Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

Introduction: What is the Life of Christopher McCandless?

In his food journal he wrote on September 1st of 1992: “Today I eat one tuna, one can of soup, and a handful of almonds. […] I’ve had enough food for the day even though I know that these are all empty calories.” This was at the time when he began to become depressed and started looking for a place where he could live more freely but as it turned out he would never be able to do so.
On the road he wrote in his journal: “It’s a good thing I don’t carry a gun. I’d probably shoot myself if I came upon a grizzly.” On September 8th he wrote: “This entire trip has been nerve-racking. If something happens to me out here, there’s no way that anyone will ever know. This is not the kind of life that you can tell stories about over beers in Alaska. It’s not a life that can be described with words. It’s a feel – an attitude.”
On September 23rd he tried to force himself to keep going and wrote in his journal: “If I were to die, I’d want people to understand how it was that I came so close to getting out of this life and dying in the process. And I don’t want this letter to be seen as some kind of cry for help, because it isn’t. […] Doing some stupid things on purpose is more like it”.
Christopher’s adventure took place in an area he called “the wild”, which is the title of his journal. The “wild” is a place without any rules and is the opposite of modern society, which he disdained. He wanted to live completely self-sufficiently and live off the land like the Native Americans did it in the past.

back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless
back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless

A Man Who Faced Death and Returned with a New Perspective on Life

Christopher Johnson McCandless, also known as Alex Supertramp was born on February 12th, 1968 to Walt and Wilhelmina McCandless in El Segundo California. He had two siblings, namely Janice born in 1961 and Kevin born in 1964. His father worked for Hughes Aircraft Company as an aerospace engineer while his mother was a high school principal. When he was 14 years old his parents decided to separate and his father would later remarry.
In 1985 he moved to the small town of Winnemucca, Nevada with his girlfriend Sue Kaczorowski. He worked as a cook at a local restaurant but soon found work as a laborer for the city’s water, sewage and sewer systems. Some time later he was also hired on to be an assistant manager for Western Recycling in Winnemucca. He would get paid $20 per hour, which helped him begin saving money and buy books on outdoor adventure and photography.
In April 1989 McCandless left Winnemucca and hitchhiked to Alaska with a girlfriend, but after a few days apparently had a falling out with her and hitchhiked back to Winnemucca. His next destination was Seattle, Washington where he met and fell in love with Carine W94 when they were together briefly before parting again. He then later decided to hitchhike to Barrow Alaska in the hopes of becoming a professional climber, but was unsuccessful as he had no prior climbing experience.

back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless
back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless

Photos of the Last Moments of His Life

A few days before his death he took a picture of the bus where he was living. The bus was called the “Magic Bus” or the “Magic School Bus”, a name he gave it himself. The picture of the bus that he took had his reflection in a mirror behind it where he can be seen holding a rifle. He took the picture to send to his father, but he never did. In the photo there is a sign that says “Bus 142”. This bus was called the Magic school bus because of its numeration and it’s black and yellow color scheme. It belonged to the Emory Marshall estate in Wasilla, Alaska , which is where McCandless worked during his time in Alaska . The Bus was abandoned there when it broke down, so McCandless moved it up a hill and made it into his home for about six months before he died.

back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless
back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless

What are his most Famous Images & Writings?

Obviously the most famous writings that he wrote were in his diary. He started writing his diary on the first of April and he wrote in it almost every day. He wrote enthusiastically about the animals that he encountered and even though many people found this film to be a bore, I found it to be a very interesting piece of art, which is why I chose it as my topic.
Back to the Wild is about a young man who goes out into the wilderness for a month with only four items. He went up in the Alaskan wilderness and I think that the film is very accurate. There are many real life photographs of this incredible experience and I am glad that I have read his diary because it is very interesting to read how he felt about what he was experiencing.

back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless
back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless

Questions about his Death & Theories on How he Died?

The last confirmed sighting of Christopher McCandless was on the afternoon of June 22, 1992 when he and his friend Jim Whittaker, who were hitch-hiking, were seen at a gas station in Girdwood Alaska, which is situated about three miles north of Anchorage. Chris and Jim had spent the night in an abandoned cabin on the property where they were later found dead after a fire broke out. His corpse was found by a couple while they were hiking in Denali National Park. According to their story the bodies of McCandless and Whittaker had been laid out in sleeping bags, Whittaker’s body on the right side of the building while McCandless’ body was found on the left side. His backpack was inside his sleeping bag. They were carrying a few papers.
The cause of his death was ruled by local authorities as being from starvation, but he had eaten wild potato seeds, which caused his body to shut down because it is toxic if not prepared properly and McCandless did not know how to prepare it. There was no evidence that Chris was poisoned. Although Chris may have eaten the seeds himself or they were unpalatable, he probably ate them in desperation after eating nothing else for a few days.

back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless
back to the wild: the photographs and writings of christopher mccandless