bobenns wrote: it really became his own special madness. An obsession so powerful that it destroyed him.
Well, that's not exactly what I meant. I don't mean to judge the guy and would not use words like madness or obsession. What destroyed him or his life was partly just some bad luck. I mean it COULD have gone well (e.g. if only the swollen Tek river hadn't been in his way). But by deciding to step into the wilderness rather badly prepared (I mean intentionally), he consciously got himself into a high-risk situation and had to bear the consequences. No, no, I don't think he wanted to die, not at all, but I believe that his "plan" somehow included the risk and thus the possibility of failure.
Don't take my use of these words obsession and madness as a judgment or condemnation of Chris. I don't mean it that harshly. I completely sympathize with him. I'm just trying to understand what happened. He wasn't in control after some point out on the Stampede Trail.
When I stop and think about it I always get down to this "why didn't he just find another way out or make a signal fire to attract attention". He was only 20 miles out. He was resourceful. He could have walked out the other side and he did have a road map that showed enough detail for him to figure out the other route to walk out. Personally, if I was injured and too weak to make my own way I would make a fire and then put on a lot of green material, moss etc and make one hell of a cloud of smoke. Smoke will always bring someone to take a look, especially in fire season. I'd have been doing that when I couldn't cross the river.
It seems when he couldn't cross the river that he just gave up trying to leave and went back to trying to live off wild game, but he was already starving and being affected by it. He was so intent on living off the land. Its like he just accepted that his fate was to remain there.That's the obsession and madness right there. He was in a weakened state and his brain didn't function properly. We are talking about a smart guy who started out on this adventure, a very intelligent guy. He found his way out of the canals in Mexico and other little episodes he had. He was strong and athletic in the beginning. Its like he just shut down when he couldn't cross the river. But he was already suffering from malnutrition and some injury. He even wrote in his journal that he was "trapped" in the wild. He didn't believe he could find his way out of his predicament. His mind was affected. This compounded with his rejection of materialism, main stream society and family. In his own mid he had no other choice but to remain at the bus. His fate was sealed then. Many others would have probably died trying to get out rather than stay there and starve.
This obsession he had with the "Wild". He went on and on about it to his friends back in the south, he couldn't wait to get out there and really believed he could just live like a character out of a novel with a rifle and handful of salt. Everyone he told about it tried to temper his ideas with some common sense, but he would have none of it. Even Jim Gallian (who played himself in the movie) gave him the boots because he knew he was so ill equipped and even offered to take him and get outfitted, but Chris insisted that he could handle anything that came up. That pretty much describes an obsession for me. We all have our obsessions from time to time, some of us worse than others, usually a special car, motorbike or a woman perhaps, a particular accomplishment or goal. The obsession prevents us from seeing things realistically that other observers can see. We do things that others see as stupid or crazy in our pursuit.
Some info on the effects of starvation;
"The body temperature begins to fall in the first day of the period of starvation, and continues falling, so that a loss of ten or more degrees below the normal of 98.60 F. may occur.
In extreme cases muscular action is no longer possible; there are vertigo and faintness on raising the head, the voice is lost, and gradually the nervous system succumbs to languor and general prostration; the mind becomes more and more dull, listless, and even idiotic, the victim being unable to describe his condition or express his wants. He may have hallucinations, insomnia, and dreams, in which are often pictured scenes of plenty."
Starvation eventually brings madness.
I don't think he wanted to die, but he seems to have just accepted it as fate when there was still plenty of time to save himself. The last self portrait and the message shows he had completely accepted it. Its so sad, at 24 life is still just beginning.
There is no greater scripture than nature, for nature is life itself.