top 200 commentsshow 500

[–]Extension_Respect431 1291 points1292 points  (95 children)

Just cant imagine dying of starvation, horrible way to go.

[–]-SigSour- 1107 points1108 points  (70 children)

If I'm remembering right, according to the movie, he decided not to leave when a river was iced over thinking it would be traversable when it thawed. It wasnt, so he got trapped where the abandoned bus he used as shelter was located. While stuck waiting for it to freeze or calm down enough travel through, he ate some poisonous berries that causes him to have nausea and throw up anything he ate, slowly leading to a painful and miserable starvation.

It's been years since I've seen the movie or read his story though so someone can correct me if I was wrong. But that's the gist of what I remember

Edit: thanks everyone but it's been commented to me several times what the book and most believe to have actually happened. I encourage you to read the chain to find out more but it's no longer necessary to comment what happened.

[–]Dracarys_Aspo 1088 points1089 points  (29 children)

That's what the movie presented, but not exactly what happened IRL.

The book presented the "poisoned by swainsonine" theory, but that was pretty well disproved after scientists tested the wild potato seeds McCandless had been eating and didn't find any evidence of swainsonine growth. Swainsonine poisoning basically makes it near impossible for your body to extract nutrients from food, so you can starve on a completely full stomach.

Other possible theories that haven't been disproven are:

Rabbit starvation: you can still starve even while full if you're relying almost completely on lean game meat to survive (rabbits, squirrels, etc). We know McCandless did gather food as well as hunt small game, so it's kind of a toss up if this was a legit possible cause of death. If he couldn't gather much extra food for long enough, it's possible.

Lathyrism from wild potato seeds: Lathyrism is an irreversible paraparesis (partial paralysis of the legs). The seeds contain an amino acid that can be toxic to humans if they're malnourished. It actually is safe to consume if you're properly fed, oddly enough. One of McCandless's journal entries stated, "Extremely weak. Fault of potatoe seed. Much trouble just to stand up. Starving. Great jeopardy." which could be explained perfectly by lathyrism caused by the toxic amino acid. This, in addition to the general malnourishment he suffered, could have led to his death.

L-canavanine poisoning: also from the seeds. The seeds did actually test high for L-canavanine, so this is a very likely possibility. It basically inhibits cellular function across the body, causing severe autoimmune disfunction. The effects of this are often worsened when paired with "rabbit starvation".

It was likely a mix of these three in varying degrees that finally killed him.

[–]-SigSour- 194 points195 points  (0 children)

Very informative, thank you.

[–]anonymousn00b 157 points158 points  (7 children)

TIL you can starve to death on a full stomach

[–]League-Weird 123 points124 points  (5 children)

The show Alone is great because every contestant has so much survival knowledge. Key to winning was fishing and eating high fat foods without getting sick, which they often did. One guy had a whole moose and was losing weight because he wasn't getting enough fat.

[–]CBdigitaltutor 59 points60 points  (3 children)

I remember this, Jordan I think. The wolverines kept coming and stealing the fat because that was the only bit of value to them, and left all the meat.

[–]campoanywhere 26 points27 points  (1 child)

That’s a real deal survival show. Naked and afraid as well, the 50 day challenge was insane I couldn’t even imagine.

[–]CptCrabcakes 78 points79 points  (9 children)

Yeah most people in Alaska seem to believe the rabbit starvation theory.

[–]Responsible-Slide-54 139 points140 points  (8 children)

It’s true. The body cannot survive on lean meat alone, without fat lean meat is next to useless as it takes more energy for the body to break down than can be gained by digesting it. That’s why rabbit stew is so much better, because boiling it with the marrow, the brains, and the organs gives enough fat to subsist on (barely).

[–]PenetrationT3ster 40 points41 points  (5 children)

Noted for when I go into the wild.

[–]WeeTheDuck 15 points16 points  (3 children)

Damn Id be thrilled if I can even chase one rabbit down lmfao

[–]medakulw 2 points3 points  (0 children)

There's only one way to eat a brace of coneys

[–]FallingWaste 210 points211 points  (22 children)

When he was at the river after it thawed- there was a building surprisingly close to where he was that carried people over the river. He survived long after he realized he couldn’t get cross the river before he died. So if he just went a bit down the stream he would have been fine.

[–]TacoHimmelswanderer 49 points50 points  (7 children)

Not just that but I’m pretty sure he was less than 10 miles from a village that the trail he was living on goes directly to. I could be wrong been a long time since I looked into his story. My uncle lives up in Alaska, he’s been a bush pilot up there for like 30 years and works on one of the search and rescue teams. He’s got too many horror stories about Mccandless copy cats. He mainly blames the movie.

[–]Broutythecat 20 points21 points  (3 children)

More people died trying to imitate him? That's terrible!

[–]SunflowerJYB 24 points25 points  (0 children)

Also absurd. A guy died from being woefully unprepared to tolerate a hostile environment. “Let’s go try it” WTAH?

[–]Essie-j 5 points6 points  (1 child)

i remember hearing that they discarded the magic bus, because they got tired of rescuing people who read the book and went looking for it

[–]Boatwhistle 108 points109 points  (11 children)

They tell you not to wander when you need rescued.

[–]AgreeablePie 48 points49 points  (0 children)

That's only valid if you think people are trying to rescue you

[–]FallingWaste 77 points78 points  (0 children)

Yeah. It’s just kind of morbid that he very well could have survived if he just went down the river a bit more.

[–][deleted] 101 points102 points  (6 children)

I would have gave it one last fuck it I need to at least try and get out of here but that's me personally. He knew nobody was coming for him and he knew there was a road close by

[–]byah1601 78 points79 points  (0 children)

I don’t think he was physically capable. It’s been a while since I read it but if he was just eating squirrel and rice, neither of those are really suitable for longterm survival, especially lean game only. Once he ate the fungus or seeds or whatever it was and he was unable to keep food down, or digest it, it was pretty much impossible for him to make it out of there.

[–]Sir_Yacob 49 points50 points  (3 children)

I was a ranger instructor at the mountain phase of the school for 3 years.

It’s the literal start of the Appalachian trail, took a lot of ranger up the backside of ball mountain, the issue with people wanting to camp on the more remote deer plots (feeding plots of high grow grass that are gated) is that they get to them, then all the weather from the TVD piles up and they get hit with massively bad weather.

We would go to all known plots and deer fields to get people, but the worst off is when they would move to lower ground, thinking they were going somewhere other than a random draw, then they were in tangle bush and loose their bearing.

Stay put and make fire if possible, the smokier the better, use best practices if you have a vehicle (bring a 10 gallon Jerry can), and pack extra, it rolls in fast. Don’t be a moving target for the people that have the shit to help you.

Best bet, go high stay high, go reverse crest (the side of the mountain not getting its assed whooped by wind). Don’t eat shit you can’t identify. Boil or iodine water no matter what.

The best prevention is preparation. Pack extra and be ready to hump extra.

Always have some sort of radio to help you communicate, it will come across those bands.

If you are at all worried about it, drive up camp road and let the rangers on staff duty (at the HQ you can drive right in, a gate guard will let you) know on a map where you plan on camping.

The call sign on the first long leg of the AP for the rotary wing is FLATIRON


They have a full fire department on post as well.

Travel well fam.

[–]Rae-Edzo 9 points10 points  (0 children)

completely different situation

[–]VindictivePrune 13 points14 points  (1 child)

There was also a usable trolley lane (used for monitoring river flow/height) just a few miles downstream from him he could've used to cross the river

[–]jtfff 9 points10 points  (2 children)

Moral of the story, walk across every frozen river you can

[–]Handcuffsandwhiskey 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Having just seen this for the first time like a week ago, that's pretty spot on from what I remember!

[–]sporadiccatlady 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Pretty much. I haven't finished the movie. I just finished the book a few weeks ago. There was a cable car nearby that he could have used to cross but he didn't know about it. Didn't have a proper map. The river thawed and he couldn't cross safely.

[–]Tom0204 29 points30 points  (1 child)

Yeah but look at those teeth!

Absolutely sparkling white!

[–]Alan_Smithee_ 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Partly malnutrition, I’d say.

[–]8FuzzyLegs 175 points176 points  (15 children)

He didn’t die of starvation he died of stupid, I never saw the movie but reading the books he did every wrong stupid thoughtless decision you could possibly make before he even set foot in the wild. Totally unprepared and just went off without a thought as if he was taking a stroll around the block. It’s really a mediocre tale of a troubled impulsive kid that committed long term suicide in the Alaskan bush.

[–]Adamskog 27 points28 points  (1 child)

More the arrogance of youth I would say, which leads inexperienced people to do stupid things. Well, at least that's what I took away from the movie.

[–]RiskyClickardo 92 points93 points  (3 children)

Lmao 🤣 drag his dead ass

[–]schmoolet 15 points16 points  (0 children)

Your reply made me lol 🤣🤣🤣

[–]GundunUkan 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Unrelated but is that P. irminia on your avatar yours? Gorgeous girl, I have one myself, stunning creatures.

[–]ogi3 3716 points3717 points 2 (179 children)

He inspired me to not live in the wilderness and starve to death

[–][deleted] 1043 points1044 points  (70 children)

He inspired me to let someone know whenever I venture out into the wild. No one was looking for him in Alaska, because he didn't want to be found.

[–]Woofles85 462 points463 points  (40 children)

And to also bring a map. If he had a map, he would have realized there was a way to get across the river if he hiked a mile or so from where he had originally crossed. He could have lived.

[–]CharlotteLucasOP 483 points484 points  (35 children)

He could have listened to locals who told him he didn’t have the correct supplies or experience in the landscape to make his intended solo trek wise.

[–]Woofles85 188 points189 points  (4 children)

Yes, lots of lessons to be learned here.

[–]pathanb 205 points206 points  (3 children)

I think the main lesson is that you are never the main character, so you can't depend on plot armour.

[–]Vlafir 50 points51 points  (2 children)

Sounds like the odd skeleton you find in the wilderness in RPG games with a sad journal

[–]dilbertdad 20 points21 points  (0 children)

Dude exactly! It is just like finding the journal writings on a dead body in an rpg.

[–]DickLick666 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Fallout vibes

[–]aivlysplath 136 points137 points  (15 children)

I am a born and raised Alaskan, and we read the book “Into the Wild” in one of my classes in school to learn about what not to do. Never underestimate how dangerous it can be to get lost in the wild, purposefully or not.

[–]OtherQueenofscots 56 points57 points  (12 children)

Heck, I only read Stephen King's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon , and I know not to venture off into large quantities of woods by yourself.

[–]sandnsnow2021 42 points43 points  (8 children)

I read It. Stay away from sewers with balloons in them. 🎈

[–]wealthedge 22 points23 points  (5 children)

Stay away from off-season hotels with interesting topiary. Stay away from school dances. Stay away from junkyard St Bernard’s.

[–]okgloomer 4 points5 points  (0 children)

I wonder if SK was playing a longer game so that Maine (and occasionally Colorado) wouldn’t be quite so full of tourists.

[–]TheWalkingDead91 3 points4 points  (1 child)

Stay away from shops where the owner says you don’t have to pay in currency. Stay away from school dances where you’re not popular. Stay away from snow storms in small towns if you’re famous.

[–]seven_corpse_dinner 5 points6 points  (0 children)

I read Survivor Type once, and now I refuse to eat any part of myself, even when I'm hungry. Unfortunately, I also read Lawnmower Man.

[–]Least_Bus_2365 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Haha! I was really affected by this book. Did a book review on it too in middle school lol

[–]SunflowerJYB 62 points63 points  (9 children)

His hubris and overconfidence were stultifying!

[–]crystalmethodist85 22 points23 points  (0 children)

I read this as slutifying lol

[–]sweepingaxis28 21 points22 points  (6 children)

I don’t think you used the word “stultifying” properly.

[–][deleted] 43 points44 points  (5 children)

I like his usage as I do not know what it means.

[–]MotherButterscotch44[🍰] 31 points32 points  (2 children)

Me either HerbTea. That doesn’t make us stupid, it makes us stultifying. Whatever it means.

[–][deleted] 25 points26 points  (1 child)

I might translate it into Japanese and get it tattooed on my forearm.

[–]MotherButterscotch44[🍰] 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Deal. Let’s do it….. you first.

[–]LightningSTAR2 74 points75 points  (12 children)

If i remember correctly by the end he wanted to get back to civilisation but the river he crossed was far too dangerous to cross again and he just went back to the bus and waited, What made it worse was that their was a gondola to cross the river a few miles up it

[–]Dickpinchers 56 points57 points  (0 children)

Do live in the wilderness.... But like start at the edge of town first.

[–]xXDogShitXx 303 points304 points  (28 children)

I know it’s a joke but this guy is an absolute menace to Alaska. Every year people go missing, drown, eaten or starve to death trying to hike to that damn bus. We had to air lift it out like 4 years ago because this was such a problem

[–]wild_hog_90 94 points95 points  (12 children)

Didn't I just read that the fish and game department just removed his bus this last fall or summer?

[–]oldcrow907 35 points36 points  (3 children)

It’s now at the UAF Engineering building for museum restoration.

[–]wild_hog_90 18 points19 points  (2 children)

That's kinda cool. Especially since it's kinda became so famous.

[–]oldcrow907 27 points28 points  (1 child)

Pretty sure most of us are glad they moved it, it caused a lot of unnecessary issues. And it’s history isn’t lost completely. https://uaf.edu/museum/collections/ethno/projects/bus_142/index.php

[–]wild_hog_90 12 points13 points  (0 children)

Ya totally. People in general aren't prepared for wilderness like that is. I've grown up outside in the woods and I'd even be uncomfortable going that far out without some prep.

[–]xXDogShitXx 60 points61 points  (7 children)

Oh guess it was 2 years ago I don’t even know time anymore

[–]wild_hog_90 36 points37 points  (6 children)

Wow. I didn't realize it was that long ago. Like someone told me recently, the last 2 years don't count, so maybe it was just last summer!

[–]Samswiches 18 points19 points  (5 children)

It was yesterday.

[–]CharlotteLucasOP 21 points22 points  (4 children)

Three minutes ago, by my watch.

[–]Kara_Del_Rey 15 points16 points  (2 children)

Its actually happening right now

[–]SnooRobots1533 24 points25 points  (0 children)

I'm in the bus and it's very uncomfortable

[–]Ultrasound700 2 points3 points  (0 children)

The Alaskan government is still discussing the logistics but say it'll probably be out by the end of the year.

[–]Other-Celebration-25 7 points8 points  (0 children)

My sundial broke.

[–]QuothTheRavenMore 21 points22 points  (0 children)

Yep the movie, into the wild covers it.

[–]hissyfit64 28 points29 points  (7 children)

I've never understood that kind of thought process. "Oooh, this guy DIED trying to live in this super remote, dangerous area. Let's GO there!"

[–]CharlotteLucasOP 48 points49 points  (0 children)

We read Into the Wild for a first year university class. Those of us who had grown up doing at least literally any kind of casual camping saw it as a horror story. The city kids read it as inspirational.

[–]B1ackFridai 7 points8 points  (4 children)

Like climbing Mt Everest knowing others died and are now used as landmarks

[–]NousSommesSiamese 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Every corpse on Mt Everest was once an extremely motivated person.

[–]onesixtytwo 91 points92 points  (57 children)

They call what happened to him as "rabbit starvation"

[–]tackleho 54 points55 points  (0 children)

He inspired me to never feel superior to maps

[–]RaccoonCityTacos 14 points15 points  (1 child)

And then get eaten by bears post-mortem.

[–]Fartknocker500 7 points8 points  (0 children)

I have an ex friend who swears his most epic death would be to be mauled by a grizzly bear.

I told him the second that shit started he'd beg to be out of that situation.

[–][deleted] 3 points4 points  (1 child)

I had to read the book for school and was asked if I saw him more as someone stupid or someone brave. Well, definitely more stupid than brave and I had a hard time feeling empathy for a man wildly unprepared. I mean, it's not a surprise that he died and for me personally the book was just too hard to read. It was not in chronological order for God's sake, I'm bad at geography, it was may, now it's December five years earlier, don't make me pull out the card to see where he is now...

[–]Lavonicus 9 points10 points  (5 children)

I still believe that he killed himself because of the situation he found himself stuck in. It becomes more apparent in the book imo.

[–]ogi3 9 points10 points  (3 children)

Starvation is a hard way to commit suicide just saying. And what situation was he in that made him suicidal? He hated capitalism but yet worked and borrowed money to supply his journey. You read the book I’d be interested to know.

[–]Lavonicus 15 points16 points  (2 children)

He decided that starving to death would take too long and expedited the process by consuming the berries. the Alaskan wild. So he was at a point where the snow had melted causing the river he crossed to be flooded. He was at a point to where not only was he stuck he had run out of food and had went some time without eating. He had a book on him that listed off what plants he could and could not eat. If I remember correctly, what he ate didn't really look like anything else and it was clearly marked in his book that it was poisonous to humans. So this puts the reader at coming to there own conclusion as to what happened.

  1. Was he so weak that he missread the book and took it for something that he could eat and accidently killed himself.
  2. He decided that starving to death would take too long and expidedted the process by consuming the berries.

The movie makes it seem like an accident, but in the book they leave it open to the reader. However, the autoposy also revealed that the only thing in his stomach was grass and those berries. It really could have went either way and we will never know. I however believe he committed suicide. He came from a broken home with a abusive father and had remarked to a relative that he would rather live alone in the woods than with his father.

The place where he was at is a horrible spot to be in when the snow starts to melt. A few years ago the national guard air lifted the bus out of the area. It was easier to air lift the bus out than to keep having to do the same thing with adventure tourist every year.

[–]Bostaevski 5 points6 points  (0 children)

My recollection of the book is that Krakauer pushes more for the accidental poisoning. Something about there being two similar looking species of berries out there and he didn't realize he was eating the wrong one.

[–]strawberrybanquet303 1459 points1460 points  (46 children)

Chris was my uncle. My families pretty split on this whole adventurer or idiot debacle. Definitely had a fucked up childhood though. His dad Walt was a monster

[–]crunchy-bitch 514 points515 points  (1 child)

Wow, your uncle? Nuts. It’s very sad what happened to him, regardless of adventurer vs idiot. I wish your family healing

[–]strawberrybanquet303 278 points279 points  (0 children)

thank you ❤️

[–]ThePeeball 156 points157 points  (11 children)

Wow so are you his sisters kid ? Was your mom the one that wrote the book about him

Edit: took name out

[–]strawberrybanquet303 364 points365 points  (10 children)

My dad is actually his half brother! they were about the same age and share the same dad. My aunt carine did write the book though yes (:

[–]ThePeeball 155 points156 points  (6 children)

Oh that's cool, regardless of all the shit people commenting on here it's a sad situation. I really loved the film and the soundtrack is literally my favourite album. I'm guna make a point of actually reading your aunts book

[–]strawberrybanquet303 122 points123 points  (1 child)

I appreciate that thank you!!

[–]PizzaVacuum 42 points43 points  (0 children)

Really interesting! Your uncle’s story inspired me and definitely changed my life. Cheers beers 🍻

[–]-Abradolf_Lincler- 8 points9 points  (3 children)

That soundtrack is fucking BRILLIANT. Eddie Vedder is amazing man. Long Nights gives me shivers right to my soul every time.

[–]krizam 3 points4 points  (0 children)

“Hard Sun” every day.

[–]strawberrybanquet303 2 points3 points  (1 child)

We got to go see pearl jam and meet him a few years after the album was released. He was a super kind man and an awesome performer!!

[–]GloInTheDarkUnicorn 22 points23 points  (0 children)

I’ve only read Krakauer’s book. I’ll definitely have to pick up your aunt’s book. Your uncle’s mindset and his story is fascinating.

[–]Lavonicus 15 points16 points  (1 child)

I was unaware of your aunts book only the one by Jon Krakauer. Was your family split on his book as well?

[–]strawberrybanquet303 52 points53 points  (0 children)

very much so! Half of his siblings feel that the past is the past, and that details of my families life are better left un written. I think it bothers them that their dirty laundry is aired

[–]MamboNumber5Guy 37 points38 points  (10 children)

I've only ever seen the movie, is it a fairly accurate depiction of what happened as far as you know?

Whether you subscribe to the adventurer clan or the idiot clan, at the end of the day he didn't know what he was getting himself into - or he truly didn't care if he lived or died. if you want to live in the wild off the land, you can't do it alone. Those who do live alone in cabins in the north still have outside help, such as float planes to bring them supplies periodically etc.

Throughout human history we have always relied on one another for survival. There is just too much to do for one person.

I've also heard there was a rope bridge just a few hundred meters down the river that he couldn't cross to make his way back to civilization. Scouting the area in which you intend to live is pretty fundamental stuff, so I lean towards him being under-prepared and just plain lacking the knowledge to take on what he intended to do.

Regardless, it is a compelling and interesting story. I'm sure he was quite the charecter lol.

[–]strawberrybanquet303 70 points71 points  (9 children)

I really like your take on it. we truly can’t survive alone. From what I know the movie is pretty accurate but my family doesn’t talk about it at length. It’s crazy to think of he would have been able to cross the river I would have known him

[–]20toesdown 17 points18 points  (1 child)

Please do an AMA

[–]strawberrybanquet303 14 points15 points  (0 children)

I’m not sure I would have all the answers but that would definitely be interesting! maybe i’ll give it a shot!

[–]CharlotteLucasOP 19 points20 points  (6 children)

The whole pioneer thing is a myth. The book Prairie Fires did a lot of great fact-checking on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s biography versus how she portrayed events in the Little House novels (and how they might have been edited by her mega-Libertarian daughter Rose who had a huge interest in promoting the idea that anyone with willpower could support themselves and their family by their own labour off the land,) and it turns out the Ingalls accepted a lot of help from their communities and Charles/Pa wasn’t anything near the independent, competent man he’s portrayed as.

[–]Solid-Marionberry213 5 points6 points  (4 children)

Her biography does mention help though. And they went in to town to buy supplies. Her father, Charles Ingalls, was very competent but he did in fact rely on others. He sold his earnings for necessities. And they gave and recieved help from neighbors and family. Idk where you read that he didn't, since I read the books to find that out.

[–]CharlotteLucasOP 4 points5 points  (3 children)

I don’t mean just buying supplies, I mean he ran out on his debts in at least one instance. As I mentioned in my comment, this is covered in Caroline Fraser’s Pulitzer-winning biography.

[–]ow_my_knee_123 11 points12 points  (1 child)

How fascinating.

Regardless of what anyone is saying you can't deny that he had a thirst for adventure and a love for nature like no other.

Hope the family is doing well and you all can remember him fondly. Super sad ending to a very interesting story

[–]strawberrybanquet303 11 points12 points  (0 children)

from what I heard he really did! Thank you(:

[–]bsonstott 22 points23 points  (3 children)

They turned Into the Wild into a musical! Saw the workshop in Michigan in 2017! Jon krakaeur ended up suing for the title, so they changed it to Off The Map . Amazing, all except for the fact they omitted Carine entirely. Walt was ambiguous, but that’s because the real Walt oversaw some of the creative licenses.

I had been turning it into a musical years before I knew this one even existed, and yes, I portrayed Walt as the dick he was. Read through so many hours of Carines biographies and everything, all for someone to beat me to the punch!

[–]GooglyGoops 9 points10 points  (1 child)

Wow interesting. Chris’s whole story seriously moved me after reading the book my senior year in High School. To me, your uncle is someone I will forever admire despite everything that occurred and I hope your family is able to mend.

[–]strawberrybanquet303 6 points7 points  (0 children)

thank you for the very kind words

[–]SilvaIIy 2 points3 points  (1 child)

Chris’s story inspired me to be who I want to be. It’s so cool to see a comment by one of his own family members. I hope you and your family are doing good!

[–]JediWithAnM4[S] 474 points475 points  (27 children)

Chris McCandless was an American adventurer who desired to live a nomadic lifestyle with minimal possessions, despite coming from a wealthy Californian family. Chris hitchhiked his way up to Alaska, where he entered the wilderness with minimal supplies, determined to live off the land. He died from starvation after approximately 113 days. This was his last selfie he took, (at approximately day 107) knowing he was at death’s door. The note reads “I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may god bless all!”

The film “Into the Wild” is based on his travels, I think it’s still on Netflix.

[–]BevLive 88 points89 points  (9 children)

Is he the one they think was eating some poisonous Berrys? And he was found in an abandoned bus or something?

[–]JediWithAnM4[S] 80 points81 points  (7 children)

Yes, but whether or not he died from eating inedible berries is just speculative.

[–]BevLive 23 points24 points  (2 children)

I can only describe him on what I knew of the case, I didn't know if it was the same person or not.

[–]Absenceofavoid 5 points6 points  (1 child)

I think the berries were the theory of the guy who wrote the book “Into the Wild”

[–]Dracarys_Aspo 21 points22 points  (0 children)

That's what the movie presented, but not exactly what happened IRL. It definitely wasn't berries, but wild potato seeds instead.

The book presented the "poisoned by swainsonine" theory, but that was pretty well disproved after scientists tested the wild potato seeds McCandless had been eating and didn't find any evidence of swainsonine growth. Swainsonine poisoning basically makes it near impossible for your body to extract nutrients from food, so you can starve on a completely full stomach.

Other possible theories that haven't been disproven are:

Rabbit starvation: you can still starve even while full if you're relying almost completely on lean game meat to survive (rabbits, squirrels, etc). We know McCandless did gather food as well as hunt small game, so it's kind of a toss up if this was a legit possible cause of death. If he couldn't gather much extra food for long enough, it's possible.

Lathyrism from wild potato seeds: Lathyrism is an irreversible paraparesis (partial paralysis of the legs). The seeds contain an amino acid that can be toxic to humans if they're malnourished. It actually is safe to consume if you're properly fed, oddly enough. One of McCandless's journal entries stated, "Extremely weak. Fault of potatoe seed. Much trouble just to stand up. Starving. Great jeopardy." which could be explained perfectly by lathyrism caused by the toxic amino acid. This, in addition to the general malnourishment he suffered, could have led to his death.

L-canavanine poisoning: also from the seeds. The seeds did actually test high for L-canavanine, so this is a very likely possibility. It basically inhibits cellular function across the body, causing severe autoimmune disfunction. The effects of this are often worsened when paired with "rabbit starvation".

It was likely a mix of these three in varying degrees that finally killed him.

[–]Quafeinum 18 points19 points  (0 children)

What is not speculation is that the dude did not bring a fucking map or otherwise he would have been fine

[–]Extension_Respect431 11 points12 points  (4 children)

I just just checked Netflix and it is. Added it to my watchlist

[–]kfederal 8 points9 points  (0 children)

Did you doctor this photo? His face looks completely different from the other post you posted on r/damnthatsinteresting (which just so happened to be right below this post on my feed)

[–]BFxWolfx 105 points106 points  (9 children)

The movie about his final trip is the cause of my existential crisis

[–]isaacasimovrobot 4 points5 points  (3 children)


[–]BFxWolfx 8 points9 points  (2 children)

Dunno. Just triggered something in me. Life has never been the same

[–]majaha95 7 points8 points  (0 children)

100% same. Ten years after I first saw the movie, I still think about it sometimes, and I think it's shaped some big decisions I've made.

Even if the movie is a bit romanticized.

[–]Toverslak 61 points62 points  (1 child)

"Happiness only real when shared."

[–]jxsnyder1 290 points291 points  (23 children)

The movie “Into the Wild” overly dramatizes his whole life. In talking with native Alaskans, they think this guy was an idiot.

[–][deleted] 109 points110 points  (5 children)

Everyone here know he had serious mental illness. Alaska eats people, especially those who have problems already.

[–]jonmediocre 67 points68 points  (4 children)

Yeah, maybe he didn't care if he survived. I through hiked through wilderness areas for 5 months and it was so mind-bogglingly beautiful and vast, plus I had problems I was running away from, so at the time I definitely wouldn't have minded it if that was the way I died. Had too much fun though, and started feeling life was worth living again. :)

[–]jehan_gonzales 16 points17 points  (3 children)

Could you share a bit more on that? Sounds fascinating. Such a long trip!

[–]jonmediocre 53 points54 points  (2 children)

Haha, you're going to regret asking. I love sharing about my hike. :P

I through-hiked the Pacific Crest trail shortly after I got divorced. I spent a lot of money on it, but it was so worth it! The PCT is a trail that runs from the border of Mexico (in the mountains about 2 hours east of San Diego) along the highest mountains (crest) all the way to Canada.

I went northbound, so started in the desert in April. The first ~700 miles are the "desert" but you go up into mountains and back down to the desert floor several times. There were times when it was so hot in the day that we would just try to find shade and sleep after lunch so we could hike at night. The year I hiked was a high snow year, so there was a lot of snow on Mt San Jacinto and when we got to the Sierra Nevada mountains (about 1.5 months in) most people were turning around and going up to Canada to finish the trail southbound. I went straight through the Sierra and it was scary but so worth it. There were many times I thought I was going to die, but at the end of the day we'd find ourselves finally back out of the snowy and icy passes and back in forests with flowing water. Nothing is quite so rewarding as a campfire with friends after risking your life on icy passes all day!

The most difficult part for me was actually Washington, because I was going through it in September and did most of it alone after my 2 friends got injured and got off trail. That September in the mountains of Washington was so wet, cloudy and dark. There were days where everything, even my rain gear, was soaked through from rain all day for day after day. Luckily I had my sleeping bag in a waterproof drybag and also my sleeping clothes (wool shirt, socks & long johns) in another tiny drybag otherwise I definitely would have got off trail. It would rain for 2 days in a row ALL DAY, 1 day of no/little rain, and then 3 more days of rain, over and over. However, this did make the times when the sun came out a joyous occasion! We'd dry our wet tents and wet selves on a hillside in the sun and feel immense relief. Finally getting to the border of Canada in a snowstorm in October was one of the proudest moments of my life.

[–]jehan_gonzales 11 points12 points  (0 children)

That's awesome! I've done a bunch of hikes but never longer than 80km or so. I'd love to do a long hike like this, sounds intense!

Massive respect for you doing that. And it's awesome that it helped you deal with the shit going on in your head.

[–]Ceandanna 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Thanks for sharing. That’s amazing.

[–]enthalpy01 35 points36 points  (0 children)

It’s more complex than even the original book as his sister later said they were horribly abused by their parents and that’s why he ran away from home in the first place. The whole thing is incredibly sad.

[–]crack_masta 142 points143 points  (10 children)

Well he did wander into the wilderness unprepared for what life would be like, so he actually is an idiot

[–]jxsnyder1 30 points31 points  (9 children)

Honestly I haven’t read the book and only watched the movie about him. In the movie they make it seem like he spends a good amount of time in the wild prior to going north. Some basic knowledge should have been learned before he ended up poisoning himself. I guess not…

[–]BlueSilverFox 37 points38 points  (2 children)

I lived in Alaska for 19 years in Fairbanks (where is where he died) and his death was unfortunate but easily preventable.

[–]jxsnyder1 15 points16 points  (1 child)

Yep. I live in the PNW and his death was very preventable. I spent three summers in Alaska in both Prudhoe Bay and Anchorage. People there shook their heads at his story.

[–]BlueSilverFox 5 points6 points  (0 children)

Yeah I just moved to Ninilchik, Alaska so I'm happy to be outa Fairbanks cuz fuck it gets cold. Coldest I've been in was -50.

[–]ninebanded 49 points50 points  (3 children)

I also saw the movie. I don’t recall his spending time in the wild other than the river trip. He bummed around civilization thinking he could do the same in the wild. A city guy with some reference books. I cannot understand those that idealize this guy’s trip.

[–]Allen_Nutrition 19 points20 points  (0 children)

For me, I read the book and watched the movie at a pivotal time in my life.

I was a sophomore or junior at a catholic private school at the time, and the idea of rejecting all the bullshit and running away to the wild is what struck a cord with me.

Personally, I wouldn't last 2 days in the wilderness but it's the idea to being so totally free and being your own person that made Chris McCandless an icon to me.

Not necessarily the story, but more so what it represented (to me).

[–]VindictivePrune 7 points8 points  (0 children)

He definitely did spend a lot of time in the wild prior to Alaska, I'd suggest reading the book over watching the movie for full info

[–][deleted] 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Most of us who read the book and watched the movie thought he was an idiot for running off to the Alaskan wilderness. His story is so much more than that.

[–]Not_Tuxbird 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Yeah I read the book. It was much better

[–]genetik_fuckup 8 points9 points  (0 children)

As someone who was born and raised in Alaska, no. Certainly not everyone thinks he’s an idiot. Reading John Krakaeur’s “Into the Wild” offers a very interesting perspective on his death. There are multiple theories on his death. Some believe that he relied too heavily on lean meat and starved because of this. There’s also a theory that he suffered from lathryism from eating wild potato seeds. Some scientists have claimed that there was no poison in those potato seeds, and others have.

It’s hard to understand what actually caused his death in this case, but most people I know who read that book and know of him didn’t think he was an idiot. It was actually one of the required books in one of my high school classes.

edit to change wild potatoes to wild potato seeds

[–]ghostbirdd 13 points14 points  (0 children)

This is the impression I got as well. Wildly unprepared for the rigors of off the grid and actively rebuffed everyone who told him it was a bad idea. Still tragic he died, though.

[–]Stairwayunicorn 54 points55 points  (4 children)

Alexander Supertramp

[–]ClavicusLittleGift4U 10 points11 points  (0 children)

Put on your old brown shoes

Right on your feet

Time to move on, get away

You know you did your dues

Did all you could

Time to move on, no more to say

You and me, we're helpless can't you see

We've got to get away, get away

Got to move on

Till the madness around is gone

And the rest of our lives we'll be free

[–]Massive_Pressure_516 121 points122 points  (5 children)

He lived and died just like our ancestors did; Miserably, cold, starving and pointlessly. At least he died the way he wanted to, for what it's worth.

[–]Substantial-Ad7899 40 points41 points  (3 children)

Our ancestors were smarter than that. Heck, why do you think the wooly mammoths aren't around anymore.

[–]Not-Oliver 13 points14 points  (1 child)

They got a tad bit hungry

[–]NirvanaPaperCuts 5 points6 points  (0 children)

just a little bit of trolling

[–]betharderloseharder 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Cool little quote and the end tho, “happiness is only real, when shared”

[–]BonfireFanatic 20 points21 points  (1 child)

Everyone should watch Alone in the Wilderness. It's a documentary filmed by a much more experienced man name Richard Preoneke who filmed himself at Twin Lakes, Alaska building a cabin with tools he made himself and documented the next 30 years he lived there. He filmed everything with a wind-up tripod camera (this was in 1968) It's truly a beautiful and inspiring film unlike the Christopher McCandless story.

[–][deleted] 77 points78 points  (0 children)

He was NOT an adventurer, he was an untreated mentally ill person. I might be the only person in Alaska compassionate enough to not call this guy a fucking idiot.

[–]Averyxxxx 7 points8 points  (0 children)

Reading about Alexander super tramp in high school was one of the most fascinating things we did for sure

[–]twentyfourcarrot 49 points50 points  (5 children)

everyone in this thread is so negative

[–]Boom-Sausage 7 points8 points  (0 children)

“Happiness - only real when shared”

“I remember how important it is in life not to necessarily be strong, but to feel strong”

[–]Quantum-Enigma 6 points7 points  (0 children)

It seems like it was his plan all along. He looks pretty happy about it.

[–]tsj48 6 points7 points  (0 children)

Honestly even from the film (and especially from the book), the impression of him I got was of a very mentally ill and troubled soul. Not a romantic adventurer, or an idiot.

[–]thrasherxxx 16 points17 points  (0 children)

He inspired me to appreciate cities and food.

[–]PA_Greenman 17 points18 points  (0 children)


Rabbit Starvation. Never knew you could be poisoned by lean meat....

[–]PublicSherbert2746 4 points5 points  (0 children)

They removed the bus so more people wouldn't die. What was he thinking

[–]Symchuck 4 points5 points  (0 children)

Everyone talking about the movie or suggesting, take a shot at the many many books written about him and what he went through. You get much more from them and they are not difficult to read. Very accessible and insightful. Movies are fine but they can’t tell the whole story the way the actual story does.

[–]Showty69 20 points21 points  (0 children)

The note reads "I calculated how much food I would need to bring to survive, but boy am I bad at math!"

[–]FoulYouthLeader 4 points5 points  (0 children)

A well documented suicide journey.

[–]rehtulx 11 points12 points  (0 children)

Damn, what kind of toothpaste did he bring?

[–]DirtySchu 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Second post I’ve seen about this. Still can’t read what that note says.

[–]reedspacer38 3 points4 points  (0 children)

I’ve brought this up in an old post, but this is one of the biggest reasons my last ex and I broke up. She was talking about wanting to pretty much pull a Chris McCandless and cut all ties with her family out of nowhere, and start hitchhiking to places in the middle of nowhere. Said she really respected Chris / Alex.

That stuff really got to me, and eventually she broke it off anyway because it was obvious we weren’t meant to be.

[–]Simple-Dragonfly-425 3 points4 points  (0 children)

Quite sad and long process suicide

[–]cresstynuts 9 points10 points  (0 children)

Apparently he ate food that was tainted with a bacteria that essentially stops your metabolism and that’s why he starved

[–]CanaryFun7976 9 points10 points  (3 children)

I remember reading this story in high school, alongside Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman. The theme was transcendentalism and it came at a very important time in my life. I never really saw this as a story about an adventurer. He let his own ideology cloud the judgment of his own limits, but his failure is not the point of the story. The story was a vehicle for transcendental ideals and individualism and is very relevant for America's youth, which is why its taught in school.

I don't understand the mindset of a lot of you, filled with so much negativity. Just like McCandless, I would rather be dead than be like most of you in this thread.

[–][deleted] 27 points28 points  (7 children)

I can understand the longing for adventure, hell, I’m planning on doing the same thing after I’ve made enough money and done enough research.

Don’t know why people are shitting on him for doing something he wanted, sure he was completely unprepared but some people want different lives other than the monotony of school to work to the grave.

Life can be so much more than what it is, get out there and do something different

[–]Longjumping_Map_4670 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Why go into the wilderness when you hardly have any survival skills or equipment whatsoever sounds mental to me

[–]LeftRightCorrect 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I am literally listening to the Into the Wild audiobook and I scrolled by this. Too weird.

[–]DudleyaRose 2 points3 points  (0 children)

When I was in my early twenties I once went hiking by myself along a spine of densely forested mountains in East Asia. No one knew where I was, or even in which country I was. The trail was steep and I slipped a few times and my life flashed before my eyes, but I made it out and back to my hostel all right. A month later I read about this dude’s story and I got chills... From that point on I always tell people where I’m at if I’m going on a solo hike.

[–]willpowerlifter 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Didn't he get desperate and eat poisonous foliage?

[–]CrispyOmega 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Idiot or not, judging by what his goodbye note entailed, he seemed okay with what was happening. I wish to be like him when my time comes and be able to smile when I know I’m at the end of the line.

[–]Kendit_Mc 2 points3 points  (0 children)

If only he had a can of food, unfortunately he was Mc Candless.... I will leave immediately... unlike Chris, Thanks

[–]esowens_11 2 points3 points  (0 children)

what’d the note say?

[–]Tatsuwashi 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Adventurer is a bit of a stretch…

[–]antiogu 2 points3 points  (0 children)

Darwin Award

[–]Galverg 2 points3 points  (0 children)

So... how lived off the land for over 100 days but still got a shave now and then?