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October 26, 2007



I completely understand where the people from Healy are coming from. I wouldn't want to have my little town bombarded by people who want to pay homage to someone who some people think to be an ignorant young punk. But at the same time, I think that tours should be made available for those who would like to see Bus 142, but maybe aren't experienced. I, for one, would definitely like to see it, being a big fan ever since I read the book. However, I'm nowhere near experienced enough to travel to the bus by myself. It's a nice idea to airlift it and put it somewhere else, but then people like me would feel slighted at not getting the full experience and seeing what McCandless saw in the short months he was there. But that's just me. :]


I don't understand where the people of Healy are coming from. Their town can't handle 100 tourists a year? i would think their local businesses would benefit from a little outside money. Further, they live right next to a national park (it is unclear to me whether the bus is in the park or just outside the park). Regardless, the bus is on public land. Anyone should be able to travel to it if they wish.

even though i will probably never visit the bus, i think it would be tragic to move it. in a way it is Chris's grave marker. if people that travel there connect with Chris or find a piece of themselves, i think that is great.

if someone travels to the bus knowing the Chris Mccandless story and dies -- that is certainly their own dam fault!!! Chris warned them of the dangers.



i believe this loops into a much bigger discussion about tourism and the concepts of loving our national parks/protected areas/spiritual areas/"meccas"/what have you to death, or at least to the point where we lose that which we love.

tourism in a small town can drastically change the culture of that town, essentially washing it down to another generic place. i can understand the residences of Healy's concerns and think it's a good idea to start thinking of these things before it becomes a problem too late or too expensive to slove.

but i also feel hesitant to support moving the bus. it does seem rather contradictory to what McCandless was all about. for that matter, so does taking pictures to post on facebook, or what have you.

i suppose any matter of this sort has all sorts of contradictions and predicaments. what i think is most important in considering all our options is how to we keep what we love, what we cherish and seek, so that we can enjoy it... but without the destruction of the very spirit we are trying to covet.


I don't agree with moving the bus. It is kind of like Christopher’s grave marker. I agree with the comment above that if people feel connected to Chris to the point of making the trip then let them.

It’s only 100 people a year, that's about 8 people a month. I would think it would be good for the town too...business wise...

If they were to clear out a path way for the inexperienced and actually make it a tourist spot, even by moving it to a national park. That will definitely attract more people! It would end up being like Grace Land or something. You don't want to commercialize it or exploit it. That wasn't even his motive for going out there, the point was to get away from everything.

Even if they do move it to a park, who's to say people won't still go to the original location anyway...

I say leave it alone. Leave it where it is, and appreciate it for what it is, even if you think Chris was an “ignorant young punk.”

There are a lot of inspirational people that we connect with that have passed away. Some find them poetic and "iconic", and others see them as careless, drug addicts...but we live in a world that allows us to have our opinions, that's our right.

You wouldn't demolish the house Kurt Cobain passed away in, or move Jim Morrison's grave just because of all the people they attract.

People have the right to go visit that bus, just like the towns’ people have the right to not be happy with it. I probably won't ever make it to see the bus, but it would be nice to have the option. Learning about his experience touched a lot of people and really made them question who they are and where they are going in life, and even as parents what affect we have on our children.

A lot of people also find release, and comfort in Chris's journey - It's something a lot of us probably want to do on a daily basis but don't have the coruage. You find your self feeling happy for Chris, that he took that chance.

Some call it ignorant, I call it brave! Why people (not just in Alaska) want to look at his journey negatively, but then those same people turn around and praise and encourage these young men and women to join the military,"to find them self," or "for free college," or "to serve our country." I don't understand...

When these men and women end up dieing horrible deaths, and if they survive, they have to live with horrible memories of the experience. Killing innocent families, watching their best friend get shot...dealing with all kinds of mental disorders when they come home...When most of these wars could be avoided if the leaders would get off their power trip!

Anyway, besides the 8 people per month that go see the bus, I doubt they are in town for more then a week, so the best thing to do is be courteous, and let people have their experience.

Life is too short to complain about something so small. (Compared to the larger issues the world is dealing with)

To the people that actually go, just remember that it is out side of a small town and be respectable – even if the towns’ people are not very welcoming, be nice anyway. If you leave a good impression, maybe they will eventually become more welcoming. Don't litter or vandalize the area on the way out to the bus, and Unless You’re Experienced just don't go out there! I wouldn't even smoke or try to camp out there, the last thing they need is some careless fool starting a forest fire!


Kenyon Kleemeyer

Can you sleep in the bus?


I think it's a beautiful thing, that McCandless' story is attracting people up north. However, anyone wanting to make the voyage, be respectful, it was his final resting place. It saddens me to hear stories of bus parts going missing, and windows being smashed. There is nothing wrong with visiting Bus 142, but I think scratching a message is acceptable. The fact that sick people travel as far north as Denali, just to steal or tamper with the memorial bus puts a lump in my throat. I intend to one day make the trip, but I will do so respectivily.


I would like to do the same travel that Christopher McCandless...


It's none of anyone's business whether the people of Healy move the bus or not. It's theirs. Its also their business how they handle the problem of numbers of southerners who haven't the first idea of how to live and survive in that climate coming up, putting their own lives at risk, and either needing rescue or needing thier dead bodies cleaned up.

Southerners and city people have the heartbreaking idea that wilderness is a commodity that they have a consumers' right to look at and they sadly have no idea that there is a cannon of skills and knowledge that are essential to living with and in nature. They think that nature is a big benevolent mother and that we all have some "instinctual" roadmap to survival.

I have not watched this film because I have not been able to bring myself to witness the beatifying of yet another pathetic combination of arrogance and romanticism. After suffering "Grizzly Man", wishing against hope that Herzog with all his genius would figure it out and give more than a cursory 30 seconds of screen time to a knowledgeable local (the aboriginal man close to the beginning) and seeing that the director left the wisdom out so as not to interfere with our voyeuristic romp, I don't want to have to watch this well-meaning boy kill himself because he's too arrogant to find someone whose life is imbedded in that landscape and learn from them.

Ruth Christina Haakonsen

Rest in Peas Christopher! May god be with you forever!!

Johnny KC

I don't think you can do anything about it. They should just move the bus or its gonna be taken apart. The whole trophy/fan thing is just stupid. Inspiration is free but taking smiling pictures is just sad. McCandless had his whole childhood making him into what he was and we all have our own journeys to travel. I hope to make my trip to what ever the metaphore of my bus 142 is. And I really don't care if anyone writes a book or makes a movie out of it. Nature is all that matter. And happiness is only worth something when its shared.


While they're at it, they should dam the river that blocked his way out and airlift all the moose to Canada, in case moving the bus doesn't stop people from coming.


Moving the bus won't solve the problem. People will journey to the spot he died, whether or not the bus is still there or not. Moving the bus will only anger people and potentially cause a greater influx of people.


small,quiet towns wish they would stay that way.
we should all be allowed to endanger our lives if we wish,and there's a good chance those who complain have some mixed up notion that it's their tax money being spent to protect the fool-hardy,as if they might have payed less tax otherwise.
don't go to the bus.
if you were inspired and got the message you would see the folly in that.
...and which of you knew him to be ignorant,arrogant,or otherwise?...and of what significance is it?
if it's gonna cause people to lose sleep,maybe they could start by removing the guest book.just a thought

anthony lazo

i completly understand where the small town is comming from but christopher mccandless was determind and wanted to live that life. to call him foolish in his beliefs i think is wrong. the guy was smart, read books, and graduated college. the way he took his life is very respectful and should be respected.
Me, myself would love to go up and visit and pay my respects to his resting spot, where it layed when he found it back in 92'.

Brandon g

Leave the bus! The residents of this small town only make a big deal about this because they have nothing to do all day. Chris never intended to die there so i dont understand why people think of him as ignorant. If others wish to follow him that should be their right. I love that picture of him leaned up on the bus, you can see that his soul is content even while his body was failing. If this place in the world compelled him so greatly to come it must be full of positive energy and we should all have the right to experience it.

Anthony Pierce

What's the best way to get across the Teklanika? Could you drive through with a large truck?
How do most people get there?


Althought I understand that some of the town's people want to move the bus so that it does not become a tourist destination, I do think it should stay in its' place permanently. The bus is in essence a grave which should not be desecrated. If anything, the people of Healy should make clear to those who want to make the pilgrimage that this is a long and strenuous hike and to be prepared, unlike poor Chris. Also, it breaks my heart that some people have vandalized the bus and stolen objects from it so the town's people might just want to act to preserve it despite what their individual opinions of Chris might be. One day I will travel on an extended road trip north to Alaska and I would hope to make the pilgrimage myself to bus 142. This story has affected me deeply in many ways as it has so many others. I only hope that the scene does not become ruined by the release of the movie.

Stanton Grace

Swim across it. Try not to die...
I've done it. If it's high, you may drown. Good luck. Chris's death will lead to many others....


It doesn't surprise me that the people of Healy greatly dislike the influx of tourists in town because, honestly, how many people anywhere actually like tourists? In general, they don't know much about the area, they're often rude and inconsiderate, and they can cause accidents because of their limited knowledge of the area. That can seem relatively harmless in developed areas, but in Alaska and any other sparsely populated, largely undeveloped area, tourists are not just an annoyance: they are magnets for misfortunes. Surviving in many parts of Alaska is not something that most Americans are prepared for, regardless of their connection to the story, and the people who understand that will have trouble taking seriously anyone who attempts to visit McCandless's camp without proper planning. While McCandless himself made several mistakes in his planning to go to Stampede Trail, he was hardly inexperienced in survival the way many modern people are. In fact, I believe that he would have found a way to survive until the river was fordable, had he not been poisoned. But regardless of whether what Chris McCandless did was right or wrong, I fully understand the desire to make a pilgrimage to the site of his death. Therefore, I would be deeply saddened if the town of Healy resorted to moving the bus or taking other measures to protect the site so that it was either more or less accessible to those who wish to see it. If someone experienced enough wished to make the journey and took proper precautions against accident, I can see nothing wrong with them paying their respects, but I can't imagine that anyone would allow inexperienced tourists looking for a good attraction to travel to the bus alone. The residents of Healy are perfectly reasonable in not wanting tourists attempting to make the journey because it’s dangerous, it’s irresponsible, and even if they believed that McCandless was an “irresponsible punk” himself, it’s also blatant disrespect of his memory. It's heartbreaking that anyone who identified with the story would be so careless and ignorant, that anyone who read the book or saw the movie could miss the message so completely and risk their lives unnecessarily just to gaze at a spectacle. McCandless was a captivating person, and his loss is a tragedy, but no one should go to pay their respects in a way that mocks his passions and beliefs. If you identified with his story, but know that you are not reasonably capable of SAFELY making the journey to bus 142, please, visit some other place he fell in love with. Go to Carthage, the Salton Sea, the Gulf of California. Or, if you simply must go to Alaska, if you are that deeply compelled, learn from the cautionary tales and come prepared for your quest. Learn survival skills, bring appropriate gear, and most importantly, try to balance the spirit of Alexander Supertramp with your own common sense. Pay homage to the great wanderer, but remember that he was young, and no matter how mature or intelligent he was, he still had decades of knowledge and experience to gain when he set out for Alaska. I never met Chris McCandless, but I have a feeling that if he did survive his first venture into the Alaskan wilderness and was able to rejoin civilization for a time, he would have returned to nature with a less idealized sense of what he would need by way of supplies and he would continue to survive on skill and passion but also on reason. His actions show that he was rarely one to take advice until he could prove to himself through his own experience that the advice was valuable and that he should indeed take it in the future. So, having experienced the realities of the “wilderness”, I doubt that he would take such severe risks again; the next time his risks would likely be much more accurately calculated. And finally, I encourage people to make their own journeys, to not just follow McCandless’s route but to venture to places far and wide that excite their senses and call to their spirits. If his Magic Bus becomes a simple tourist attraction, it’s destroying the magic. Find your own dream, don’t just latch onto his simply because he’s not around to still be living it. Pay mind to safety, respect nature, and have common sense, but by all means: stop sitting around daydreaming and actually live out your dreams. Is that not what McCandless was so admired for? The courage he had in doing what he truly desired? I’m sorry if I have offended anyone with these last few sentences: I never knew Chris McCandless and I do not presume to know what he would think or how he would act, I’m merely speculating based on my own experience and perspective on the story.


Kelsey, Excellent insight and comments on this. You are correct, there are many ways and places that an individual with an adventurous spirit can achieve the dream. Alaska is the most extreme of outdoor environments and should not be taken lightly.


I can't exactly say that I agree with the bus being moved.
I don't think that the word "bombarded" or "filled" could possibly be used in this situation while talking about the visitors to Christopher's "landmark" seeing as it's only an estimated 100 visitors in a year.

When I heard the story of Christopher and saw the movie (I know, I'm still yet to read the book) I thought of my older brother (and even my father) who sometimes seems to be in the same shoes as McCandless in the way that he just wants to get out and leave everything, but I think the only thing that stopped my dad and is stopping my brother is inexperience.
But seeing how they feel about the situation and what their feelings are I can't imagine how jipped they might feel if they ever did decide to visit the bus if it had been moved to a "closer" location.


If anyone is serious about going up there this year, drop me a note. I'm from TX and will be making the trek in August. I went several years back, but fell short of making the bus due to heavy rain and mud (didn't work well for my big, heavy truck). It was before any talk of the movie anyway, though I had read the book. Anyhow, drop me a note at texaspilot78 at gmail dot com if you are serious about seeing the site.


Erika, Read the book. I read it well before the movie came out and you'll find it to be much more compelling. Although the movie is very well done, the book goes into much greater detail about Chris's personality and the relationship with his family and others. You won't put it down, trust me.

Taylor Showell

As many have said in their comments, it is only 100 tourists a year! that is not many. It seams that this little number portrays that these people have genuine love for chris and beleive what he did was right. I am one of thos people. It was not the ending misfortune of his trip that was the point of Chris's odysee, but it was his look on life and his positive effect on who ever he came across. A man like that is never lost and it is his soul these "McCandless pilgrims" are going to find! Let them!! I feel completely inspired by how Chris thought and how he lived, as may young people like myself do. We will never forget you Chris..you inspired the best of us xox


mccandless's story has inspired me extremely. me and him are alike in many ways and frankly i don't think they should move the bus just for the tourists.

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