Well, I saw the film Into the Wild the other day. Oddly enough, years ago, I don’t remember when or where – but I think it was in a magazine, I read about this guy who took off into the Alaskan wilderness and appeared to have died from eating the wrong kind of plants, even if this Wikipedia entry appears to indicate that the lad died of starvation.
Did I like the film? Yes, but it’s a little long and quite slow moving.
What did I think of the story? Nice, but a good example of how to end up in big trouble as a result of a) being a townie b) not being at all well prepared for such a harsh environment. I was a still little surprised that the guy ended up dead though. A great shame and sad waste of a young, and promising, life.
As a matter of interest, and as a result of reading about it, I discovered that the unbeknown to McCandless, at the point where he discovered that the river he had initially crossed had swollen so much as to make it impossible to cross, a quarter of a mile further downstream there was a hand pulled ferry – scroll down to Cultural Legacy. Alas the young lad did not even think to take a decent map with him, such was his desperation to escape from the materialist society he so detested.
That he died of starvation surprised me a little – considering he had a gun with him. He must have been neither a good shot nor much of a hunter, is all I can observe – confirming that he was too much of a townie. Anyone thinking about doing the same needs to watch this film, at least so they can understand what not to do.
I know this incvident happened before the web exploded on the scene, which is also a shame because there are some great resources which can allow one to find out about many of the potential pitfalls involved in going it alone in the middle of nowhere. You can even learn how to deal with big nosey, and dangerous, bears. One thing you can do is to lie down and play dead. Then big ted will decided that bear hugging you won’t be much fun and lollop off somewhere else. Maybe for a spot of salmon fishing.
So, I suppose the qustion is: Was McCandless a hero or a fool? I don’t think he was either really. Basically he was killed by that most dangerous of traits: ignorance.
Would I have done any better? I like to think so, but then I didn’t grow up in a town. And I can shoot.