Into the Wild

In April of 1992 a young man by the name Christopher McCandless set out across Alaska on foot. With minimal supplies, a rifle, and a new alter ego (Alex Supertramp), McCandless left civilisation behind to live simply off the land in Alaska’s remote wilderness.

After hiking along the snow-covered ‘Stampede Trail’, McCandless discovered the old Fairbanks Bus 142, a 1946 International Harvester K-5 that was one of several that had been outfitted as shelters for a construction crew repairing the trail in the early 1960s.

When the mine that used the trail closed in the 1970s the buses were removed, all apart from Bus 142 which – thanks to a broken axle – was left behind in the wilderness. Already fitted with beds and a wood burning stove, it became McCandless’s new home.

McCandless attempted to leave the area in which the bus was abandoned several times, but the thick Alaskan undergrowth and swollen rivers made progress impossible, and so he returned, trapped in the shelter.

After 113 days, and weighing just 30kg, McCandless died of starvation and poisoning from wild potato seeds, his final diary entry on day 107 simply reading “Beautiful Blue Berries”. Days 108 to 112 contained only unintelligible slashes, whilst day 113 contained nothing at all.

Two weeks later a group of hunters entered Bus 142 looking for shelter, and discovered McCandless’ decomposing body inside a sleeping bag.

McCandless’ tragic story has since become a book and a movie, and the bus – deteriorating more each year – is now an attraction for Alaskan tourists. This beautiful recreation of the International Harvester that became Chris McCandless’ tomb comes from TLCB favourite and Master MOCer Andrea Lattanzio (aka Norton74), of which there is more to see at his ‘Into the Wild’ album on Flickr. Click the link above to take a trip to the wilderness around Fairbanks Bus 142. Just don’t eat the wild potato seeds.

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