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8 Burnside DISP- OLD FAVORITES507ENDCAP, 509ENDCAP
3 Burnside Americana- Alaska
27 Local Warehouse Americana- Alaska

Into the Wild

by

Into the Wild Cover

ISBN13: 9780307387172
ISBN10: 0307387178
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

 

 

Excerpt

THE ALASKA INTERIOR

April 27th, 1992

Greetings from Fairbanks! This is the last you shall hear from me, Wayne. Arrived here 2 days ago. It was very difficult to catch rides in the Yukon Territory. But I finally got here.

Please return all mail I receive to the sender. It might be a very long time before I return South. If this adventure proves fatal and you don't ever hear from me again I want you to know you're a great man. I now walk into the wild. --Alex.

(Postcard received by Wayne Westerberg in Carthage, South Dakota.)

Jim Gallien had driven four miles out of Fairbanks when he spotted the hitchhiker standing in the snow beside the road, thumb raised high, shivering in the gray Alaska dawn. He didn't appear to be very old: eighteen, maybe nineteen at most. A rifle protruded from the young man's backpack, but he looked friendly enough; a hitchhiker with a Remington semiautomatic isn't the sort of thing that gives motorists pause in the forty-ninth state. Gallien steered his truck onto the shoulder and told the kid to climb in.

The hitchhiker swung his pack into the bed of the Ford and introduced himself as Alex. "Alex?" Gallien responded, fishing for a last name.

"Just Alex," the young man replied, pointedly rejecting the bait. Five feet seven or eight with a wiry build, he claimed to be twenty-four years old and said he was from South Dakota. He explained that he wanted a ride as far as the edge of Denali National Park, where he intended to walk deep into the bush and "live off the land for a few months."

Gallien, a union electrician, was on his way to Anchorage, 240 miles beyond Denali on the George Parks Highway; he told Alex he'd drop him off wherever he wanted. Alex's backpack looked as though it weighed only twenty-five or thirty pounds, which struck Gallien--an accomplished hunter and woodsman--as an improbably light load for a stay of several months in the backcountry, especially so early in the spring. "He wasn't carrying anywhere near as much food and gear as you'd expect a guy to be carrying for that kind of trip," Gallien recalls.

The sun came up. As they rolled down from the forested ridges above the Tanana River, Alex gazed across the expanse of windswept muskeg stretching to the south. Gallien wondered whether he'd picked up one of those crackpots from the lower forty-eight who come north to live out ill-considered Jack London fantasies. Alaska has long been a magnet for dreamers and misfits, people who think the unsullied enormity of the Last Frontier will patch all the holes in their lives. The bush is an unforgiving place, however, that cares nothing for hope or longing.

"People from Outside," reports Gallien in a slow, sonorous drawl, "they'll pick up a copy of Alaska magazine, thumb through it, get to thinkin' 'Hey, I'm goin' to get on up there, live off the land, go claim me a piece of the good life.' But when they get here and actually head out into the bush--well, it isn't like the magazines make it out to be. The rivers are big and fast. The mosquitoes eat you alive. Most places, there aren't a lot of animals to hunt. Livin' in the bush isn't no picnic."

It was a two-hour drive from Fairbanks to the edge of Denali Park. The more they talked, the less Alex struck Gallien as a nutcase. He was congenial and seemed well educated. He peppered Gallien with thoughtful questions about the kind of small game that live in the country, the kinds of berries he could eat--"that kind of thing."

Still, Gallien was concerned. Alex admitted that the only food in his pack was a ten-pound bag of rice. His gear seemed exceedingly minimal for the harsh conditions of the interior, which in April still lay buried under the winter snowpack. Alex's cheap leather hiking boots were neither waterproof nor well insulated. His rifle was only .22 caliber, a bore too small to rely on if he expected to kill large animals like moose and caribou, which he would have to eat if he hoped to remain very long in the country. He had no ax, no bug dope, no snowshoes, no compass. The only navigational aid in his possession was a tattered state road map he'd scrounged at a gas station.

A hundred miles out of Fairbanks the highway begins to climb into the foothills of the Alaska Range. As the truck lurched over a bridge across the Nenana River, Alex looked down at the swift current and remarked that he was afraid of the water. "A year ago down in Mexico," he told Gallien, "I was out on the ocean in a canoe, and I almost drowned when a storm came up."

A little later Alex pulled out his crude map and pointed to a dashed red line that intersected the road near the coal-mining town of Healy. It represented a route called the Stampede Trail. Seldom traveled, it isn't even marked on most road maps of Alaska. On Alex's map, nevertheless, the broken line meandered west from the Parks Highway for forty miles or so before petering out in the middle of trackless wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. This, Alex announced to Gallien, was where he intended to go.

Gallien thought the hitchhiker's scheme was foolhardy and tried repeatedly to dissuade him: "I said the hunting wasn't easy where he was going, that he could go for days without killing any game. When that didn't work, I tried to scare him with bear stories. I told him that a twenty-two probably wouldn't do anything to a grizzly except make him mad. Alex didn't seem too worried. 'I'll climb a tree' is all he said. So I explained that trees don't grow real big in that part of the state, that a bear could knock down one of them skinny little black spruce without even trying. But he wouldn't give an inch. He had an answer for everything I threw at him."

Gallien offered to drive Alex all the way to Anchorage, buy him some decent gear, and then drive him back to wherever he wanted to go.

"No, thanks anyway,"Alex replied, "I'll be fine with what I've got."

Gallien asked whether he had a hunting license.

"Hell, no," Alex scoffed. "How I feed myself is none of the government's business. Fuck their stupid rules."

When Gallien asked whether his parents or a friend knew what he was up to--whether there was anyone who would sound the alarm if he got into trouble and was overdue Alex answered calmly that no, nobody knew of his plans, that in fact he hadn't spoken to his family in nearly two years. "I'm absolutely positive," he assured Gallien, "I won't run into anything I can't deal with on my own."

"There was just no talking the guy out of it," Gallien remembers. "He was determined. Real gung ho. The word that comes to mind is excited. He couldn't wait to head out there and get started."

Three hours out of Fairbanks, Gallien turned off the highway and steered his beat-up 4 x 4 down a snow-packed side road. For the first few miles the Stampede Trail was well graded and led past cabins scattered among weedy stands of spruce and aspen. Beyond the last of the log shacks, however, the road rapidly deteriorated. Washed out and overgrown with alders, it turned into a rough, unmaintained track.

In summer the road here would have been sketchy but passable; now it was made unnavigable by a foot and a half of mushy spring snow. Ten miles from the highway, worried that he'd get stuck if he drove farther, Gallien stopped his rig on the crest of a low rise. The icy summits of the highest mountain range in North America gleamed on the southwestern horizon.

Alex insisted on giving Gallien his watch, his comb, and what he said was all his money: eighty-five cents in loose change. "I don't want your money," Gallien protested, "and I already have a watch."

"If you don't take it, I'm going to throw it away," Alex cheerfully retorted. "I don't want to know what time it is. I don't want to know what day it is or where I am. None of that matters."

Before Alex left the pickup, Gallien reached behind the seat, pulled out an old pair of rubber work boots, and persuaded the boy to take them. "They were too big for him," Gallien recalls. "But I said, 'Wear two pair of socks, and your feet ought to stay halfway warm and dry.'"

"How much do I owe you?"

"Don't worry about it," Gallien answered. Then he gave the kid a slip of paper with his phone number on it, which Alex carefully tucked into a nylon wallet.

"If you make it out alive, give me a call, and I'll tell you how to get the boots back to me."

Gallien's wife had packed him two grilled-cheese-and-tuna sandwiches and a bag of corn chips for lunch; he persuaded the young hitchhiker to accept the food as well. Alex pulled a camera from his backpack and asked Gallien to snap a picture of him shouldering his rifle at the trailhead. Then, smiling broadly, he disappeared down the snow-covered track. The date was Tuesday, April 28, 1992.

Gallien turned the truck around, made his way back to the Parks Highway, and continued toward Anchorage. A few miles down the road he came to the small community of Healy, where the Alaska State Troopers maintain a post. Gallien briefly considered stopping and telling the authorities about Alex, then thought better of it. "I figured he'd be OK," he explains. "I thought he'd probably get hungry pretty quick and just walk out to the highway. That's what any normal person would do."

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Kayla M, October 31, 2014 (view all comments by Kayla M)
Living in a beautiful place like Hawaii can be taken for granted. I know I have never really appreciated the magnificent wonders just on our island. The fascinating sites to go to, to see the true beauty of our islands; from our pretty flowers all the way up to the masculine mountains that stand tall and give a wonderful look to Oahu. In Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, it allows you to feel and see the harsh weathers of Anchorage, Alaska. Although Krakauer is not the actual person that went on this vigorous adventure, he still shows and tells of the miraculous journey Christopher McCandless took. The book made me appreciate that I live in a place of tropical climate, so we don't have to fight the brutal weather in Alaska. In the book, Chris McCandless came prepared for the Alaskan weather but he brought very little resources. With very little resources he also needed a shelter to keep him from freezing, in this case he used an old abandoned bus. In the bus another adventurer carved into the ceiling which shows the harshness of being alone in the Alaskan wilderness, "“Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness(14)”. It shows the harsh conditions Chris had to go through alone. He had no way to get out of the terror of loneliness, starvation, and frigid coldness of Anchorage. This book gave me a sense of action and adventure that I never had before. I also know now of how tough it is to live in the wilderness of Alaska alone, which makes me appreciate my home, Hawaii.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Kayla M, October 31, 2014 (view all comments by Kayla M)
Living in a beautiful place like Hawaii can be taken for granted. I know I have never really appreciated the magnificent wonders just on our island. The fascinating sites to go to, to see the true beauty of our islands; from our pretty flowers all the way up to the masculine mountains that stand tall and give a wonderful look to Oahu. In Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, it allows you to feel and see the harsh weathers of Anchorage, Alaska. Although Krakauer is not the actual person that went on this vigorous adventure, he still shows and tells of the miraculous journey Christopher McCandless took. The book made me appreciate that I live in a place of tropical climate, so we don't have to fight the brutal weather in Alaska. In the book, Chris McCandless came prepared for the Alaskan weather but he brought very little resources. With very little resources he also needed a shelter to keep him from freezing, in this case he used an old abandoned bus. In the bus another adventurer carved into the ceiling which shows the harshness of being alone in the Alaskan wilderness, "“Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness(14)”. It shows the harsh conditions Chris had to go through alone. He had no way to get out of the terror of loneliness, starvation, and frigid coldness of Anchorage. This book gave me a sense of action and adventure that I never had before. I also know now of how tough it is to live in the wilderness of Alaska alone, which makes me appreciate my home, Hawaii.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
EPascua, October 17, 2014 (view all comments by EPascua)
Being the oldest of three children, I have had to learn how to take care of not just myself, but also my younger siblings. Like normal siblings, we fight against each other, but even with the fights, we all still love each other and look out for one another.
Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer, is a mediocre novel with patches of well written emotional passages. I don't think that this book needed to have been written if Christopher McCandless had just been a little bit more reasonable and had taken some precautions to protect his well being which would have surely prevented his death at such an early age. I found the majority of the book to be extremely slow, and the events retold in this book seemed to be exemplifying the same exact ideas as other events. Although not my favorite memoir, there were some moments in which I connected and sympathized for the family and friends. Luckily, I have no close friends or family members that have suddenly disappeared and passed away, like Christopher McCandless, but I do have a younger brother. My brother is five years younger than me, and I love him very much. I am very close and protective of my brother, and like Carine, I too would be emotionally wounded if he was to unexpectedly pass away. When Carine first hears of her brother’s death from Chris Fish, her husband, “she began to scream . . . When [Chris] Fish tried to comfort her, she pushed him away and shrieked at him to leave her alone (141). ” Carine's intense reaction to her brothers death shows us how close the relationship was between the two siblings. Her world was a glass box which was shattered by an unforeseen bullet.
This book had many excellent scenes, but what took me back was the many events when Chris meets strangers along his journey. The amount of people he met kept growing and growing, and many times, the book would jump back and forth between his "friends" and it made me very confused. All in all, this book would not have been my first pick, but in some occasions, I found myself falling into the book and feeling for the family and their loss. Those were my favorite sections of the book, and those sections tugged at every single one of my heart strings
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307387172
Author:
Krakauer, Jon
Publisher:
Anchor
Author:
Krakauer, Jon
Author:
Various
Subject:
Regional Subjects - West
Subject:
Travelers
Subject:
Adventure and adventurers
Subject:
Hitchhiking
Subject:
West (u.s.)
Subject:
Alaska
Subject:
Adventure
Subject:
Biography - General
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20070821
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
3 MAPS
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.01x5.18x.70 in. .55 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Biography » General
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » History and Social Science
History and Social Science » Americana » Alaska
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Camping and Hiking » Hiking » Guides
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Lore and Survival
Sports and Outdoors » Outdoors » Mountaineering » Literature
Travel » North America » United States » Western States
Travel » Travel Writing » General

Into the Wild Used Trade Paper
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Product details 224 pages Anchor Books - English 9780307387172 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter....
"Synopsis" by , National Bestseller 

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter....

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