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Chris McCandless Journey Map
Transcript of Chris McCandless Journey Map
Sarah Whitsett, Carson Key, & Shyenne Ore
Chris moved here after being born in California to Billie Johnson and Walt McCandless. This is where he pursued his education up until the time he graduated in 1986, he was accepted into Emory University.
“In truth McCandless had been raised in the comfortable upper-middle-class environs of Annable, Virginia.”
Chris first visited Alaska in 1989.
He ended up here April 25, 1992. This is where he met Jim Gallien. Jim Gallien is the man that was kind and sympathetic enough to give Chris a ride to his final destination, the Stampede Trail. After dropping Chris off, Gallien almost contacted the authorities out of concern for Chris' safety.
"Fairbanks had always attracted a lot of weird characters, but he was wacky even by Fairbank's standards."
During his time at Emory Chris discovers secrets about his fathers past that led him to break things off between himself and his parents.
Chris was a successful student, he started the school newspaper called the Emory Wheel where he positioned himself as a strong Republican and often wrote harshly towards Democrats.
Chris graduated with a 3.7 GPA. After graduation he told his parents he would be gone for a while.
He donated 20,000 dollars to an organization to prevent world hunger before disappearing.
“In May 1990, Chris graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, where he’d been a columnist for, and editor of, the student newspaper, The Emory Wheel, and had distinguished himself as a history and anthropology major with a 3.72 grade-point average.”
Emory University, Atlanta GA
Detrital Wash, Arizona
Gulf Coast and Mexico-Texas Boarder
Salton City, California
Teklanika River, Alaska
"The Magic Bus."
Carthage, South Dakota
Young Chris McCandless before cross country
Chris's abandoned Datsun in the Detrital Wash.
Wayne, Chris, and Wayne's wife.
Last known photo of Chris at his "Magic Bus."
May 1, 1992
Chris begins to travel west to Arizona. The car he was traveling in, his old Datsun, succumbed to a flood. He was forced to abandon it along with many other belongings. One of the most treasured of these items was a guitar that his mother used to use to sing him lullabies as a child. The car is eventually found by some park rangers.
“When the rangers pulled off the tarp, they found an old yellow Datsun without license plates. A note taped to the windshield read, “This piece of shit has been abandoned. Whoever can get it out of here can have it.”
Chris stole a bike from a man named Ernie and pedaled to Northern California. There, he got a ride from a woman named Jan. Jan thought Chris (Alex) was a lot like her own son who was traveling the world. After there departure, Chris continued to send Jan letters to keep in touch.
“Sixty miles south of the Oregon line, near the town of Orick, a pair of drifters in an old can pulled over to consult their map when they noticed a boy crouching in the bushes off the side of the road.”
Here Alex gets a ride from a man named Wayne Westerberg. Wayne gives Alex a job working at a grain elevator. Alex and Wayne become very close companions. Wayne eventually got arrested and Alex was forced to move on.
“Carthage, South Dakota, population 274, is a sleepy little cluster of clapboard houses, tidy yards, and weathered brick storefronts rising humbly from the immensity of the northern plains, set adrift in time.”
“On the afternoon of September 10, driving out of Cut Bank after buying some parts for a malfunctioning combine, he pulled over for a hitchhiker, an amiable kid who said his name was Alex McCandless.”
Chris McCandless Kayaking in the Gulf
Bullhead City, Arizona
Chris McCandless, Fairbanks Alaska
Alex crosses the Mexico border in a kayak. He tries to travel towards the Gulf Coast and is eventually given a ride by some Mexicans. Once he arrives at the coast he explores many areas in his kayak. One day, he got into some really rough waters and almost drowned. This causes him to abandon his kayaking days and return to America.
“Caught by immigration authorities trying to slip into the country without ID, he spent a night in custody before concocting a story that sprang him from the slammer, minus his .38-caliber handgun, a “beautiful Colt Python to which he was much attached.”
Alex decides to temporarily settle down in Bullhead, Arizona. He stays in a trailer and gets a job at McDonalds. McCandless respects rules that are enforced at his job (like wearing shoes AND socks), but he lets others know his resentment by taking off his socks as soon as his shift was over. Although they find him strange, Alex is on good terms with his coworkers. After about half a year, Alex contacts his friend, Jan, and decides to leave town and go with her and her husband.
“It’s a good place to spend the winter and I might finally settle down and abandon my tramping life, for good..” At the time he wrote these words, he was holding down a full time job, flipping Quarter Pounders at a McDonald’s on the main drag, commuting work on a bicycle.”
Alex begins to head towards Alaska and sets up a camp just outside of Salton City. He was picked up one day by a man named Ronald Franz on his way to the city. The two became very close and Franz ended up asking Alex if he could adopt him as his own grandson.
“Franz took these harangues in stride and in fact delighted in the boy’s company. An accomplished leatherworker, Franz taught Alex the secrets of his craft; for his first project McCandless produced a tooled leather belt, on which he created an artful pictorial record of his wanderings.”
Alex's last stop before heading to Alaska was Carthage, South Dakota. Wayne had gotten out of jail and Alex decided to work for him for a bit. He then decides to head to Alaska.
“During those four weeks in Carthage, McCandless worked hard, doing dirty, tedious jobs that nobody else wanted to tackle: mucking out warehouses, exterminating vermin, painting, scything weeds.”
Chris crossed the Teklanika River and found a bus a little ways off. He tried to continue his trip, but ended up having to go back to the bus. After two months, Chris decided he wanted to head back home but realized that it was impossible due to the flooding river. Chris eventually starved to death due to a chemical given off by seeds. Nineteen days later, his body was found in the bus by some hunters.
“When he’d first crossed the river, sixty-seven days earlier in the freezing temperatures of April, it had been an icy but gentle knee deep creek, and he’d simply strolled across it. On July5th, however, the Teklanika was at full flood, swollen with rain and snowmelt from glaciers high in the Alaska Range, running cold and fast.”
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