Saturday, November 10, 2007

Goodbye Portrait



Holding a note that reads: "I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may God bless all!" Chris McCandless, August 1991


15 comments:

kristen said...

I just started Into the Wild today.

susan said...

it mentions this picture. i'd love to hear your thoughts.

rebekka said...

Su, I'm coming to town tomorrow! I'll be in Birmingham until Thursday and I would love to see you. I know you have a lot going on with school so if you can't get together I understand! But if you can will you email me at manleyandrebekka@mac.com?
I don't know where I put your email address.

susan said...

I'm JUST now reading this comment Rebekka! I was at school from 9-9 yesterday! I'll call you later. I HATE HATE HATE that I missed you.

My e-mail address is my entire name at mac dot com, by the way.


susan

rebekka said...

Girl..I totally understand! I'll be back in town again! Good luck with everything...man!

Charles Lloyd said...

In June 1990, after graduating from Stanford, I went hiking on the John Muir Trail (Pacific Crest Trail) for about 75 miles, southbound from Yosemite Valley. One day I encountered another solo hiker in khaki shorts with a bushy beard who was headed north so I stopped and chatted briefly with him. He didn't say much but did say he'd come up from Mexico, when I asked. I was amazed he'd come so far so I never forgot that encounter and I still vaguely remember what he looks like all these years later; he was very gaunt.

I saw "Into the Wild" last night for the first time and now I am starting to think that guy was Alex Supertramp since the movie shows him in the Tahoe area only two months later, which would be just about right.

Now this will drive me nuts. Almost everyone else I met on the trail was more outgoing and friendly so I spent more time with them. This guy was different -- very quiet and didn't seem to want to get to know me. I wish I had gotten a better vibe and gotten to know him better because now I'll never know if it really was McCandless. But the pictures I've seen of him do fit my (fading) mental image from 18 years ago.

Charles Lloyd

susan said...

Wow, Charles that is an amazing story. It wouldn't surprise me if that was Chris McCandless. I believe that Jon Krakauer's book mentions that he spent some time on the Pacific Coast trail. You must read it if you haven't already.

The majority of my "backwoods" hiking experience took place on the Appalachian Trail between Springer and Blood Mountain. I had the same experience with the people on the trail (many of whom had planned a through-hike). They were very friendly and talkative. It would mark your memory to meet someone who wasn't.

My vote is that it was him.

s.

Anonymous said...

is this picture for real? the book said he left the note, but didn't say he took a picture. if it's real do you know where to find other real pics? thanks.

susan said...

Yes, this picture is real. If I'm not mistaken, it was first published in the Washington Post. (I just pulled it from there. They have since taken it down.) There are several images from C.M.'s camera still available on-line if you do a Google image search.

That's really all I know about that, though.

susan said...

Oh, and the book does mention this picture, actually.

CJ said...

Some more pics

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chriso2000/

susan said...

wow.

Anonymous said...

i read "into the wild' for a Nature Journaling course. i loved the book..a very moving story written by an amazing author!! I have been researching photos, comments and articles...a wealth of information available. thanks for the pix!

Jessy Luke said...

I just finished reading Into the Wild, and I was amazed by the somewhat triumphant story of Chris. I can understand why many would think that he was a crazed nutcase that was obviously insane, but I know that he was something more than that, and instead of what most thought, he was an intelligent, and daring individual that I personally believe died in a way fitting for a man of his spiritual being.

susan said...

Jessy,

Really? I definitely don't think that Chris was insane, but he was very very young and high on the hubris that infects every person in their early twenties as far as I can tell. I think I would have liked to have known what he could have done had he walked out on the Stampede Trail and lived a full life. I would have liked for him to die an old man with friends and family around him.

The thing that makes his death tragic is the amazing untapped potential his life could have realized.

In Alaska terms, he wasn't even really that far out into the wilderness.