Monday, September 6, 2010

Magic Bus - Into the Wild

Alaska has had its share of famous traveler's; Capt Cook early on and recently a young lad called Chris McCandless aka Alexander Supertramp. The book and movie "Into the Wild" have made the kid famous.
He came to Alaska to discover himself and did well enough to survive off the land (subsistence living) for over 100days. This requires some considerable skill but he also was way under prepared and forgot the some essentials which led to him starving to death in a remote area north of Denali NP (18years to the day I was there!).His home away from home and final resting spot was an old Fairbanks school bus aka the Magic Bus parked in the middle of nowhere along the Stampede Trail.The bus has become a pilgrimage sight of sorts to backpackers all over. Sadly many of these folk didn't learn from watching the movie or perhaps they didn't finish the book because the Stampede trail continues to claim lives. 3 days prior to me walking the trail a female backpacker was killed attempting to cross one of the glacial rivers, she fell and her backpack held her under the water.Walking the Stampede Trail was a beautiful trail leading to the bus 20miles from where you park your vehicle. I was warned by numerous locals and even a park ranger about the river crossings but when it came to it my long legs and that I use trekking poles make river crossings much easier than it was built up to be...I also crossed it the correct place and at the optimal time of day.As I walked around the corner of the trail to find the bus I felt something stir inside me, it happened again sitting inside the bus...I was surprised to have felt anything as I normally remain aloof to the touchy-feely crap associated with places...the place really did have a feeling to it...I guess it was striking a chord with how it easily it could be me through some simple errors finding my end in an isolate corner of the world.
I spent a couple of hours at the bus, taking the typical photo's, reading the graffiti on the bus and plaques to his memory. I had planned on lunch there but it felt weird to be eating were he starved so I walked back to a decent blueberry patch and soaked up the sun before the return trip along the trail.Remember Alexander Supertramp's words of wisdom - "The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."