Into The Wild - Lance Wood          

Into The Wild Essay

Into the Wild
By: Lance Wood
Imagine, opening your eyes to discover the vas, unseen wilderness. Waking up in a place without any yes’s or no’s, only you and your surroundings, hearing nothing but the sweet sound of Mother Nature. Listening to the tremble of your heart beating through your veins like a drum. Pondering on life and what is in store for you during this time of individuality and prosperity of the land. Really taking in natures grace to better determine what life truly means. Not many can say they have honestly experienced the wild, but of those few who have the memories will be cherished forever. The story of one man by the name of Chris McCandless is one of triumphant beauty that has inspired me to better understand his epic journey.
Chris was a young man in his early twenties with a bright and prosperous future ahead of him. He had graduated college with honors and qualified for Harvard just as his parents Walt and Billie had pressured him to do. Growing up in a home filled with expectations, differences, and wealth Chris was apart from his parents. He was a thinker, a believer, an ambitious person with the compassion for the wild and a hate for everyday society. Chris, unlike many was very bold, called it how he saw it, but had the self control to know when it was time to stop. Along with Chris I myself have inherited many of these same exceptional qualities. His story is one of honor, dignity, courage, and the gratification for the wild. It’s a story of inspiration for those who don’t fall into society’s lies, but into the truth of the soul, and the love for true beauty.
Chris embarks on his expedition alone, no money, no car, no phone, only the things that meant the most to him in his backpack. Filled with books from various philosophical authors, some rice and other items he comes across on his journey, his backpack is his life. He begins as a hitchhiker in the mist of an unbarring journey eventually leading him north to Fairbanks, Alaska. As he begins he is only a man amongst a world filled with greed and disgust. With the strength of his heart he conquers many obstacles within himself, such as no contact with any immediate family. Using an Alias, “Alex Supertramp”, he begins a journey not only within the land but within himself.
Along Chris’s path of righteousness he meets a lot of great people whom he gets very close with. So close to the point where these strangers considered him family, as did Chris. Hitchhiking across the country is indeed dangerous but Chris didn’t think about the danger. Instead he focused on the light at the end of the tunnel which was his reward. This determination took a great sense of bravery that is very admirable to many. Chris viewed life in a way that was unlike most Americans. He saw things with an eye that could see straight through it. He took risks and wasn’t afraid of the outcome. Using boldness as if it were a .50 caliber machine gun with a thousand rounds in it, unleashing the power without the fear of what’s at stake because you can always reload with logic and fire again. It’s that kind of character that truly led me to open my eyes and realize who I am. To not be afraid when backed into a corner, but to use words and logic to get to others hearts as well as my own, to stand for what I believe in.
After many months of hiking across the country, sleeping in places that would be looked upon as awful, and being judged as just another homeless guy, Chris finally arrives at his final destination. Gasping on the open land, open air, and the open heart of nature, Chris is now in Alaska. Walking along the Stampede Trail Chris is amazed by the honest beauty of the land. He uses word to describe the land that would be used to describe a precious diamond. Painting a crystal clear picture to try and imaging the beauty that you see in a dream or hear in a fairy tail. Endless greenery, pine trees the size of buildings, flowers flowing across the land like an ocean of colors. The crisp thin air flows through your nose giving a sense of being abandoned. But at the same time a cold chill gives you a sense of comfort and protection, you are now into the wild.
After many hours of hiking as well as a few nights of camping beside the river Chris stumbles upon a deserted bus with large markings, 142. As Chris approaches the bus he begins to get a feeling of weariness, but at the same time gives a sigh of relief realizing this could be a good sign. Finally inside the bus Chris discovers that this bus was once part of a running transit system, but was now turned into hunter’s temporary living quarters. With a small bed, a dresser, and a fire place that works also as a stove it makes for a good living area. Chris settles himself in and decides this will be his home for the next few months. With his maturity and knowledge he marks his territory with many philosophical speeches of freedom, and quotes from various authors. Books flourished the interior like a garden of knowledge. In his journal entries there is a set list of rules that proves his awareness with preparations: organization, food conserving and supply, self sufficient shower, and other principles that kept him grounded. This proved his will to survive because it shows that he didn’t get himself into a situation without any comprehension of what it takes to survive properly. It demonstrates the honor and responsibility of a young man with sincere morals.
As the snow begins to melt in late winter transpiring to spring, Chris is learning how to live off the land. Hunting and gathering his food just as prehistoric man did, he killed many animals, rodents, and other sources of food. Killing only in a means of survival, he still respects the land and nature. With a sufficient water supply from the Toklat River that flows from the glacier filled mountains, Chris has established a working shower to maintain personal hygiene. Keeping normal eating habits and water consumption, Chris is healthy for the most part. He spends his days thinking of life, family, other ways to survive, places to go, what book to read or write, and ultimately experiencing freedom. His days are now filled with serenity, being alone in the wilderness and waking up each morning not thinking about the last because there is just simply too much that has to be done. Chris is truly living off the land but one mistake could determine his demise.
When Chris first crossed the Toklat River it was in the mist of winter still and the water was only around knee deep without much power. As the spring begun and the sun grew hotter, in turn the snow on the mountains began to melt. Without any acknowledgement of the Toklat River sometime becoming impassible Chris there made his first mistake. During his time in the wild Chris finally decided it was time to head back to his family after almost two years. Little did he know the river would be suddenly unfeasible. With the water almost ten feet high and the roar of the raging rapids washing anything and everything down with it, Chris found himself at a stand off. This is a test of his courage and his mindset because when he first came to Alaska his mind was all set on what he was conquering. But now with it already been conquered he had changed his mind set to going home, however he must turn back and continue to live off the land.
With the seasons changing, Spring to Summer, Chris is at ultimate survival, not much hunting game around or rodents he is finding it hard to make a means for food. Out of his many books one is a botanist book describing all the plants that are edible in the wild and those that aren’t. Chris turns to a panic and begins to collect a bag full of roots, seeds, stems, and other pieces of various flowers that will be his source of food. After one day while he was in search for food he came across the “Eskimo potato”, which is sweet and good to eat in the spring but later becomes too tough to eat and inhabits poisonous alkaloids. Chris wrote in one of his last journal entries, “EXTREMELY WEEK. FAULT OF POT. SEED…” This later proved fatal when Chris McCandless was found in that same bus in September by a group of hunters. His remains looked week, contaminated, and had a sense of comforting tragedy. His family was alerted of their son and immediately they took a helicopter to the sight of their sons’ downfall and where he took his last breath. One can hardly imagine what it would be like to be the family, one can also hardly imagine what it would be like to be Chris. To lie dying in a bed staring at Gods Sun, life as you know it flashing before your eyes, gasping for that one last breath to keep your memories going, until finally you meet death with a smile on your face. For once in his life he lived with no regrets, and measured himself more than once to prove how important it is to not necessarily be strong, but to feel strong. That’s why it is so important to not just know of the story of Christopher McCandless but to understand and appreciate the journey. Chris was given a test of true courage, and a fate of ultimate sadness that proved to be fatal.
Chris did not die because of stupidity or ignorance. Upon my research I have discovered that he may have not eaten the wrong plant at all, nevertheless that the seeds, berries, and stems inside of the zip-loc baggie began to mold. Within that mold there is also a poisonous alkaloid that is deadly. It shuts down the bodies nervous system, destroys stomach digestion which later makes the person starve to death. Chris just so happened to finally hit his last break and later come to his death because of a common mistake that could happen to any of us. It wasn’t stupidity that killed him, it was survival.
His story is gratifying to those who don’t choose to live their life the way society tells them too. But otherwise lives their life a step at time with the picture of what life is really about. Boldness, courage, all testaments of how we were meant to live, not how one man or many men have told us to do but what life has told us. To be free and aware of nature, see things from a view which is unlike any other, and experiencing the wild in a way that you become one with it. Chris took a brave step and was awarded all the things we couldn’t ever dream of, no people, no society, no politics, just the true land, the earth, the world. It’s because of his journey that has allowed me to open my eyes and realize a whole other world apart from ours; it is because of Chris McCandless that I myself will one day step foot, Into the Wild…


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