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Thread: Into the Wild: What happened to McCandless?

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    Wilderness Traveller Brooks Range's Avatar
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    Default Into the Wild: What happened to McCandless?

    I ran across this article on Christopher McCandless.

    Krakauer has presented five different hypotheses of what killed "Alexander Supertramp." This foraging expert says he starved.

    What do you think, starvation or poisoning?
    Alone in the Fortress of the Bears
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    Good Lord. It'll take me awhile to digest all that.

  3. #3

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    How about stupidity?
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    Senior Member natertot's Avatar
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    From my understanding, they believe that he was starving and, in a desperate attempt, did eat something poisonous. Final cause of the death..... well.... this time I think starvation and poison worked together as a team.
    ”There's nothing glorious in dying. Anyone can do it.” ~Johnny Rotten

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    I'm thinking form all the articles.....that it was a mix of blind confidence and bad luck......
    Add in despair.......and making mistakes.

    Starvation.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Stupidity killed that goofball.

    He did not starve in the middle of winter covered in snowdrifts, he died in the middle of summer!

    Walked in on frozen rivers that trapped him after the thaw. Killed a moose and watched it rot.

    He was simply unprepared in training, skills or equipment for a true wilderness with resources different from his normal habitat.
    Come to the dark side, we have pudding.

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    There's an author I like who refers to it as suicide by Alaska.


    My take? I think he probably spent more calories acquiring food than he got from said food. Because he had no clue what he was doing. There's no great mystery here.

    That being said, Krakauer's theories persist. A few weeks ago one of my coworkers was going on about how "This guy in the movie, and it's based on a true story, he like thought he was eating the non poisonous seeds, but it was the poisonous ones and like...."

    I really had to bite my tongue.

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    Senior Member Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    +1 naive young stupidity.

    I have delved into this over on another site, he hiked in without a plan - he crossed small streams without taking into account the depth of the banks. He shot small game and didn't store food, he had no seeds or grow food plan. The one that floored me - when he wanted to bug out of the "OMG" moment he could not get back across the stream. He had no idea how to cross frigid fast flowing water without a horse. Any fat old guy would. Guess a brilliant college education... doesn't mean life skills.

    It means the dumbing down of the USA youth.
    "Never work against mother nature"--Caesar Milan.

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    Its death by misadventure. It was not one thing. But, a series of mistakes that took his life.

    If he had the choice would he trade his legacy for the life he could have had? Would he go back and avoid this end to avoid leading others to their own death?

    Writers make heroes or villains of who they want and the facts won't change that. I am in no way inspired by this story though.

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    Wilderness Traveller Brooks Range's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl View Post
    ...The one that floored me - when he wanted to bug out of the "OMG" moment he could not get back across the stream. He had no idea how to cross frigid fast flowing water without a horse. Any fat old guy would...
    I'm not sure ANY fat old guy would. I guess it would depend on how fast and deep and cold the water was. What do you think he should have done?
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    I guess making a big mystery......then blaming on the foraging of poisonous plants....make a better drama for the "poor guy"......Then just calling it what it was.
    Dumas killed himself by his inexperience and arrogance.

    I'm sure this story is behind many of the " I want to run away into the Alaskan wilderness with my survival knife" visitors we get....and I sure that is just a fraction of those that profess plans to follow his example.
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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    he starved to death. fate made him a goat if it had went the other way he would have been a hero. Think of all the near misses we all have had.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

  13. #13

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    The article states he starved to death. There is/was no evidence he ate a poisonous plant. It refutes all the so-called evidence put forth that McKandless consumed enough of any poison, if any existed at all. If you read the end of the article, beyond the McKandless stuff, you will see the truth for yourself.

    The article goes into the various poisoning hypotheses, which in this case are not really hypotheses because of the lack of scientific evidence, or the existence of scientific evidence to the contrary. It shows how a series of ideas were linked to come up with a pre-determined conclusion. This article is a good example of how to poke holes in someone else's contrived theory.

    This sums it up nicely:
    With each successive hypothesis, Krakauer has diluted his credibility. Chris starved because e poisoned himself. No, because he couldn’t digest food. No, because he was paralyzed. No, because he was weakened. He ate the wrong plant. No, he ate the wrong part. No, it just got moldy. Actually, it really was a little bit poisonous, and I bet he ate tons of it. It was swainsonine. I mean, ODAP. I mean, L-canavanine. He starved to death because he was starving, and when you’re starving, and you eat something that makes you starve, you starve all the way to death!

    I am sure I will be completely convinced by hypothesis number six.

    Krakauer ends his paper with a warning to foragers: that even if one part of a plant is edible; other parts may be toxic. Thanks buddy, for this public service message setting us all straight. True, this warning has been part of most reputable books ever written on the topic, but in order to take it seriously, we really needed to hear it from a botanical buffoon who is deeply invested in spreading unrealistic fears about our avocation.
    Last edited by LowKey; 12-13-2015 at 12:02 PM.
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    The other part of that long paper is a study on how much you would have to actually eat in a "live off the land" situation.
    Assuming you need 3300 calories for an active day (and that can vary for each individual) if you were Chris:
    A hypothetical day’s food for Chris might consist of half squirrel meat, and a quarter each of berries and wild potato roots.
    In this case he would have needed
    8 [red] squirrels,
    2 ¼ pounds of roots, and
    3 ¼ pounds of berries
    each day.
    (emphasis added)

    This has been my reasoning all along that no one is going to be able to ROTTW without planning for some kind of seed crop, some kind of animal husbandry and /or some kind of food preservation program. Add that to a TEOTWAWKI situation where you have millions of people ravaging the countryside, edible or not, and yeah... good luck.

    This article, at least the second half of it should be posted to all who want to ROTTW.
    Last edited by LowKey; 12-13-2015 at 12:01 PM.
    If we are to have another contest in…our national existence I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's, but between patriotism & intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition & ignorance on the other…
    ~ President Ulysses S. Grant

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    Wilderness Traveller Brooks Range's Avatar
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    It seems clear to me that he starved to death.

    He said he was starving to death.

    If you look at his "journal" and tally up the calories he was eating he was doomed to starve to death eventually.

    In order to survive a similar situation you have to have a good plan to preserve your "windfall" harvests. Had he done a good job preserving that moose he'd be alive today. After they let him out of jail for poaching.

    I don't think he had a death wish. I think he was overly confident, didn't have enough experience and didn't have a good plan.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LowKey View Post
    ................

    This article, at least the second half of it should be posted to all who want to ROTTW.
    Like any one would read and take note........
    The whole idea of ROTTW is the idea you don't have to listen to anyone, and can do what you want.....

    But I guess I question the need to join a forum, and tell complete stranger what you plans are, and how smart you are and how stupid anyone that attempts to interject logic and common sense into the conversation.

    Not surprised the guy starved .......
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Don't they do autopsies in Alaska?

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    Wilderness Traveller Brooks Range's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    Don't they do autopsies in Alaska?
    The State Medical Examiner’s Office conducts autopsies.

    Quoting from the article: Through an autopsy, medical examiners determined that McCandless had starved to death, and all evidence pointed clearly to that conclusion... The medical examiners who performed Chris’s autopsy noted telltale signs of starvation: severe deterioration of his muscles and a lack of subcutaneous fat. This can’t happen suddenly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl View Post
    +1 naive young stupidity.

    I have delved into this over on another site, he hiked in without a plan - he crossed small streams without taking into account the depth of the banks. He shot small game and didn't store food, he had no seeds or grow food plan. The one that floored me - when he wanted to bug out of the "OMG" moment he could not get back across the stream. He had no idea how to cross frigid fast flowing water without a horse. Any fat old guy would. Guess a brilliant college education... doesn't mean life skills.

    It means the dumbing down of the USA youth.

    As per the above , there is a hand tram crossing for a gauging station on the Tek just about a mile or so downstream from where the Stampede Trail crosses the Tek. There were/are also at least FOUR separate emergency cabins with supplies within a 5 mile radius , clearly indicated on a variety of maps.

    ANd yes , most assuredly *stupidity* killed him , along with disrespect and contempt for the specific environment. Alaska , she won't suffer fools gladly. No knowledge of basic meat preservation techniques , lack of knowledge of the terrain and weather , lack of requisite equipment , lack of proper supplies and foodstuffs (FATS KEEP YOU ALIVE) ,lack of knowledge of the most basic flora and fauna within the region............

    Brings to mind a poem by the Poet Laureate of the Far North.............


    This is the law of the Yukon, and ever she makes it plain:
    "Send not your foolish and feeble; send me your strong and your sane --
    Strong for the red rage of battle; sane for I harry them sore;
    Send me men girt for the combat, men who are grit to the core;
    Swift as the panther in triumph, fierce as the bear in defeat,
    Sired of a bulldog parent, steeled in the furnace heat.
    Send me the best of your breeding, lend me your chosen ones;
    Them will I take to my bosom, them will I call my sons;
    Them will I gild with my treasure, them will I glut with my meat;
    But the others -- the misfits, the failures -- I trample under my feet.
    Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied and slain,
    Ye would send me the spawn of your gutters -- Go! take back your spawn again.

    "Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my sway;
    From my ruthless throne I have ruled alone for a million years and a day;
    Hugging my mighty treasure, waiting for man to come,
    Till he swept like a turbid torrent, and after him swept -- the scum.
    The pallid pimp of the dead-line, the enervate of the pen,
    One by one I weeded them out, for all that I sought was -- Men.
    One by one I dismayed them, frighting them sore with my glooms;
    One by one I betrayed them unto my manifold dooms.
    Drowned them like rats in my rivers, starved them like curs on my plains,
    Rotted the flesh that was left them, poisoned the blood in their veins;
    Burst with my winter upon them, searing forever their sight,
    Lashed them with fungus-white faces, whimpering wild in the night;

    "Staggering blind through the storm-whirl, stumbling mad through the snow,
    Frozen stiff in the ice-pack, brittle and bent like a bow;
    Featureless, formless, forsaken, scented by wolves in their flight,
    Left for the wind to make music through ribs that are glittering white;
    Gnawing the black crust of failure, searching the pit of despair,
    Crooking the toe in the trigger, trying to patter a prayer;
    Going outside with an escort, raving with lips all afoam,
    Writing a cheque for a million, driveling feebly of home;
    Lost like a louse in the burning . . . or else in the tented town
    Seeking a drunkard's solace, sinking and sinking down;
    Steeped in the slime at the bottom, dead to a decent world,
    Lost 'mid the human flotsam, far on the frontier hurled;
    In the camp at the bend of the river, with its dozen saloons aglare,
    Its gambling dens ariot, its gramophones all ablare;
    Crimped with the crimes of a city, sin-ridden and bridled with lies,
    In the hush of my mountained vastness, in the flush of my midnight skies.
    Plague-spots, yet tools of my purpose, so natheless I suffer them thrive,
    Crushing my Weak in their clutches, that only my Strong may survive.

    "But the others, the men of my mettle, the men who would 'stablish my fame
    Unto its ultimate issue, winning me honor, not shame;
    Searching my uttermost valleys, fighting each step as they go,
    Shooting the wrath of my rapids, scaling my ramparts of snow;
    Ripping the guts of my mountains, looting the beds of my creeks,
    Them will I take to my bosom, and speak as a mother speaks.
    I am the land that listens, I am the land that broods;
    Steeped in eternal beauty, crystalline waters and woods.
    Long have I waited lonely, shunned as a thing accurst,
    Monstrous, moody, pathetic, the last of the lands and the first;
    Visioning camp-fires at twilight, sad with a longing forlorn,
    Feeling my womb o'er-pregnant with the seed of cities unborn.
    Wild and wide are my borders, stern as death is my sway,
    And I wait for the men who will win me -- and I will not be won in a day;
    And I will not be won by weaklings, subtle, suave and mild,
    But by men with the hearts of vikings, and the simple faith of a child;
    Desperate, strong and resistless, unthrottled by fear or defeat,
    Them will I gild with my treasure, them will I glut with my meat.

    "Lofty I stand from each sister land, patient and wearily wise,
    With the weight of a world of sadness in my quiet, passionless eyes;
    Dreaming alone of a people, dreaming alone of a day,
    When men shall not rape my riches, and curse me and go away;
    Making a bawd of my bounty, fouling the hand that gave --
    Till I rise in my wrath and I sweep on their path and I stamp them into a grave.
    Dreaming of men who will bless me, of women esteeming me good,
    Of children born in my borders of radiant motherhood,
    Of cities leaping to stature, of fame like a flag unfurled,
    As I pour the tide of my riches in the eager lap of the world."

    This is the Law of the Yukon, that only the Strong shall thrive;
    That surely the Weak shall perish, and only the Fit survive.
    Dissolute, damned and despairful, crippled and palsied and slain,
    This is the Will of the Yukon, -- Lo, how she makes it plain!
    Robert William Service

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Very nice.......Thanks for posting.
    I guess the Yukon is close enough....LOL
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