Finally, the bus made famous in the 1996 book “Into the Wild” has been unceremoniously yanked from the backcountry along the Stampede Trail where it has sat for the past six decades.
The abandoned bus was the site of the 1992 starvation death of 24-year-old Virginian Christopher McCandless. His ordeal was depicted in the book, by Jon Krakauer, and in a 2007 feature film.
The Alaska Department of Transportation and the Alaska Army National Guard collaborated to get the bus out of the wild where, over the years, it has served as a beacon for many trying to retrace McCandless’ footsteps.
There have been scores of rescues and searches and at least two hikers have died trying to cross the Teklanika River near the decrepit, long abandoned bus – Fairbanks Transit Bus 142. It routinely lured adventurers attempting to retrace McCandless’ steps for whatever reason. It was dumped on state land in about 1960 near the boundary of the Denali National Park and Preserve.
McCandless in 1992 could not get back across the river and died of starvation after living for about 114 days at the bus. His death, and the controversy following publication of “Into the Wild,” are not seen by all as a sort of heroic tragedy. It rather is seen as a gritty and not unexpected testament to what happens when you venture into Alaska’s wilds unskilled and unprepared and unaware.
Denali Borough officials have wanted the bus gone because of the deaths and rescues and searches that cost time and money. It was a continuing danger.
The only question we have about the removal is: Why did it take the state so long?