On Saturday, Alaska State Troopers reported the rescue of five Italian hikers in central’s Alaska Denali Borough. According to TIME the five tourists were rescued from a make-shift camp built after they visited the infamous “Magic Bus” made famous by Jon Krakauer’s 1996 best-seller Into the Wild.
As reported by CNN, the Stampede Trail out to the bus is approximately 20 miles long. And according to Alaska State Trooper spokesman Tim DeSpain, the hikers were located 13 miles from the trailhead.
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The hikers alerted rescuers using a satellite-based emergency device, reports TIME. They notified the International Emergency Response Coordination Center that they had a “medical emergency.” Rescuers then reached the stranded hikers by snowmobile, one of which suffered from severe frostbite on his feet
The infamous “Magic Bus” was final resting place for traveler Christopher McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp), popularized by Krakauer’s nonfiction account of McCandless’s travels, as well Sean Penn’s 2007 film adaptation of the story.
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The way the story goes, McCandless was raised in suburban Annandale, Virginia and graduated from Emery University in 1990. Following school, McCandless cut off communication with family, gave away his college fund to charity (roughly $24,000), and set out on a solo adventure, traveling across the western United States and documenting his travels in a journal.
He eventually hitchhiked up to Alaska and found himself at the Stampede Trailhead in April 1992. He spent over 100 days in the Alaskan wilderness, living inside the “Magic Bus” that had been abandoned by a construction company. Attempting to leave the area in July 1992, dangerously high water levels on the Teklanika River forced McCandless to turn back. He died weeks later due to what some hypothesize was misidentification and consumption of a toxic plant in the area.
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This is only the most recent case where hikers have been injured, stranded, and even killed trying to retrace McCandless’s steps. CNN reports that last year, a 24-year-old woman from Belarus was killed trying to cross the Teklanika, and in 2010, a Swiss hiker was killed by the same river.
While the story is a romantic tale of wanderlust, exploration, and self-discovery, it’s important to note the level of danger involved with the pilgrimage. While the outcome for many has been successful, the consequences for being ill-prepared can be disastrous.
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