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Alexander Supertramp…A Follow-Up

Posted by bmac on April 29, 2008

I’m about to have my one year blog-aversary, if you will, and I thought I’d mark it with a follow up to the most popular post, hands down, in the one year history of this blog. This one, about Chris McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp.

For a great read, check out John Krakauer’s original 1993 article that inspired the book and film.

This story has extraordinary staying power, for a lot of reasons. It appeals to the spirit of wanderlust in all of us, the thrill of leaving the system behind and doing what you want, and it also has a tragic ending to boot. With pictures. It’s also interesting that fame has been posthumously cast onto a guy that probably never would have wanted it, a guy that, during his 2 year sojourn, didn’t tell anyone his real name.

It also helps that he was a good looking kid.

I still get about 2 or3 heartfelt comments a week on that post, now almost six months old. That’s pretty unusual, at least for me. When I wrote it, I was only commenting on the episode of “Iconoclasts” I’d seen on TV. I’ve since read John Krakauer’s book, and I hate to say, seen Sean Penn’s film adaptation. As much as I loathe Sean Penn, I will say he did an outstanding job adapting Krakauer’s book. He’s still a world class douchebag, but credit where credit is due.

In hindsight, there’s not really a political slant to the story. It is what it is. I wouldn’t call Chris a liberal now, in fact, I don’t think he had a specific political leaning at all. Like his own brief life, his politics were all over the map. It’s the rest of us that project politics onto him, myself included.

It’s hard to not like Chris McCandless, even if you think he was an idiot. There’s just something about his story that makes you hope it’ll turn out alright, even though you know it doesn’t. His beaming smile and enthusiasm for adventure are contagious, and that makes his tragic end all the more compelling.

It’s a complex story, and it doesn’t have a happy ending, but what it is, is thought provoking. That’s what makes it a fascinating topic, and one that has gotten so much mileage. Love him or hate him, he did what he had to do, and he did it with no regrets, at least as far as it seems. That last photo of him smiling, hours before his death, is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. Maybe that’s what grabs people, a guy that took his fate into his own hands, and fully accepted the consequences.

17 Responses to “Alexander Supertramp…A Follow-Up”

  1. Happy Anniversary! (almost)

    I’ve enjoyed following the comments on the other thread regarding this guy and I’m sure I’ll enjoy reading all the new comments on this one as well.

    Awesome blog Bmac! Glad I get to read you. 🙂

  2. S. Weasel said

    Happy oneth blogiversary!

  3. nicedeb said

    I haven’t seen the movie, and didn’t know the story. I’m reading it now, (but I won’t all at one sitting). It seems like such a waste. I wonder if my husband knows about this guy? He’s in to hiking, and reads Adventure magazine, etc. He appreciates stories like this one.

    Anyhoo…Happy one year blogiversary. Mine is coming up too. I like your idea of sharing your top posts.

    I think I’ll do that, too.

  4. bmac said

    Thanks guys!

    Getting congrats from three of my very favorite bloggers is an awesome way to start the day!

  5. Rosetta said

    Oh quit brown-nosing your readers already.

    Happy 1st blog birthday, bmac! You’re a good man and I’m glad you’re one of my innernettube buddies.

    And I like reading what you have to say.

    Even when what you have to say is “inbred chicken-fucking hillbilly fixer”.

  6. R. Sherman said


    I agree Krakauer’s book was/is an outstanding read. The thing that struck me about this young man, was his inability to realize that that we humans are a part of nature, too. In one sense, the rice, .22 rifle, his clothes, etc. are “natural” in the same way a beehive or beaver dam is. The only difference is the we humans are the only species which lug around a moral backpack which is filled with our concerns about Nature. I wonder whether he came to that knowledge, himself, although his journals make no mention of it.

    Regards and congrats on your blogiversary.

  7. bmac said

    Rosetta- Thanks man, the feeling is mutual my gay/lesbian man/woman friend!

    R.Sherman- Yeah, Chris’s journals were sparse at best, I wouldn’t even call what he wrote down “Journals.” They were more like notes, so we’re left to try to piece together what he was actually thinking.

  8. cranky said

    Congrats on the anniversary bmac. Mrs. bmac sent me pictures of Gunner and Mikey today. Are they in a permanent home with you now? They are so handsome. How is Maxine reacting to their antics?

    Although I haven’t read Alexander Supertramp’s book I think his story sounds like an interesting read and someday I hope to read it. I’ll pass on seeing Penn’s movie version though.

  9. bmac said

    Yep Cranky, they’re ours!

    Maxine just kind of puts up with them, but I think she secretly digs having them around. Kramer was her little partner in crime, and she missed him a lot.

    As far as the Supertramp thing, read the article I linked, it’s basically the book without any extra anecdodal information, and it’s free!

  10. Tony LaVanway said

    Nature,does not suffer fools.

    Tony LaVanway
    South Haven,MI

  11. RoHiT said

    The 1993 Article of Krakauer’s is just amazing after seeing the movie…!!
    Thanks a lot 4 that..
    I hate to ask but could u guide me how to get the Novel INTO THE WILD Online…???
    I want an E-Book… or any such thing… i desperately wanna read that inspiring novel… plzzzz

  12. …..I haven’t read any of the other comments, just your posting. A.S. is an Icon now….only to be ridiculed sortof by a man of strength statute and forethought. Evan Tanner….blogged about the fact he wasn’t on an A.S. expedition…he just needed to find “peace”….he went “prepared” into the desert in Sept 08 and died anyway of 112 degree heat…..now we have one from the heat and one from the true wilderness of Alaska. Good writing my friend. kudos…peace out gm

  13. Sohbet said

    Hey Admin! Thanks, Forever web pages..

  14. George said

    What did you do for your most memorable birthday and what age was it?

  15. mick said

    i can see why alex did what he did society sucks

  16. elizaway said

    Alex Supertramp reminded me of my little brother, nature-loving, non-materialist, so I felt punched in the gut -huge!- when I got to the end of the movie…and he was not rescued at the last minute. I loved Krakauer’s book, too, mostly for the other solitude-seekers he profiles. I read parts of it to my 3 sons (aged 13 and under), b/c I want them to know that one “little” mistake can kill you when it comes to surviving in the wild. I was struck by the account of McCunn planning his photo-trip into the Brooks Range, AK, planned it for a whole year as I recall, but somehow failed to arrange for the plane to come back to retrieve him in August. He also died out there in the wild. Wow. I admire these adventurers, b/c there’s so little space anymore to freely adventure in…but have someone else check your plans, so you can make it back safely!

  17. Soul said

    Alex seem to know the world.around.him very well, I think he could judge.the.things around.him in a sence of justic and rights. N..the.soul perpose of what the.human.being is.purely on this.earth.for…i.think chris death.is.more.of an inspiratiom than tragity…when someone truely.speaks from the heart of.the.soul.and.then.finds where.it.wants.to.be you cant do much more but.mother nature.take.her course, I bivev that alex was speaking from the.core.when.he.planned.this.journey I.dont.think he.knew that the journey would.b his.fate… But alex is.truely.inspiring that is.for.sure…..pitty ge.didnt.take.me.with him 😦

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