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Daily Dirt: Christopher McCandless Death Mystery Solved?

Chris McCandless

Your daily outdoor news bulletin for September 18, the day the Donner Party realized they were in (deep) trouble in the Sierra Nevadas and sent two men ahead to bring back provisions in 1846:

Christopher McCandless Death Solved?

In one of the most interesting stories we read this week, the New Yorker ran a piece from author Jon Krakauer on the mystery surrounding the death of Christopher McCandless. McCandless, of course, is the center of Krakauer’s book Into the Wild – McCandless is portrayed by Emile Hirsch (what ever happened to that guy?) in the 2007 movie of the same name, the best part of which is probably Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack – which traces his journey from Emory University graduate to his quest to reject materialism and live off the land in the wild, to his eventual demise in the Alaskan backcountry in 1992. The cause of that demise has always been under some scrutiny as the evidence is sparse. In the book, Krakauer blames a mis-identification of the plants McCandless was eating at the time. What was known for certain is that McCandless most likely died of starvation as he was emaciated and had written as much in one of his last journal entries.

In the article in the New Yorker, Krakauer believes he has found the real cause of Christopher McCandless’s starvation, and although there is a lot of science involved, it is worth reading to a) get to the bottom of it, and b) take the time to again think about this young kid, his thought process, and why he did what he did. Each time I hear the name, I am struck by how much of an impact his story continues to have on me. On the one hand, this is a kid who ditched everything to live the life he believed in. This was an admirable, albeit fairly post-college-super-smart-now-don’t-know-what-to-do-next move. On the other hand, this is a kid who found the world he lived in, and the people he lived in it with, so disgusting that he ditched it all to die alone in the woods instead of trying to use his considerable charm and smarts to change it for the better. I’m sure that dying in Alaska was not his plan, but human relationships are what make the world go round, not people giving up to eat roots in Alaska. This is what makes his story so interesting and long-lasting, and what makes people return to it again and again. Also, Krakauer is pretty famous now, so anything he writes is going to get attention, especially in the New Yorker, which is a pretty famous publication.

McCandless and Krakauer are somewhat polarizing figures, but no matter what your thoughts are on either of them, the fact that 20 years later the author is still trying to solve the mystery says something about them both.

Info on the latest McCandless project can be found here.

WNC Run/Walk for Autism Raises $61k

The Autism Society of North Carolina made quite the haul over the weekend. Saturday’s WNC Run/Walk for Autism raised over $61,000 for the organization. The 8th annual run/walk featured 600 participants in both competitive and non-competitive races and all proceeds are used to improve the lives of individuals with autism, support families, and educate the community. Way to go guys!

New Belgium Raises $11k

Speaking of fundraising in Western North Carolina, New Belgium’s Clips Beer & Film Tour raised nearly $11,ooo for Asheville on Bikes during their event on September 6th.

The Clips Beer & Film Tour will be in Charleston, SC on September 26th and Charlotte, NC on October 4th. Click here for more details.



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