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Into the Wild ... But Not Out of It

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August 25, 2008

Into the Wild ... But Not Out of It

By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily

“Within modern traditional societies, the ability to survive is drastically reduced if the group is too small. A lone individual rarely survives for more than a year….”—Modern People in Africa and Europe, by Goran Burenult

In April, 1992, an electrician named Jim Gallien gave a 24-year-old hitchhiker named Chris McCandless a ride to the Stampede Trail above the Clearwater Fork of the Toklat River. McCandless, who gave his name only as “Alex,” said it was his intention to hike up the trail into the wilderness and live off the land. His equipment consisted of 10 pounds of rice, a .22 rifle and ammo, a guide to the edible plants of the area, several books, and no map or compass.. Gallien was appalled at what the kid was about to do, and offered to buy him some of the things he would need to stay alive. But “Alex” would not listen. Gallien was the last person to see him alive. When his body was found by hunters in September, Chris McCandless—or what was left of him—weighed 67 pounds.

McCandless’ death made national headlines. He had come from a well-to-do Virginia family, graduated from Emory University in 1990, and then simply vanished. He abandoned his car, gave away his money, and calling himself as “Alexander Supertramp,” hoboed around the American West for nearly 2 years before heading for Alaska and his end.

These are the bare bones of one of the best books I’ve read in years. It’s called Into the Wild, and was written in 1996 by Jon Krakauer. It sold something like 2 million copies and has been made into a motion picture.

A good deal of the book’s appeal (for people like you and me) is that we can see parts of ourselves in McCandless. He actually did what just about all of us have dreamed of doing at some point or another. But at some point or another we developed common sense, but poor McCandless, who was very, very bright, did not.

His cause of death was given as starvation, but he may have poisoned himself through carelessness, and if he had owned a decent map, he would very likely have been able to save himself before he grew too weak to walk.

Into the Wild follows McCandless from his childhood to his death, and the odds are you will not be able to put it down. It’s marred only by two chapters telling of Krakauer’s own near-death experiences climbing mountains in Alaska. They are there, I guess, to show that he understands Spiritual Angst and has Messed with Death. You can skip them and you will be none the worse for it. The other missing element is the photos that McCandless took of himself as he starved. The last one, taken just before he crawled into his sleeping bag to die, is something out of a nightmare. You can find it on YouTube, or maybe we can conjure it up here.

Cm

And as you read, you will wish you could have given McCandless a hard smack upside the head and said, “Kid, this is serious; this is no game.“ But he didn’t listen in life, and he would not listen to you or me now.

Comments (73)

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from flintinfrizzen wrote 5 years 31 weeks ago

Looks like I'm back....The rat race still has a hold of me. Anyway, I too read about and saw the movie on Chris McCandless's tragic story. He could have easily been me if I didn't have the hunting/outdoor exposure I was lucky to enjoy before I seriously got into survivalism. Due to a shift changeover at work, I was blessed with a whole week free; so I took a sufficient supply of water (I was not about to PLAN on being stupid) along with the necessary tools and headed out to my camp to live on what I CAREFULLY gathered or shot. Despite keeping my stomach full, I always felt hungry (Talk about hard work!), and during my return to the rat race I ordered a foot-long steak and cheese sub fixed just so and rapidly wolfed it down. And I've practiced this often enough in various conditions to arrive at these CONCLUSIONS: 1. The longevity difference between one who has survival skills/training and one who's lacking such may only be a few weeks, if that. So, obtain the skills as a hobby so you have them if you should need them. 2. The best survival tool is the brain and the best survival strategy is to try not to get into a survival situation in the first place. In other words, having to do it is one thing, but choosing to do it is another; and McCandless's choice cost him his life.

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from Rocky Mtn Hunter wrote 5 years 32 weeks ago

I think that at some point in our lives, be it young or old have the desie to elope to the wilds and tell all to go to Hell. To bad this kid had more education than common sense. If gonna attempt such a move prepare yourself for such. I too at a early age of about l6 wanted to do something as this guy did, only I wanted to go west and live on the Range as a Cowboy, me, my Horse, Dog and 30-30.But, never wanted to be completely left alone for ever. Just wanted to roam the country side and look after the cattle and no worries other than stay healthy, horse in good shape and a good Shooting Iron, plus enough food to live on. But, 6o years ago that was a Dream that I never was able to do. Now I can afford to do such, but not healthy enough to do so on my own. Suppose thats why I love to go west each year on a 3 -4 week hunt and enjoy the qualty of life out ther and the beautiful country. I love the outdoors and what is to see, and if I get a shot, thats a bonus. Hopefully this Fall in Oct-Nov. I am yet able to go and enjoy even more. Too many of us wait too long to do some of the things we would like to do. So do it now, as tomorrow may not come. Have fun, enjoy life as its too short at best.PS; I did buy the Western Handgun and new Rifle in 270 for this trip,so part of my ambition will be fulfilled. Will kept you informed of my success. The old Southern Gun Slinger

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 32 weeks ago

I worked at a Holiday Inn when I was a teenager whose courtesy vans ran on natural gas. That was over thirty years ago...

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from Ed J wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Haven't seen a vehicle to use CNG?Try Ford, Chev or Dodge, its called a dealer installed option. You can also get one for LPG.Oh BTW they been on the market for about 50 years.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

mr.b we've spent how much in the Middle East? Why back out now that we have a foothold in an area that has been unstable, unruly, and killing each other for centuries? Half the worlds oil supply is there, pull your head out of your ass and maybe you'll figure out why we are too. Oh, and don't forget 911... and those semi's full of $100 bills Sodamn Insane was sneaking out of the country. Surely a man of his integrity wouldn't hide or move WMD's.

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from mr.b wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

orangeneck,More blatant? LOL! Yellow cake uranium, weapons of mass destruction, (I love this one) FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, to name a few. These were "truths"?T. Bone Pickens said, "drill, drill, drill and we will never reach independence from foreign oil". We hold 3% of the worlds oil reserves, and consume 25% of production annually.By the way--aint seen a nozzle for natural gas at the service station, nor have I seen a production vehicle for sale to use it. Have you? How long before we see those in the showroom?

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from bfitch wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I'm currently reading THE FINAL FRONTIERSMAN by James Campbell, about Heimo Korth. If I'm not mistaken an excerpt of this was featured in F&S not to long ago.This guy had the same ideas, only he's been doing it for 30+ years.

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from dickgun wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

mr b,Nowhere in my earlier comment did I accuse anyone of stupidity. Perhaps you misread the word 'unwisely' to mean stupidity. Or have you been removed from the land too long?

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Alaskan Exile makes a good point on USAF and US Military survival schools I forgot to mention.The basic survival school I attended had to do more with evasion, emergency medicine, the POW environment [if you survived a bail-out], and dealing with a Northern-Central European environment on the SHORT-TERM with a hostile population nearby. That’s really where everyone expected to fight a war back 35-years ago. Prior to that jungle type training was prevalent…but also dealing with the short term. I can’t recall training to survive the long-term…..Bush Craft: if you will……from the military.Maybe higher level of schooling and training at Fairchild gets into this area. I do know bomber and tanker crews received different training since much of their operations were expected to be over the Artic.

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from Shaky wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

PLUSS+; crude has dropped, not risen, since Bush withdrew the Carter ban on new drilling. Gas prices here have dropped .52 in the last two weeks. Mr B and Nanny P belong in the same prophetic catagory, IMHO.

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from OrangeNeckInNY wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Mr. B., Senator Reid (I believe) stated that we will be off our dependence on oil within 10 years. How does he propose to do that? The infrastructure isn't there. It'll take 10 years for any new drilling endeavors to be seen at the pumps? What crack pipe are you smoking from? The infrastructure for oil refining is already in place. There's a huge underground deposit of natural gas off the coast of North & South Carlina that holds enough natural gas to power the US for the next 70 years, but the Democrats won't let us explore or drill. The Democrats also promised us lower gas prices 2 years ago. Well, it's been 2 years since and gas prices have doubled since they made that promise.As for the two-term Democrat a few years back, he didn't ban handguns outright; he banned what he classified as "Assault Weapons" stating that it will lower crime. Well, that didn't happen. HE sold us "a bag of goods" that were complete lies. When the ban expired, it was predicted that our streets were going to turn into the OK Corral. Well, that didn't happen either. Come on, Mr. B. Both sides lie. Your side just does it a lot more often and more blatantly.

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from AlaskanExile wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Jack Rabbit;There is a guy by the name of Cody Lundin, a civilian (works out of AZ I think) who teaches other civilians how to survive in the wild. Cody wrote a book I read a few years ago "98.6 or the art of keeping your ass alive!" It's the real deal. I've seen him on television too, and although he looks like a hippie, he shoots it straight.I've attended the Air Force's Land, Water and Arctic Survival schools, and I think Cody's course is as close as a civilian can get to the best information.The best part is that you can buy every piece of equipment that Cody recommends or demonstrates, not so for the Air Force Schools. The military schools would also spend a lot of your time teaching you how to survive in captivity, and how to avoid being captured, and how to avoid giving up any information or anything of propaganda value. You can learn most everything you need to know about survival in a week. That's my two-cents worth.

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from mr.b wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I'll meet you part of the way Bubba.Religion does not have a place in the government. We have laws providing for separation of church and state. Look to the Middle East for religious fanatics run amok in government.IF we begin drilling now for oil (offshore), it'll be ten yrs before we see it at the pump. In the meantime, our thirst and domination for demand of oil is going to continue to rise. Being a world commodity, the price per bbl. will also continue to rise. Offshore drilling will in no way, shape or form reduce our dependance on foreign oil. Anybody that tells you different is selling you a bag of goods. This is all rhetoric.G.W. wanted to privatize Social Security. Did he get it? I highly doubt Obama will get his 500% tax, and close 90% of gun outlets either. He's gonna have his hands full of sh**, cleaning up after the last guy. Economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, Guantanamo, no bid contracts, wiretapping, ..........We had a two-term Dem in the Whitehouse a while back--did he ban handguns?

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from Brian T wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

The wilderness is not the place to learn how to survive in the wilderness, especially the north.Life is not the spectator sport that TV leads us to believe.

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

mr.bLet me point out some other Obama facts before you cast your ballot. Mr. Obama believes the bible and christianity have no place in our government/society.Mr. Obama wants no off shore drilling nor drilling in the ANWR, this alone will leave us dependant on foreign oil and alternant energy (AE)sources. While AE sources can produce some of our energy, it can in no way, shape, form or fashion, supply it all. Mr. Obama wants to add 500% to gun taxes and abolish 90% of America's gun stores along with ALL semi-auto's (rifles, pistols, shotguns) and ALL handguns, period!I have often felt like loading up and living in the wilderness. Problem was, I KNEW I'd never make it. I suppose if worse came to worse, I could survive for a prolonged period of time, BUT, (there's that but [butt!?] again!) you can damn well bet I'll take more that rice and a .22!Bubba

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from mr.b wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

dickgun,perhaps it was a presidential election year and he (McCandless), ran to the wilderness to escape the b.s.again, someone-you, equate stupidity with voting for a democrat. and, again I give you G.W.Bush, whom you equate with voting intelligently. Get real. you can't really be that blind. "It taint right if it aint Republicun".Sorry all.

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from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Good intentions and naivete will certainly not provide an adequate foundation for survival in a harsh environment. It is unfortunate and tragic that young McCandless did not survive his "adventure". I see nothing heroic in his fate; I can't see beyond the myopic presumption that he would survive without adequate training. If his loss serves no other purpose, perhaps it clearly illustrates to others that there is no substitute for training and preparation. My sympathies go to the family.

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from Lone Star 45 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Clay has a 22LR Remington Nylon 66 I watched him drop a coyote in its tracks at 200 yards out in New Mexico. He also showed me a trick with the 66 how to do those shots. The front sight has a square bead and if sighted in around 50 feet the bottom of that white bead will be on about 200.

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from Lone Star 45 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Steve SDon’t let us scare you off!!!!Just call this the learning channel22LR is no punk! The penetration and wound channel it makes does a phenomenal job.

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from Steve S wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I guess I was just more surprised that he could take an accurate shot.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Steve SThe 22LR is one of the most under rated cartridges. What’s the difference between being hit with #4 buckshot and a 22 bullet? Granted #4 Buckshot is .240 Diameter and 22lr is .224, but the 224 has more penetration and can be accurately placed. The Moose I shot, I could have killed it just as effectively as with my 22-250 as I did with my 338 Win Mag. 225 grain. Shot it right behind the left ear facing away giving Bullwinkle one hell of a lobotomy!

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from Mike Reeder wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Steve S.Put a .22 bullet in the brain of a moose and he will drop down dead as a bag of rocks. Given their rather phlegmatic nature and how little disturbance a .22 shot makes it would not be all that hard to see how a .22 bullet -- particularly a hollow point in a fairly hot LR -- placed through the heart lungs would result in a dead moose as long as you patiently waited for him to expire and didn't push him out of the country. Archers accomplish the same thing all the time with comparable or even less tissue damage.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Food for thoughtAbout the Democratic Party“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”-Daniel Webster

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from Steve S wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

He kills a moose. Not an Elk.I never did understand how he was able to do that with a .22??Another great Krakauer book is "Under the Banner of Heaven" Has nothing to do with fishing or hunting, but still a great book.

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from Mike Reeder wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

One thing this story should do is give you a greater appreciation for what the original mountain men did. Men like Jim Bridger went into totally unexplored territory facing not just the elements but hostile Indians as well, with nothing but their pack animals, muzzle-loaders and knives. They didn't just survive -- they paved the way for all the settlers who would follow in their tracks.

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from dickgun wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Is it so surprising that, with much of our population now five or more generations removed from any contact with the land that some will venture, unwisely, into things or places of which they know little or nothing?Look at all the people who plan to vote for the Democrate Presidential slate come November!!

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from dickgun wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Is it so surprising that, with much of our population now five or more generations removed from any contact with the land that some will venture, unwisely, into things or places of which they know little or nothing?Look at all the people who plan to vote for the Democrate Presidential slate come November!!

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from Zermoid wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

One seemingly trivial fact that cost several people their lives, sad.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

JackI agree with you. Maybe he wasn’t an idiot, but foolish YES!dartwickWe are thinking of two different expeditions but your right about the vitamin “A”.The dogs became a food resource after Ninnis, his dog team and the sledge they were pulling fell into a crevasse and were lost, along with most of the food supply. The liver of one dog contains enough vitamin A to produce the condition called hypervitaminosis A. Mawson did not know this and fed more of the dog livers to Mertz, as the latter was the weaker of the two men, thus causing vitamin A poisoning and facilitating Mertz's demise.

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from FH wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Good discussion.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

dartwickThank You Sir for the correction and I am glad someone is out there to do so! Kinda like a group meeting together someplace for coffee and someone says something and another says, “no” this is what happened and remember when?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

DavePeter Kummerfeldt does seminars for sportsman's show around the country. He is usually at Washington (state) Sportsman's Show at Puyallup, WA or the Evergreen Sportsman's show at Monroe, WA fairgrounds (both Seattle area) for O'Laughlin trade show productions.PK is a very knowledgeable fellow. As a former Ranger and graduate of the USAF SEER school, I can venture an opinion that he is indeed a subject matter expert.WMH

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from jack wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Clay Cooper - I think I understand your point about referring to McCandless as a fool or an idiot. But I am not of a mind to place him in a class of explorers and adventurers who do great things but fail. McCandless may have had a grand goal, but he failed when he took his first step. Lack of planning, preparation and provision led to his death. This, to me, qualifies as a foolish act.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I went through Fairchild in late-March. 30’s and 40’s, but Lord, how it rained. The refresher’s were for desert conditions and then for “cold weather”. There seems to be basic USAF survival for flight crews and then specialties….at least that the way it was 30-years ago. The whole subject is likely much different now.I recall a cold weather exercise was an ice water dunk. We had to get our clothes off before hyperthermia set in. For the real rugged, you not only stripped yourself with frozen fingers, but got your buddies clothes off as well. I never thought how difficult this exercise could be.A point that distresses me is how McCandless has obtained cult status. I can understand and even promote a “Vision Quest”, but his mind frame was corrupted. IMHO his state of mind allowed that fatal error even though he did live off the land for two-years prior. Yet this state of mind is honored in cult status. Go figure.

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from jim in nc wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Both McCandless and the guy who was eaten by his bear "friends" are sad cases, but also candidates for the Charles Darwin Award (given posthumously to people who improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it thru incredibly stupid behavior).

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from Dave Petzal wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

To JackRabbit: See if you can track down a guy named Peter Kummerfeldt. He is the former chief instructor for the survival course at the Air Force Academy, and I think he still does that type of thing. I sat in on a class he gave in the 90s at a RMEF seminar, and it was the most interesting couple of hours I've spent.

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from dartwick wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I read that Clay Cooper post a few up and am reminded that just how often people post vague recollections as fact here on the interweb."Another tragic death occurred to an expedition trying to reach the North Pole by dog sled. They ran out of food and starting eating the dogs. They died of overdose of vitamin “D” in the dogs’ liver."It was actually Vitamin "A" concentrated in liver of polar bears that some suspect killed them.

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from lastearlofshaw wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

This pitiful anecdote reminds me of that idiot "Timothy Treadwell" (not his true name,)who declared that he "would be proud to end up as bear scat" and eventually got his wish while frollicking amongst his "bothers," the Alaskan Brown Bears...

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

He didn't kill an elk with a .22 unless he swam out to one of the islands. There are no elk on mainland Alaska. If mem serves Afognak and Strawberry have elk and maybe a few other islands.This was Darwinism along the line of Tim whatshisname that lived with the Brownies on the Alaska peninsula until one turned him into a bear turd. Shamefully he got a woman killed with him. See the film "Grizzly man" for his story.

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from Scott wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I can understand the need for some to prove, either to themselves or others, their ability to survive alone. But I also know that the human animal was never meant to be alone. We need interaction with others, especially like-minded others. We exist on our own and survive with our spouses and families as was intended by the Creator. We're made better if we practice some form of privation, whether it be through separation from others or just plain doing without. Mr. McCandless was misguided at best. Just plain stupid at worst.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

After further thinking about this subject, the thought of an idiot that removed himself from the human gene pool did cross my mind and revisiting that thought I realized a lot of knowledge has been lost as centuries too millenniums gone by. Take metallurgy and mineral compositions for example. Today new compounds and combinations of are being made and new drugs that may cure cancer and other diseases or are they? Now take the art of survival, they knew what to take from the land, to prepare it and how to survive on it.Mr. Chris McCandless believed and perished on another person’s knowledge. Does that and that alone make him a fool, a idiot or any other word that is defamation of character? History is filled with ventures such as this and those that considered them fools and others heroes!What buckstopper Father said rings very true;"Do not mistake education for intelligence!"What if?????? What if Mr. Chris McCandless didn’t consume and/or came in contact what was toxic and/or contained biological hazards and still alive today??????What would you say then?!Perhaps Alan Ashley-Pitt said it best“The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.”There are more than just two sides to this story as this universe as it is 3 dimensional or is it?

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from OrangeNeckInNY wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I read the book detailing his adventures in trying to live off the land, etc. He did pretty well too until he died after he ate the one thing he knew he shouldn't have - potato seeds (actually the fruit that houses them), which contained the toxic alkaloid solanine. His dying words in his journal was that he shouldn't have eaten those seeds. His parents found his body in a rusted out school bus painted hippy-style. So sad.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Found an excellent load for my Springfield 45XD, 230 grain cast with 8.5 grains of Blue Dot. All my casings were in about 3 to 4 foot circle and the accuracy size of my palm at 20 yards without trying.

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from Visitor wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Mark-1, how cold did it get in Fairchild?

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from Visitor wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

By the way, BRUCELLOSIS is a cousin to VD!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Shouldn’t try to write when the Grandkids are over.Anyhow after thinking about Mr. Chris McCandless not Jim Gallien, I’m suspecting one of three things happened to or the combination of. One is a medical problem that he did not know. The second I truly believe is the cause of death is due to eating vegetation that contains alkaloids and other toxins and third possibility is water borne illnesses from beavers that I’m sure of he had.There is a wreck ship found in the Arctic and the survivors died from the metal cans that had meat and such. It wasn’t the contents of the can; it was what was used to seal the can. “LEAD”!Another tragic death occurred to an expedition trying to reach the North Pole by dog sled. They ran out of food and starting eating the dogs. They died of overdose of vitamin “D” in the dogs’ liver.Every year Sportsmen fly into remote regions and without any warning whatsoever and did everything perfect they still become another statistic. One person that lived to tell about it ran out of water. So he filled his canteen up and dropped a couple of iodine water purification tabs in it and fallowed the directions perfectly. What was the life threatening results? He was allergic to iodine!The most common I know of Alaska is BRUCELLOSIS caught from cutting yourself during field dressing from Caribou blood, Giardia and Tularemia from beaver ponds to name a few. Where there are beavers and you drink the water is a very good chance you will contract one of their parasites and bacteria’s.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I don’t know of any private survival schools, but there are obscure college courses at various locations. I know there was a Pa University having undergrads playing Neolithic Hunters making stone tipped javelins and atlatls. These kids then hunted deer successfully. I saw that on PBS-TV.The American Mountain Man outfit has a program of 1830-ish type of outdoor/survival skills that seems to match the Fairchild USAF program…somewhat. I think a person has to be rather whacked out to voluntarily do “aliments du pays” for any length of time.I did US Military basic survival school and then did two “refresher’s”. That survival thing gets old real quick.The McCandless Thing has gone on for 50,000+ years. It’s nothing new. Men have always pitted themselves against Nature. Artic and Antarctic exploration has at least two instances of major disaster in the McCandless Mode by organized, seasoned explorers. I see no difference.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Out of boredom I read the book in a couple cold evenings a few years ago. The book and movie make considerable hoopah about one of many idiots who venture in above their heads into an uncertain environment. Similiar occurances happen in the Rockies every year, lost people who turn up dead or maybe not at all. Usually someone who has no business there alone. By the way the McCandless kid's rifle of choice was a Nylon 66 like the ones we have cussed and discussed. Krakauer made a good effort insofar as research and well written storyline. May McCandless' soul rest in peace since his life obviously was not blessed with that desirable quality. This is a gun blog so let's get on to a better topic unless you want to hear about the guy whose tracks lead into the desert nearby and suddenly stopped on bare ground, or the girl out jogging near Lander who left no further trace of her existance, or the Fish and Game plane that crashed somewhere out of Dubois which went undiscovered for years. Maybe you want to hear about the bigfoot near Pahaska. Or maybe we could just talk about long range 7 mm magnums at 3400 fps versus .270 Win. at 3100 fps and which is preferable...yep I'm rambling again.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I felt truely sorry for this kid when I read his story of life and tragic death. He seemed to be searching for solice;maybe death finally stopped his search for it?

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Buckstopper, hunting and fishing regulations do not apply to Native Americans... they are not poaching when they shoot a moose in the forehead anytime they want even if it's a .22 to the forehead at 3 AM while they are canoeing beside him in the mid-summer.

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from Jim in Mo. wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

JackRabbit,There are weekend and weeklong courses out there but they're a joke as far as giving someone the skills to do what this young man tried. If your young enough join the military and apply for all the ranger/special ops. courses you can. Even then no one should take on a task like this so underprepared. This guy had a death wish and didn't know it.

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from Visitor wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

buckstopperYour dad used to say "Do not mistake education for intellegence!"Smart Fella!

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from JackRabbit wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Speaking of survival skills, does anyone know of a good survival school anywhere in the US? It's one thing to read books and magazine articles and try a few things on a weekend jaunt, but to have an expert show you first hand is another thing altogether. I'd love to sharpen my skills with something like this. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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from Dom wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I did a little bit of "McAndlessing" myself a few years ago. For a month, I lived on a beach in coastal BC off rice and fish and berries I harvested. It was great. However, I knew what I was getting into; I had a map and compass and knew where to get help if needed. I also had no dreams of surviving there indefinitely. I later tried to do the same in the BC interior but failed. I hope to repeat such an experience soon. There is nothing quite like it.I read "Into the Wild". It is a great book. It was an inspiration. It showed me what to do and what not to do when I did my own survival expeditions.For those of you who like this book, try "Magnetic North". It's the story of a man who crossed Canada by foot, canoe and dog sled.

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from dartwick wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

If a poor shot, shoots enough elk with a .22 - one will eventually die.Im not saying that happened in this case but plenty of people can kill an elk with the smallest of guns when they dont have anything else to do.

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from buckstopper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

JimMy dad used to say "Do not mistake education for intellegence!"Mike,Indian poachers used to use a .22 on moose and elk. A shot in the lungs and wait on them to bleed out.Some folk equate Indians with being great hunters. They hunted for survival not sport. Their techniques would be frowned upon today.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

PS = The best wilderness story on video in my humble opinion is the story of Richard Proenneke = Alone In The Wilderness. I have a friend who met the old character before he passed on.A few minutes of the story can be seen on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsfB6oJ55wM

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from Carney wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I agree with Dave and appreciate everyone's good, frank comments.My 2 cents = "There are lots of very bright young people; not many wise ones!"

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I know I've read somewhere about a trapper who walked across the Yukon or Canada or Alaska or some crazy shit like that with only a Ruger MKII .22 pistol and a bunch of traps. Came back months or years later in fine health with thousands of dollars of pelts. Anyone out there can clue me in or verify this story... seems like maybe I read it in an O'Connor book.This guy just didn't have a clue, obviously. A little more experience would have gone a long way.

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from Gary wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I think the fact that life in America is becoming ever more claustrophobic forces people to take risk that they might not otherwise take. I don't know this for a fact, but I honestly think this phenomenon is partly what is driving the extreme sports craze.

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from Mike wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Avoid the movie version of this story at all costs. The book was well written and quite balanced in its view. It included the perspective of McCandless' parents, friends and people he met along the way who generally adored him, and the folks up in Alaska who thought he was a misguided idiot who paved the way for dozens of other misguided idiots to try to kill themselves in the wilderness. Sean Penn took this interesting, balanced story and made McCandless into a flawless Christ figure, tormented by the failings of his parents, who dies a beautiful, peaceful death doing exactly what he wanted. It was an awful waste of time.By the way, McCandless supposedly killed an elk or moose (can't remember which) with a .22. Seems to me that he wouldn't have the skill or knowledge to kill such a large animal with a .22, given that he didn't know enough to clean the kill properly or stop the meat from rotting.

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from jstreet wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Bottom line.A person who has acquired the finest formal education is still an idiot without the common sense to apply it.Jim

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from Thomas wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Sometimes the most educated people make the worst mistakes. McCandless may have taught be was prepared, but mother nature has a way of making a fool out of you. We all make mistakes, every one does, but the ability to realize our mistakes and take control of it, is what keeps us alive.Tom the Troll

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I love Sean Penn the actor. I just can't get into Sean Penn the intellectual, Sean Penn the writer, Sean Penn the director or Sean Penn the activist. All these other incarnations just end up making him look like Sean Penn the pretentious douche bag.That's why I never bothered to see the movie. Sean Penn wrote the screenplay and directed it.

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from KingFisher907 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

uhhh no...he was just an idiot..and now he's a dead idiot...

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from J. Barthelt wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

The book was great, but the movie was pure crap. Don't waste your time with it. Penn ruined it.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

JackGood search Sir!I’ve hunted every environment on earth from swamps to arctic conditions. I can tell you all the beauty I have seen. But all that beauty has one thing in common. GIVEN THE CHANCE, ALL THAT BEAUTY WILL KILL YOU!

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from The Trout Underground wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

The concept of the "outdoors" is so removed from most of our lives that it's easy to romanticize it beyond recognition.In McCandless' case, wilderness wasn't a beautiful place full of things that didn't want to be eaten, but a utopian vision.McCandless seems to generate polarized responses from readers. Some say he's just another idiot, while others understand at least a part of what he was trying to do while recognizing that he was doing it very poorly.My own take was that he was running to this idealistic wilderness without realizing that once he arrived, the demons that drove him there would be standing in his shoes with him.Like Buckaroo Banzai said, "No matter where you go, there you are."

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

People do a lot of stupid things from climbing mountains to want to be survivalists like Jim Gallien. There is one piece of equipment that I have purchased 2 weeks ago that may have saved their lives. I’ve tested it and the darn thing works and only the size of a toss away camera. It’s called “SPOT” or EPRB, Emergency Personal Radio Beacon updated with GPS. Go hide in the wilderness and if you get lonely and want to meet a lot of people real quick? Press the 911 button and you will have the world coming your way! I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a must have and an insurance policy that you cannot go without. Be a great must have for every Boy Scout that goes on a Camping trip. The parents can track their location and gives them a piece of equipment superior to a cell phone in case of emergency and to let them know they are ok.WWW.findmespot.com

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from jack wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

From wikipedia:Alaskan Park Ranger Peter Christian wrote: “I am exposed continually to what I will call the ‘McCandless Phenomenon.’ People, nearly always young men, come to Alaska to challenge themselves against an unforgiving wilderness landscape where convenience of access and possibility of rescue are practically nonexistent....When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did wasn’t even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic, and inconsiderate. First off, he spent very little time learning how to actually live in the wild. He arrived at the Stampede Trail without even a map of the area. If he [had] had a good map he could have walked out of his predicament...Essentially, Chris McCandless committed suicide.”

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from dartwick wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I find the story interesting and have Daves perspective.But almost as interesting is the reverential attitude so many people have towards what was basically a kid with out the sense to take care of himself.

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Read the book a couple years after it came out. I'm not into mountain climbing but I admire Jon Krakauer's writing so I've read "Into Thin Air" and "Eiger Dreams" as well.But "Into the Wild" is by far his best book.

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from buckstopper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I remember that story from an episode of ABC's 20/20. The guy was lost but had plenty of food but died of eating a poison plant he thought was a type of potato. He was found in an old bus used as a hunting camp. Sad tale.

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from flintinfrizzen wrote 5 years 31 weeks ago

Looks like I'm back....The rat race still has a hold of me. Anyway, I too read about and saw the movie on Chris McCandless's tragic story. He could have easily been me if I didn't have the hunting/outdoor exposure I was lucky to enjoy before I seriously got into survivalism. Due to a shift changeover at work, I was blessed with a whole week free; so I took a sufficient supply of water (I was not about to PLAN on being stupid) along with the necessary tools and headed out to my camp to live on what I CAREFULLY gathered or shot. Despite keeping my stomach full, I always felt hungry (Talk about hard work!), and during my return to the rat race I ordered a foot-long steak and cheese sub fixed just so and rapidly wolfed it down. And I've practiced this often enough in various conditions to arrive at these CONCLUSIONS: 1. The longevity difference between one who has survival skills/training and one who's lacking such may only be a few weeks, if that. So, obtain the skills as a hobby so you have them if you should need them. 2. The best survival tool is the brain and the best survival strategy is to try not to get into a survival situation in the first place. In other words, having to do it is one thing, but choosing to do it is another; and McCandless's choice cost him his life.

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from Rocky Mtn Hunter wrote 5 years 32 weeks ago

I think that at some point in our lives, be it young or old have the desie to elope to the wilds and tell all to go to Hell. To bad this kid had more education than common sense. If gonna attempt such a move prepare yourself for such. I too at a early age of about l6 wanted to do something as this guy did, only I wanted to go west and live on the Range as a Cowboy, me, my Horse, Dog and 30-30.But, never wanted to be completely left alone for ever. Just wanted to roam the country side and look after the cattle and no worries other than stay healthy, horse in good shape and a good Shooting Iron, plus enough food to live on. But, 6o years ago that was a Dream that I never was able to do. Now I can afford to do such, but not healthy enough to do so on my own. Suppose thats why I love to go west each year on a 3 -4 week hunt and enjoy the qualty of life out ther and the beautiful country. I love the outdoors and what is to see, and if I get a shot, thats a bonus. Hopefully this Fall in Oct-Nov. I am yet able to go and enjoy even more. Too many of us wait too long to do some of the things we would like to do. So do it now, as tomorrow may not come. Have fun, enjoy life as its too short at best.PS; I did buy the Western Handgun and new Rifle in 270 for this trip,so part of my ambition will be fulfilled. Will kept you informed of my success. The old Southern Gun Slinger

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 32 weeks ago

I worked at a Holiday Inn when I was a teenager whose courtesy vans ran on natural gas. That was over thirty years ago...

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from Ed J wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Haven't seen a vehicle to use CNG?Try Ford, Chev or Dodge, its called a dealer installed option. You can also get one for LPG.Oh BTW they been on the market for about 50 years.

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

mr.b we've spent how much in the Middle East? Why back out now that we have a foothold in an area that has been unstable, unruly, and killing each other for centuries? Half the worlds oil supply is there, pull your head out of your ass and maybe you'll figure out why we are too. Oh, and don't forget 911... and those semi's full of $100 bills Sodamn Insane was sneaking out of the country. Surely a man of his integrity wouldn't hide or move WMD's.

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from mr.b wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

orangeneck,More blatant? LOL! Yellow cake uranium, weapons of mass destruction, (I love this one) FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY, to name a few. These were "truths"?T. Bone Pickens said, "drill, drill, drill and we will never reach independence from foreign oil". We hold 3% of the worlds oil reserves, and consume 25% of production annually.By the way--aint seen a nozzle for natural gas at the service station, nor have I seen a production vehicle for sale to use it. Have you? How long before we see those in the showroom?

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from bfitch wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I'm currently reading THE FINAL FRONTIERSMAN by James Campbell, about Heimo Korth. If I'm not mistaken an excerpt of this was featured in F&S not to long ago.This guy had the same ideas, only he's been doing it for 30+ years.

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from dickgun wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

mr b,Nowhere in my earlier comment did I accuse anyone of stupidity. Perhaps you misread the word 'unwisely' to mean stupidity. Or have you been removed from the land too long?

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Alaskan Exile makes a good point on USAF and US Military survival schools I forgot to mention.The basic survival school I attended had to do more with evasion, emergency medicine, the POW environment [if you survived a bail-out], and dealing with a Northern-Central European environment on the SHORT-TERM with a hostile population nearby. That’s really where everyone expected to fight a war back 35-years ago. Prior to that jungle type training was prevalent…but also dealing with the short term. I can’t recall training to survive the long-term…..Bush Craft: if you will……from the military.Maybe higher level of schooling and training at Fairchild gets into this area. I do know bomber and tanker crews received different training since much of their operations were expected to be over the Artic.

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from Shaky wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

PLUSS+; crude has dropped, not risen, since Bush withdrew the Carter ban on new drilling. Gas prices here have dropped .52 in the last two weeks. Mr B and Nanny P belong in the same prophetic catagory, IMHO.

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from OrangeNeckInNY wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Mr. B., Senator Reid (I believe) stated that we will be off our dependence on oil within 10 years. How does he propose to do that? The infrastructure isn't there. It'll take 10 years for any new drilling endeavors to be seen at the pumps? What crack pipe are you smoking from? The infrastructure for oil refining is already in place. There's a huge underground deposit of natural gas off the coast of North & South Carlina that holds enough natural gas to power the US for the next 70 years, but the Democrats won't let us explore or drill. The Democrats also promised us lower gas prices 2 years ago. Well, it's been 2 years since and gas prices have doubled since they made that promise.As for the two-term Democrat a few years back, he didn't ban handguns outright; he banned what he classified as "Assault Weapons" stating that it will lower crime. Well, that didn't happen. HE sold us "a bag of goods" that were complete lies. When the ban expired, it was predicted that our streets were going to turn into the OK Corral. Well, that didn't happen either. Come on, Mr. B. Both sides lie. Your side just does it a lot more often and more blatantly.

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from AlaskanExile wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Jack Rabbit;There is a guy by the name of Cody Lundin, a civilian (works out of AZ I think) who teaches other civilians how to survive in the wild. Cody wrote a book I read a few years ago "98.6 or the art of keeping your ass alive!" It's the real deal. I've seen him on television too, and although he looks like a hippie, he shoots it straight.I've attended the Air Force's Land, Water and Arctic Survival schools, and I think Cody's course is as close as a civilian can get to the best information.The best part is that you can buy every piece of equipment that Cody recommends or demonstrates, not so for the Air Force Schools. The military schools would also spend a lot of your time teaching you how to survive in captivity, and how to avoid being captured, and how to avoid giving up any information or anything of propaganda value. You can learn most everything you need to know about survival in a week. That's my two-cents worth.

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from mr.b wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I'll meet you part of the way Bubba.Religion does not have a place in the government. We have laws providing for separation of church and state. Look to the Middle East for religious fanatics run amok in government.IF we begin drilling now for oil (offshore), it'll be ten yrs before we see it at the pump. In the meantime, our thirst and domination for demand of oil is going to continue to rise. Being a world commodity, the price per bbl. will also continue to rise. Offshore drilling will in no way, shape or form reduce our dependance on foreign oil. Anybody that tells you different is selling you a bag of goods. This is all rhetoric.G.W. wanted to privatize Social Security. Did he get it? I highly doubt Obama will get his 500% tax, and close 90% of gun outlets either. He's gonna have his hands full of sh**, cleaning up after the last guy. Economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, Guantanamo, no bid contracts, wiretapping, ..........We had a two-term Dem in the Whitehouse a while back--did he ban handguns?

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from Brian T wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

The wilderness is not the place to learn how to survive in the wilderness, especially the north.Life is not the spectator sport that TV leads us to believe.

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from Bubba wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

mr.bLet me point out some other Obama facts before you cast your ballot. Mr. Obama believes the bible and christianity have no place in our government/society.Mr. Obama wants no off shore drilling nor drilling in the ANWR, this alone will leave us dependant on foreign oil and alternant energy (AE)sources. While AE sources can produce some of our energy, it can in no way, shape, form or fashion, supply it all. Mr. Obama wants to add 500% to gun taxes and abolish 90% of America's gun stores along with ALL semi-auto's (rifles, pistols, shotguns) and ALL handguns, period!I have often felt like loading up and living in the wilderness. Problem was, I KNEW I'd never make it. I suppose if worse came to worse, I could survive for a prolonged period of time, BUT, (there's that but [butt!?] again!) you can damn well bet I'll take more that rice and a .22!Bubba

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from mr.b wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

dickgun,perhaps it was a presidential election year and he (McCandless), ran to the wilderness to escape the b.s.again, someone-you, equate stupidity with voting for a democrat. and, again I give you G.W.Bush, whom you equate with voting intelligently. Get real. you can't really be that blind. "It taint right if it aint Republicun".Sorry all.

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from Edward J. Palumbo wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Good intentions and naivete will certainly not provide an adequate foundation for survival in a harsh environment. It is unfortunate and tragic that young McCandless did not survive his "adventure". I see nothing heroic in his fate; I can't see beyond the myopic presumption that he would survive without adequate training. If his loss serves no other purpose, perhaps it clearly illustrates to others that there is no substitute for training and preparation. My sympathies go to the family.

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from Lone Star 45 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Clay has a 22LR Remington Nylon 66 I watched him drop a coyote in its tracks at 200 yards out in New Mexico. He also showed me a trick with the 66 how to do those shots. The front sight has a square bead and if sighted in around 50 feet the bottom of that white bead will be on about 200.

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from Lone Star 45 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Steve SDon’t let us scare you off!!!!Just call this the learning channel22LR is no punk! The penetration and wound channel it makes does a phenomenal job.

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from Steve S wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I guess I was just more surprised that he could take an accurate shot.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Steve SThe 22LR is one of the most under rated cartridges. What’s the difference between being hit with #4 buckshot and a 22 bullet? Granted #4 Buckshot is .240 Diameter and 22lr is .224, but the 224 has more penetration and can be accurately placed. The Moose I shot, I could have killed it just as effectively as with my 22-250 as I did with my 338 Win Mag. 225 grain. Shot it right behind the left ear facing away giving Bullwinkle one hell of a lobotomy!

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from Mike Reeder wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Steve S.Put a .22 bullet in the brain of a moose and he will drop down dead as a bag of rocks. Given their rather phlegmatic nature and how little disturbance a .22 shot makes it would not be all that hard to see how a .22 bullet -- particularly a hollow point in a fairly hot LR -- placed through the heart lungs would result in a dead moose as long as you patiently waited for him to expire and didn't push him out of the country. Archers accomplish the same thing all the time with comparable or even less tissue damage.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Food for thoughtAbout the Democratic Party“Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”-Daniel Webster

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from Steve S wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

He kills a moose. Not an Elk.I never did understand how he was able to do that with a .22??Another great Krakauer book is "Under the Banner of Heaven" Has nothing to do with fishing or hunting, but still a great book.

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from Mike Reeder wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

One thing this story should do is give you a greater appreciation for what the original mountain men did. Men like Jim Bridger went into totally unexplored territory facing not just the elements but hostile Indians as well, with nothing but their pack animals, muzzle-loaders and knives. They didn't just survive -- they paved the way for all the settlers who would follow in their tracks.

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from dickgun wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Is it so surprising that, with much of our population now five or more generations removed from any contact with the land that some will venture, unwisely, into things or places of which they know little or nothing?Look at all the people who plan to vote for the Democrate Presidential slate come November!!

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from dickgun wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Is it so surprising that, with much of our population now five or more generations removed from any contact with the land that some will venture, unwisely, into things or places of which they know little or nothing?Look at all the people who plan to vote for the Democrate Presidential slate come November!!

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from Zermoid wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

One seemingly trivial fact that cost several people their lives, sad.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

JackI agree with you. Maybe he wasn’t an idiot, but foolish YES!dartwickWe are thinking of two different expeditions but your right about the vitamin “A”.The dogs became a food resource after Ninnis, his dog team and the sledge they were pulling fell into a crevasse and were lost, along with most of the food supply. The liver of one dog contains enough vitamin A to produce the condition called hypervitaminosis A. Mawson did not know this and fed more of the dog livers to Mertz, as the latter was the weaker of the two men, thus causing vitamin A poisoning and facilitating Mertz's demise.

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from FH wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Good discussion.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

dartwickThank You Sir for the correction and I am glad someone is out there to do so! Kinda like a group meeting together someplace for coffee and someone says something and another says, “no” this is what happened and remember when?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

DavePeter Kummerfeldt does seminars for sportsman's show around the country. He is usually at Washington (state) Sportsman's Show at Puyallup, WA or the Evergreen Sportsman's show at Monroe, WA fairgrounds (both Seattle area) for O'Laughlin trade show productions.PK is a very knowledgeable fellow. As a former Ranger and graduate of the USAF SEER school, I can venture an opinion that he is indeed a subject matter expert.WMH

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from jack wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Clay Cooper - I think I understand your point about referring to McCandless as a fool or an idiot. But I am not of a mind to place him in a class of explorers and adventurers who do great things but fail. McCandless may have had a grand goal, but he failed when he took his first step. Lack of planning, preparation and provision led to his death. This, to me, qualifies as a foolish act.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I went through Fairchild in late-March. 30’s and 40’s, but Lord, how it rained. The refresher’s were for desert conditions and then for “cold weather”. There seems to be basic USAF survival for flight crews and then specialties….at least that the way it was 30-years ago. The whole subject is likely much different now.I recall a cold weather exercise was an ice water dunk. We had to get our clothes off before hyperthermia set in. For the real rugged, you not only stripped yourself with frozen fingers, but got your buddies clothes off as well. I never thought how difficult this exercise could be.A point that distresses me is how McCandless has obtained cult status. I can understand and even promote a “Vision Quest”, but his mind frame was corrupted. IMHO his state of mind allowed that fatal error even though he did live off the land for two-years prior. Yet this state of mind is honored in cult status. Go figure.

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from jim in nc wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Both McCandless and the guy who was eaten by his bear "friends" are sad cases, but also candidates for the Charles Darwin Award (given posthumously to people who improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it thru incredibly stupid behavior).

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from Dave Petzal wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

To JackRabbit: See if you can track down a guy named Peter Kummerfeldt. He is the former chief instructor for the survival course at the Air Force Academy, and I think he still does that type of thing. I sat in on a class he gave in the 90s at a RMEF seminar, and it was the most interesting couple of hours I've spent.

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from dartwick wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I read that Clay Cooper post a few up and am reminded that just how often people post vague recollections as fact here on the interweb."Another tragic death occurred to an expedition trying to reach the North Pole by dog sled. They ran out of food and starting eating the dogs. They died of overdose of vitamin “D” in the dogs’ liver."It was actually Vitamin "A" concentrated in liver of polar bears that some suspect killed them.

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from lastearlofshaw wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

This pitiful anecdote reminds me of that idiot "Timothy Treadwell" (not his true name,)who declared that he "would be proud to end up as bear scat" and eventually got his wish while frollicking amongst his "bothers," the Alaskan Brown Bears...

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from Del in KS wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

He didn't kill an elk with a .22 unless he swam out to one of the islands. There are no elk on mainland Alaska. If mem serves Afognak and Strawberry have elk and maybe a few other islands.This was Darwinism along the line of Tim whatshisname that lived with the Brownies on the Alaska peninsula until one turned him into a bear turd. Shamefully he got a woman killed with him. See the film "Grizzly man" for his story.

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from Scott wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I can understand the need for some to prove, either to themselves or others, their ability to survive alone. But I also know that the human animal was never meant to be alone. We need interaction with others, especially like-minded others. We exist on our own and survive with our spouses and families as was intended by the Creator. We're made better if we practice some form of privation, whether it be through separation from others or just plain doing without. Mr. McCandless was misguided at best. Just plain stupid at worst.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

After further thinking about this subject, the thought of an idiot that removed himself from the human gene pool did cross my mind and revisiting that thought I realized a lot of knowledge has been lost as centuries too millenniums gone by. Take metallurgy and mineral compositions for example. Today new compounds and combinations of are being made and new drugs that may cure cancer and other diseases or are they? Now take the art of survival, they knew what to take from the land, to prepare it and how to survive on it.Mr. Chris McCandless believed and perished on another person’s knowledge. Does that and that alone make him a fool, a idiot or any other word that is defamation of character? History is filled with ventures such as this and those that considered them fools and others heroes!What buckstopper Father said rings very true;"Do not mistake education for intelligence!"What if?????? What if Mr. Chris McCandless didn’t consume and/or came in contact what was toxic and/or contained biological hazards and still alive today??????What would you say then?!Perhaps Alan Ashley-Pitt said it best“The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.”There are more than just two sides to this story as this universe as it is 3 dimensional or is it?

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from OrangeNeckInNY wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I read the book detailing his adventures in trying to live off the land, etc. He did pretty well too until he died after he ate the one thing he knew he shouldn't have - potato seeds (actually the fruit that houses them), which contained the toxic alkaloid solanine. His dying words in his journal was that he shouldn't have eaten those seeds. His parents found his body in a rusted out school bus painted hippy-style. So sad.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Found an excellent load for my Springfield 45XD, 230 grain cast with 8.5 grains of Blue Dot. All my casings were in about 3 to 4 foot circle and the accuracy size of my palm at 20 yards without trying.

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from Visitor wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Mark-1, how cold did it get in Fairchild?

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from Visitor wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

By the way, BRUCELLOSIS is a cousin to VD!

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Shouldn’t try to write when the Grandkids are over.Anyhow after thinking about Mr. Chris McCandless not Jim Gallien, I’m suspecting one of three things happened to or the combination of. One is a medical problem that he did not know. The second I truly believe is the cause of death is due to eating vegetation that contains alkaloids and other toxins and third possibility is water borne illnesses from beavers that I’m sure of he had.There is a wreck ship found in the Arctic and the survivors died from the metal cans that had meat and such. It wasn’t the contents of the can; it was what was used to seal the can. “LEAD”!Another tragic death occurred to an expedition trying to reach the North Pole by dog sled. They ran out of food and starting eating the dogs. They died of overdose of vitamin “D” in the dogs’ liver.Every year Sportsmen fly into remote regions and without any warning whatsoever and did everything perfect they still become another statistic. One person that lived to tell about it ran out of water. So he filled his canteen up and dropped a couple of iodine water purification tabs in it and fallowed the directions perfectly. What was the life threatening results? He was allergic to iodine!The most common I know of Alaska is BRUCELLOSIS caught from cutting yourself during field dressing from Caribou blood, Giardia and Tularemia from beaver ponds to name a few. Where there are beavers and you drink the water is a very good chance you will contract one of their parasites and bacteria’s.

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from Mark-1 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I don’t know of any private survival schools, but there are obscure college courses at various locations. I know there was a Pa University having undergrads playing Neolithic Hunters making stone tipped javelins and atlatls. These kids then hunted deer successfully. I saw that on PBS-TV.The American Mountain Man outfit has a program of 1830-ish type of outdoor/survival skills that seems to match the Fairchild USAF program…somewhat. I think a person has to be rather whacked out to voluntarily do “aliments du pays” for any length of time.I did US Military basic survival school and then did two “refresher’s”. That survival thing gets old real quick.The McCandless Thing has gone on for 50,000+ years. It’s nothing new. Men have always pitted themselves against Nature. Artic and Antarctic exploration has at least two instances of major disaster in the McCandless Mode by organized, seasoned explorers. I see no difference.

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from ishawooa wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Out of boredom I read the book in a couple cold evenings a few years ago. The book and movie make considerable hoopah about one of many idiots who venture in above their heads into an uncertain environment. Similiar occurances happen in the Rockies every year, lost people who turn up dead or maybe not at all. Usually someone who has no business there alone. By the way the McCandless kid's rifle of choice was a Nylon 66 like the ones we have cussed and discussed. Krakauer made a good effort insofar as research and well written storyline. May McCandless' soul rest in peace since his life obviously was not blessed with that desirable quality. This is a gun blog so let's get on to a better topic unless you want to hear about the guy whose tracks lead into the desert nearby and suddenly stopped on bare ground, or the girl out jogging near Lander who left no further trace of her existance, or the Fish and Game plane that crashed somewhere out of Dubois which went undiscovered for years. Maybe you want to hear about the bigfoot near Pahaska. Or maybe we could just talk about long range 7 mm magnums at 3400 fps versus .270 Win. at 3100 fps and which is preferable...yep I'm rambling again.

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from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I felt truely sorry for this kid when I read his story of life and tragic death. He seemed to be searching for solice;maybe death finally stopped his search for it?

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Buckstopper, hunting and fishing regulations do not apply to Native Americans... they are not poaching when they shoot a moose in the forehead anytime they want even if it's a .22 to the forehead at 3 AM while they are canoeing beside him in the mid-summer.

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from Jim in Mo. wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

JackRabbit,There are weekend and weeklong courses out there but they're a joke as far as giving someone the skills to do what this young man tried. If your young enough join the military and apply for all the ranger/special ops. courses you can. Even then no one should take on a task like this so underprepared. This guy had a death wish and didn't know it.

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from Visitor wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

buckstopperYour dad used to say "Do not mistake education for intellegence!"Smart Fella!

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from JackRabbit wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Speaking of survival skills, does anyone know of a good survival school anywhere in the US? It's one thing to read books and magazine articles and try a few things on a weekend jaunt, but to have an expert show you first hand is another thing altogether. I'd love to sharpen my skills with something like this. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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from Dom wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I did a little bit of "McAndlessing" myself a few years ago. For a month, I lived on a beach in coastal BC off rice and fish and berries I harvested. It was great. However, I knew what I was getting into; I had a map and compass and knew where to get help if needed. I also had no dreams of surviving there indefinitely. I later tried to do the same in the BC interior but failed. I hope to repeat such an experience soon. There is nothing quite like it.I read "Into the Wild". It is a great book. It was an inspiration. It showed me what to do and what not to do when I did my own survival expeditions.For those of you who like this book, try "Magnetic North". It's the story of a man who crossed Canada by foot, canoe and dog sled.

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from dartwick wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

If a poor shot, shoots enough elk with a .22 - one will eventually die.Im not saying that happened in this case but plenty of people can kill an elk with the smallest of guns when they dont have anything else to do.

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from buckstopper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

JimMy dad used to say "Do not mistake education for intellegence!"Mike,Indian poachers used to use a .22 on moose and elk. A shot in the lungs and wait on them to bleed out.Some folk equate Indians with being great hunters. They hunted for survival not sport. Their techniques would be frowned upon today.

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from Carney wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

PS = The best wilderness story on video in my humble opinion is the story of Richard Proenneke = Alone In The Wilderness. I have a friend who met the old character before he passed on.A few minutes of the story can be seen on YouTube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsfB6oJ55wM

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from Carney wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I agree with Dave and appreciate everyone's good, frank comments.My 2 cents = "There are lots of very bright young people; not many wise ones!"

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from Dr. Ralph wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I know I've read somewhere about a trapper who walked across the Yukon or Canada or Alaska or some crazy shit like that with only a Ruger MKII .22 pistol and a bunch of traps. Came back months or years later in fine health with thousands of dollars of pelts. Anyone out there can clue me in or verify this story... seems like maybe I read it in an O'Connor book.This guy just didn't have a clue, obviously. A little more experience would have gone a long way.

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from Gary wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I think the fact that life in America is becoming ever more claustrophobic forces people to take risk that they might not otherwise take. I don't know this for a fact, but I honestly think this phenomenon is partly what is driving the extreme sports craze.

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from Mike wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Avoid the movie version of this story at all costs. The book was well written and quite balanced in its view. It included the perspective of McCandless' parents, friends and people he met along the way who generally adored him, and the folks up in Alaska who thought he was a misguided idiot who paved the way for dozens of other misguided idiots to try to kill themselves in the wilderness. Sean Penn took this interesting, balanced story and made McCandless into a flawless Christ figure, tormented by the failings of his parents, who dies a beautiful, peaceful death doing exactly what he wanted. It was an awful waste of time.By the way, McCandless supposedly killed an elk or moose (can't remember which) with a .22. Seems to me that he wouldn't have the skill or knowledge to kill such a large animal with a .22, given that he didn't know enough to clean the kill properly or stop the meat from rotting.

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from jstreet wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Bottom line.A person who has acquired the finest formal education is still an idiot without the common sense to apply it.Jim

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from Thomas wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Sometimes the most educated people make the worst mistakes. McCandless may have taught be was prepared, but mother nature has a way of making a fool out of you. We all make mistakes, every one does, but the ability to realize our mistakes and take control of it, is what keeps us alive.Tom the Troll

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I love Sean Penn the actor. I just can't get into Sean Penn the intellectual, Sean Penn the writer, Sean Penn the director or Sean Penn the activist. All these other incarnations just end up making him look like Sean Penn the pretentious douche bag.That's why I never bothered to see the movie. Sean Penn wrote the screenplay and directed it.

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from KingFisher907 wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

uhhh no...he was just an idiot..and now he's a dead idiot...

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from J. Barthelt wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

The book was great, but the movie was pure crap. Don't waste your time with it. Penn ruined it.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

JackGood search Sir!I’ve hunted every environment on earth from swamps to arctic conditions. I can tell you all the beauty I have seen. But all that beauty has one thing in common. GIVEN THE CHANCE, ALL THAT BEAUTY WILL KILL YOU!

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from The Trout Underground wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

The concept of the "outdoors" is so removed from most of our lives that it's easy to romanticize it beyond recognition.In McCandless' case, wilderness wasn't a beautiful place full of things that didn't want to be eaten, but a utopian vision.McCandless seems to generate polarized responses from readers. Some say he's just another idiot, while others understand at least a part of what he was trying to do while recognizing that he was doing it very poorly.My own take was that he was running to this idealistic wilderness without realizing that once he arrived, the demons that drove him there would be standing in his shoes with him.Like Buckaroo Banzai said, "No matter where you go, there you are."

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from Clay Cooper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

People do a lot of stupid things from climbing mountains to want to be survivalists like Jim Gallien. There is one piece of equipment that I have purchased 2 weeks ago that may have saved their lives. I’ve tested it and the darn thing works and only the size of a toss away camera. It’s called “SPOT” or EPRB, Emergency Personal Radio Beacon updated with GPS. Go hide in the wilderness and if you get lonely and want to meet a lot of people real quick? Press the 911 button and you will have the world coming your way! I’ve come to the conclusion it’s a must have and an insurance policy that you cannot go without. Be a great must have for every Boy Scout that goes on a Camping trip. The parents can track their location and gives them a piece of equipment superior to a cell phone in case of emergency and to let them know they are ok.WWW.findmespot.com

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from jack wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

From wikipedia:Alaskan Park Ranger Peter Christian wrote: “I am exposed continually to what I will call the ‘McCandless Phenomenon.’ People, nearly always young men, come to Alaska to challenge themselves against an unforgiving wilderness landscape where convenience of access and possibility of rescue are practically nonexistent....When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did wasn’t even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic, and inconsiderate. First off, he spent very little time learning how to actually live in the wild. He arrived at the Stampede Trail without even a map of the area. If he [had] had a good map he could have walked out of his predicament...Essentially, Chris McCandless committed suicide.”

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from dartwick wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I find the story interesting and have Daves perspective.But almost as interesting is the reverential attitude so many people have towards what was basically a kid with out the sense to take care of himself.

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from Chad Love wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

Read the book a couple years after it came out. I'm not into mountain climbing but I admire Jon Krakauer's writing so I've read "Into Thin Air" and "Eiger Dreams" as well.But "Into the Wild" is by far his best book.

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from buckstopper wrote 5 years 33 weeks ago

I remember that story from an episode of ABC's 20/20. The guy was lost but had plenty of food but died of eating a poison plant he thought was a type of potato. He was found in an old bus used as a hunting camp. Sad tale.

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