Chris McCandless

Christopher Johnson McCandless was born February 12, 1968 in El Segundo, California. His parents are Walt McCandless and Wilhelmina Johnson (who was known as Billie) and his sister is Carine.

Walt also had children from his first marriage and they were living in California, although Walt was still legally married to his first wife when Chris and Carine were born. (This is something that Chris found out later which infuriated him to the point where he thought his life had all been a lie)

In 1976, Walt was offered a job with NASA as an antenna specialist so they moved to Virginia and his mother worked as a secretary at Hughes Aircraft. Later Walt and Billie started a consultancy firm which became very successful. But it seems working and living together affected their marriage resulting in arguments in front of Chris and Carine which cause them to distance themselves from their parents.

Chris was a good student with A average grades and he was also a good runner leading a team of cross country runners. But, he was very stubborn and strong willed. He would train his cross country team mates hard taking them on practice runs in places where it was easy to get lost. But he saw it as a challenge and saw running as a form of spiritual exercise. An example of his stubbornness was receiving an F for one subject because he refused to write an article in the particular way that the teacher had asked.

He graduated from High School in 1986 and shortly after took off on an solo adventure for the summer arriving back 2 days before he was due to start college. He arrived at college scruffy compared to his well dressed room mate. His room mate dropped out several weeks later but Chris went on to get excellent grades. He graduated from Emory University in 1990 but saw titles and honors as immaterial and irrelevant. Later he would say that university is a 20th century fad and not something to aspire to.

Shortly after graduation, he gave the remaining money from his education fund to OXFAM. The cheque written by Chris on 15th May 1990, totaled $24000. 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 traveled 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.

His body was found by hunters 19 days after he died and later his parents would visit Bus 142 to leave a memorial.

Jon Krakauer (A writer from Outside magazine) did an article on Chris in January 1993 and later wrote the book which in 2007 became the movie 'Into the Wild' by Sean Penn.

Chris'es actions have caused many different debates on safety in the wild and what not to do and many have said that what he did amounted to suicide. But, he has also had a lot of praise for his courage and spirit of adventure. Bus 142 has become somewhat of a tourist attraction, with many visiting every year and posting Youtube videos and pictures on the internet. [ (spelling errors fixed) ]