True North Blog

More About the Chris McCandless Story

Amazingly, at least in my mind, it has been 22 years since Christopher McCandless slowly starved to death, all alone in an abandoned school bus, in the Alaskan wilderness.  Many of you may have read about his story in the Jon Krakauer book, Into the Wild, or saw the movie of the same title.  Amazingly, he still remains to this day the subject of active, even fervent, discussions amongst those in the outdoors community.

There is just something about McCandless’ story that touches something so visceral in so many.  The debate generally falls into two main camps.  The first tends to argue that his death was almost inevitable due to his selfish personality and reckless lack of preparedness.  The second tends to praise him for his free spirit and trust in the bounty of Nature, and views his death as an unfortunate accident.  For what it’s worth, my opinion tends to reflect those of the first camp.

At least until today.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I still largely believe that McCandless’ behavior was reckless, even foolish, and his death avoidable.  However, after reading an ABC News interview this morning about his sister, Carine McCandless, my belief has tempered.  It seems, at least as Carine alleges in her newly published book, The Wild Truth, that her brother grew up, not in a stable and loving family as her parents have long asserted, but rather in a “toxic” household made worse by the awful physical and emotional abuse that he suffered at the hands of his father.  It was this influence, she believes, that led her brother to that abandoned schoolbus.

Anyway, I encourage you to read the article for yourself: Sisters Say His Journey was Really to Escape Traumatic Childhood.

Perhaps your opinion will start to change too.

Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook and YouTube.

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