyond your natural limit). If anything, Into the Wild has given me an appreciation for the value of civilization, kind of the opposite effect I was expecting from this book.

Sure, the subsistance forager is out in naure and answers to no boss, but I think one of the Alaskan hunters in the book put it well. He said something to the effect that many people come to Alaska looking to find something, solve heir problems, but mostly they just discover impassable rivers, clouds of mosquitos, and freezing cold. In the DVD Walking the West sold on this website, the narrator makes the statement that when you ask most thru-hikers what they think about on the trail, they think about food. Warm, fresh, civilization food. At each town rest area thru-hikers get to make up for their calorie losses. Those truly living off the land never get to escape the real world of foraging and hunting for long hours--sometimes starving--to find a meal.

The other thing I couldn't help think about was the obvious paradox between his philosophy and lifestyle. He despised American capitalism, yet still managed to survive off the backs of capitalist success. He hitchhiked all over the country--by people making an honest living in the capitalist society he lived in. He hitchhiked on trains--carrying cargo funded by a capitalist society. He occasionally landed a temporary job--and was paid by a free market employer. It's one thing to dislike certain aspects of capitalism, or to believe in a mixed government (free market + government intervention) or even a socialist governement, but to completely disavow capitalism and then survive off the backs of working Americans strikes me as a startling oxymoron, and makes his philosophies unsustainably self-centered.

That said, several people said that when he did work, he was a reliable, hard worker, so I don't think that was an issue. And he never liked receiving gifts from others, often returning items when people were not aware of it. So he was certainly aware that his philosophy required him to 'go it alone.' I was just struck by how often he still relied on modern civilization to pursue his wanderings.

Edited by jcarter1 on 03/28/2008 10:31:12 MDT.

Chris Jones
(NightMarcher) - F
Re: Fishing on 03/29/2008 06:40:00 MDT Print View

"I am not sure if fishing would have made a difference. Subsisting on too lean of meat can result in rabbit starvation!"

True. But fish can be pretty fatty, especially salmon. That's why the bears dig it so much...

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Into the Wild on 04/02/2008 04:13:50 MDT Print View

I saw the movie a month ago -- flying British Airways to the Middle East. Some random thoughts:

1. Humans are not meant to live alone, esp. in the harshest environments. Even the hardiest Neanderthals banded together and survived together. Much more efficient that way (e.g. hunting and then curing and sharing big game, etc.). No matter how willing and hardy, the kid's chance of surviving alone is that much more diminished by virtue of growing up in modern 21st century.

2. The kid most likely avoided detailed maps wherever he went, viewing them as encumbrances of modern society -- perhaps similar to his avoidance of carrying money "just in case".

3. Most all of us are part of a family or another, which expands outward to our neighborhood, our town, our society. Striking a balance between the individual and the family/community is always tricky. It's one thing to celebrate the kid's singular sense of purpose -- but on the other hand, I just can't help feeling for his parents. I haven't read the book, but in the movie, they seemed to have aged 20 years -- not knowing about their son's whereabouts, and worried sick over him! That part was painful to watch.

Edited by ben2world on 04/02/2008 07:09:26 MDT.

steven rarey
(laptraffic) - F

Locale: Washington
huh... on 04/09/2008 22:08:56 MDT Print View

I read the book and saw most of the movie. I too disliked the character more after seeing the movie than the empathy and 'kimdred heart' I fealt for him from the book. I guess seeing the tangible interaction took the mystery and romance out of the character.

But am I am the only one who sees the hypocracy in foresaking a 6 dollar map in the name of living in the wild to then shack up in an abandoned bus a few miles off a road?

I can get more wild than that 30 minutes from my front door.

stephen jennings
(obi96) - F

Locale: Deep in the Green Mountains
Into the wild on 04/28/2008 15:29:05 MDT Print View

I just saw the movie after hearing all the hype around it. The biggest impression I took away from it was that He was the most selfish S.O.B I've heard about in a long time.
Would it have affected his aimless wanderings that much to write to, at the very least, his sister that He was still alive every couple of months or so. That lack of caring for others feelings borders on the sociopathic.
I left home at 19 from a "fubar" home life, (the polite word would be dysfunctional,) hitchhiking around the world for a year and a half finally winding up in Australia. I still called home once and a while.
As for his prowess at survival, I'd attribute it more to dumb luck than any skill on his part. If he had read more Tom Brown and less Thoreau, He'd still be here. Cause of death; Grossly inflated ego.

Edited by obi96 on 04/28/2008 15:32:48 MDT.

Martin Rye
(rye1966) - F

Locale: UK
Re: Into the wild on 04/28/2008 15:57:42 MDT Print View

The deceased can not speak from the grave to answer their critics. Give Christopher Johnson McCandless memory a break. Yes discuss any lessons in survival and decisions he made, but why judge his character.

mike walker
(m_walker) - F
Into the Wild: it's obvious on 08/16/2008 00:21:12 MDT Print View

If he was testing himself he found his match, the Alaskan bush.

Ryan Teale
(monstertruck) - F

Locale: Almost Yosemite
Into the Wild on 08/20/2008 11:50:48 MDT Print View

I may be able to answer the question about fishing. I was just in Denali and was told that glacier fed rivers originating in the mountains do not contain fish because of the high silt levels. The rivers cannot support fish until much further downstream when the silt settles out and clear water tributaries join and mix. This was the explanation given for the smaller size of the Grizzly bears in Denali compared to the coastal Brown Bears. McCandell was just outside of the Denali NP boundary so the river near where McCandless died may not have contained many fish.

Roman Ryder
(RomanLA) - F

Locale: Southwest Louisiana
Soundtrack on 08/30/2009 22:22:03 MDT Print View

If you're a Pearl Jam fan, it's definitely worth checking out. Eddie Vedder did a great job!

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Into the Wild on 06/21/2011 21:12:56 MDT Print View

An interesting documentary (The Call of the Wild) was being made at the same time that Penn was filming his movie.