Do locals get angry when you mention Chris

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Do locals get angry when you mention Chris

Postby projectaero » Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:29 am

Hi everyone.
Since the book/movie/doco have come out, do the locals get frustrated about Chris's story.
Since they are already living there they wouldnt have the same feeling of getting away compared from big city life.
I would assume that they would be annoyed more than anything else.

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Location: Palmer, AK

Re: Do locals get angry when you mention Chris

Postby erikhalfacre » Sun Jul 10, 2011 11:05 am


I don't get angry. I get excited to talk about the state I love so much with someone expressing an interest. I know many other locals, and former Alaskans alike, who share the same point of view. There's several here on this forum you'll probably get to talk to.

However, there are a LOT of folks up there who are very annoyed by Chris, or maybe rather by what the perceive him to represent. A lot of that is misunderstanding, and some of that is just crotchety old sourdoughs being crotchety old sourdoughs. It's kind of Alaskan tradition to tell wild tales (some tall, some factual) about all the terrible ways you're likely to die if you step two feet off the beaten path in the Last Frontier, and tell all the tourists that they'd best just stick to the guided tours. If you are sincerely interested in learning though, most of us are more than willing to teach. If you ever found yourself in trouble, most of us will be there to help, and in a hurry. Most of them just honestly don't want to read your obituary, and if they figure you're a "Cheechacko" that doesn't know any better, they're trying to look out for your safety.

The truth of the matter anyway, is that most of the people most vocal about how 'stupid' Chris is and how they could survive ten times longer than him, probably have never been more than an hour from a McDonalds and are sitting in Fairbanks or Anchorage sipping on Starbucks. They're just projecting their shortcomings. Not all of Alaska is 'wild,' but 99.9% is. It's just that the vast majority of Alaskans live in, and rarely venture out of, the other .1%.
Erik Halfacre - Moderator

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Re: Do locals get angry when you mention Chris

Postby solovoyager » Mon Jul 11, 2011 1:58 am

I've never understood the level of condemnation towards Chris McCandless that many people seem to have. He made mistakes no doubt, which cost him his life - but many view his mistakes with a harshness that in my view, is a bit extreme and almost hateful.

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Re: Do locals get angry when you mention Chris

Postby Husky » Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:09 pm

My friends who live on Stampede Road aren't really angry but they are concerned about some things associated with the Chris cult that started after the movie came out.

There is an increase in traffic due to the Chris fad. Lots of people driving too fast through the residential area. People stop right in the road and take a picture of the road sign at the hiway intersection. A couple times every year someone steals the Stampede road sign. The Jeep tours back and forth all day and the ATV tours are really messing up the trail.

This summer there have been three old sedan cars abandoned along the Stampede Road (is that a Chris-cult imitation thing?). The latest one was burned in the gravel pit. There are a lot more camp sites with toilet paper left in bushes around 8-Mile lake. Ditto out at the Savage and Teklanika.

And, of course, there are the expensive rescues every few months.

The locals I know just don't see much to admire in the Chris story... what did he really accomplish? Abandoned his car in the desert, walked out a gravel road, illegally killed a cow moose and let it rot, illegally killed some birds and porcupines, ate them and curled up in a ball and died. Personally, I can see more to the story than that but I think that is what most of the locals around Healy think of him.
Here we are in the years
Where the showman shifts the gears
Lives become careers
Children cry in fear
Let us out of here! Neal Young

Don't let fear stand in the way.
There's nothing to it
but to do it! Husky

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Re: Do locals get angry when you mention Chris

Postby B_R » Sun Sep 01, 2013 1:20 am

Angry? That probably isn't the most accurate word. Irritated? That might be a little closer to the reality. As a Native Alaskan, having been born and raised in the great land up North, having done my share of hiking, camping, fishing and other such typical Alaskan activities, in, of course, the Alaskan wilderness, in my OPINION, McCandless was naive, ignorant, and to a certain extent, arrogant. His arrogance made him think that just because he had gotten himself into decent physical shape, and that he had the determination to live on his own and live off the land, he could venture into the Alaskan wild and survive, I guess, indefinitely, since there is no way of knowing how long he planned to stay out there.

Now, before I get completely skewered for calling him arrogant, let me also admit that I understand--as much as someone who has not been in his shoes, experienced his exact childhood (though come on, many, if not most, if not all, families have problems and are screwed up to a certain extent), and lived inside his head can--what he was about, what he was trying to do, and how he was trying to live. I 100 percent respect the idea of leaving material possessions behind, living off the land, and testing your mind and body, and seeing what you are capable of, and I agree with those notions I believe he had.

That said, running off to Alaska--the state nicknamed "The Last Frontier" for a reason, home of the smallest human population per square mile, home to grizzlies, glaciers, and places where the sun never sets in the summer and never rises in the winter--especially having never been there before, and especially as ill-prepared as he was, and thinking you'll have no trouble surviving, is, to me, arrogant. Also naive and foolish. On the ill-prepared note, he didn't even have a pair of Xtratuf rain boots (or some similar brand), which is basically a staple for all Alaskans the minute they come out of the womb. According to Jim Gallien, the local Alaskan who gave him a ride to the Stampede Trail, and who gave him a pair of Wellington rubber boots, McCandless didn't even have a compass, nor much else besides a 10-pound bag of rice, a semi-automatic rifle w/ ammo, a few books and some camping gear, and Gallien, more or less knowing McCandless wasn't geared up for surviving in the wilds of Alaska, or for very long at any rate, offered to take him to Anchorage to get him properly equipped and supplied. Arrogantly, or naively, or ignorantly, McCandless declined and went on his merry way.

In regards to the books McCandless brought along, while he apparently had one on local plant life, he obviously either didn't have one on what to do w/ meat taken from wild game, had one and didn't read it, or had one and read it but didn't care what it said. Any of those reasons equals either ignorance or arrogance, and my thoughts are he just didn't have one, nor had read one beforehand. If he had, he would've known the proper way to cure and preserve meat in the Alaskan wilderness, which is to dry it and make it into jerky (having done this w/ my family growing up). I'm guessing the moose meat would've lasted him considerably longer than a mere few days if he had preserved it that way, and it might have also resulted in less sadness, or anger (hard to tell his exact emotions from a sentence in a journal) at killing the moose in the first place. Furthermore, according to Gallien's account, McCandless did not have an Alaskan hunting license, so all the game he killed was done so illegally, which is at least selfish, and I would argue arrogant in eschewing authority and laws (but of course, wasn't that part of his dream? To eschew anyone and anything that didn't fit with his way of thinking?).

Before this turns into another novel about McCandless, let me conclude. As an Alaskan, do I get angry when hearing about McCandless? Certainly not. His life, and death, were in some ways sad. I believe he had a noble idea, which I applaud and respect, but one that was poorly executed. So poorly that it resulted in his death. Do I think he was some combination of arrogant, naive and ignorant? Certainly. And for him to be considered heroic, or to be immortalized as seems to be the case for many who know of him, that irritates me. So, angry? Not at all. Irritated? You bet.

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Do locals get angry when you mention Chris

Postby Christopherkaf » Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:43 pm

You are not right. I suggest it to discuss.
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