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The Irresistible Lure Of The Storied ‘Into The Wild’ Bus

magic bus
Facebook/Christopher Supertramp

Alaska is a state of many symbols. One of the most prominent might surprise you. 

Deep within the Alaskan bush country sits an abandoned bus. The bus stands for something that extends far beyond its appearance; in fact, it tells a legendary story.

The adventures of Christopher McCandless are chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s book Into The Wild. After graduating college, McCandless ran away, spending time in Arizona, California, and South Dakota and working odd jobs to save up. Eventually, Christopher fulfilled his heart’s desire: to live in Alaska.

McCandless, after killing an Alaskan moose. June 1992. (Facebook/ChristopherJohnsonMcCandless)

Why would anyone want to “rough it” in Alaska? Eddie Habeck’s recent excursion offers perspective: “I had a lot of time to think about why Chris wanted to leave society, and what it would feel like to be that far away from civilization,” he told VICE. “To actually immerse yourself in that surrounding, you don’t know what you’re going to feel until you’re there.”

Professional guide Eric Halfacre has another perspective. “To a lot of people, [the Stampede Trail] represents a challenge that, if they’re able to overcome, they think they’ll discover something about themselves.”

The “Magic Bus” (a converted 1946 International Harvester) where Christopher McCandless made his home. (Facebook/ChristopherMcCandless)

McCandless set out to conquer the unknown. With limited supplies, little knowledge of his surroundings, and a reckless attitude, he struggled to survive.

To his surprise, McCandless discovered an abandoned bus. He made use of its welcome shelter and useful tools. Sadly, it wasn’t enough to ensure his survival.

Christopher lived off the land, and in the bus, for more than 100 days. Eventually, he died of complications due to poisoning and starvation. In August of 1992, his body was found inside of the bus.

Ever since then, the “Magic Bus” has served as a significant landmark. People have died while making pilgrimages to the bus. The survival of the fittest seems to determine a successful voyage.

A self-portrait of McCandless, next to the Magic Bus. (Facebook/გასაღები)

There’s reason to be concerned when visitors find themselves in a pinch: “We as Alaskans have to spend our tax dollars to bail them out, and that’s an irritating thing for a lot of people to look at,” said Eric Halfacre, regarding rescue operations that have taken place on the Stampede Trail.

In other words, making it to the bus isn’t easy, and amateur thrill-seekers have found that out the hard way. But that doesn’t stop people from trying to fulfill their Magic Bus dreams. Chances are, more people will take their chances to experience this one-of-a-kind bus.

Why do you think the Magic Bus has had such a profound impact on so many people?


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The Irresistible Lure Of The Storied ‘Into The Wild’ Bus