Alexander Supertramp – Driven By Wanderlust, And Into The Wild

We all are a byproduct of our desires…of what we dream!
Dreams are a byproduct of our imagination…
and imagination is vivid…
It varies from person to person…
It can make human a butterfly,
and all that butterflies do—
Is wander!

Alexander Supertramp was a young American hiker and traveler who, at the age of 24, relinquished city life to live solitary in the Alaskan woods, away from civilization and material comforts. Four months later, in August 1992, he was found starved to death inside an abandoned bus he had been using as a makeshift shelter.


He was one of those driven by wanderlust: a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world. There are many lost souls who are wandering…for inner peace, for a perspective. This perspective, this search is not for a job, or a career but for something beyond. And beyond is vague.

It has been twenty-three years; since McCandless’ decomposed body was discovered inside a rusting bus outside the northern boundary of Denali National Park, Alaska, USA in 1992. The bus was a makeshift shelter for trappers and other backcountry visitors. A note was recovered taped to the door of the bus on a page torn from a novel by Nikolai Gogol:

Attention possible visitors.


I need your help. I am injured, near death, and too weak to hike out of here. I am all alone, this is no joke. In the name of god, please remain to save me. I am out collecting berries close by and shall return this evening. Thank you,

Chris McCandless



Into The Wild

The unusual life of Alexander Supertramp (originally Christopher McCandless) was adapted into a book – Into The Wild by Jon Krakauker. The book is an expansion of Krauker’s 9000 word article “Death of an Innocent”, which appeared in the January 1993 issue of Outside. It was further adapted to a film directed by Sean Penn with Emily Hirsch playing McCandeless.

I read Into The Wild in 2009. If you think that you do not belong here, that there are places in your head, and that you seek pleasure in an escape- Into the Wild is the book for you.into-the-wild-lifebeyondnumbers

And that is why McCandless is a very important connotation. As he said, “Careers are a 21st century invention.

Had McCandless been alive today, he would have been 46 years old. He was a superhero for many and hated by many.

Alaskans hate him for being the arrogant young man that he was. They termed him as somebody having a lack of common sense. His endeavor into a wilderness area unaccompanied, without sufficient planning, experience, preparation, or supplies, without notifying anyone and lacking emergency communication equipment, was contrary to every principle of outdoor survival and, in the eyes of many experienced outdoor enthusiasts, nearly certain to end in misfortune.

McCandeless was trying to be a Henry David Thoreou, a Tolstoy. He was trying to decipher life. He was finding his own answers.

How many of us will take that risk? How many of us will leave our secured lives and do something different that drives us? How may of us would write poetry under the stars? How many of us would have the courage to look at life by living it…by not becoming mechanical?

An excerpt from the book says…

“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

McCandeless did that!

He wished and pursued something. Something that was beyond the understanding of his parents. He did not hate relationships, but he wanted to seek the beyond. This beyond was far ahead of his family ties and engagements, of a career.

As he wrote in his journal “When you want something in life, you just gotta reach out and grab it.” 

McCandeless wished for happiness.

He wanted realization

McCandless is one person. I am sure there are several others. Incidents unknown, untold, not reported. But the spirit of these unheard, unsung heroes are there.

“The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.”

It drives some fanatical. It takes those souls to places- as they say when you plan a journey, a place calls you. 

I have lived through much, and now I think I have found what is needed for happiness. A quiet secluded life in the country, with the possibility of being useful to people to whom it is easy to do good, and who are not accustomed to have it done to them. And work which one hopes may be of some use. Then rest, nature, books, music, love for one’s neighbor. Such is my idea of happiness. And then,on top of all that, you for a mate, and children perhaps. What more can the heart of a man desire?”  Underlined by McCandeless in the book Family Happiness by Leo Tolstoy

And he realized…that he needs to go back from the bus, get out and tell his parents, people he loved that he learned in wilderness a valuable lesson…that HAPPINESS IS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED.

Had McCandless’s guidebook to edible plants warned that Hedysarum alpinum seeds contain a neurotoxin that can cause paralysis; he probably would have walked out of the wild in late August with no more difficulty than when he walked into the wild in April, and would still be with us.

Alexander Supertramp is a learning for many of us. That it is good to search and seek truth. That truth is undeniable and many a times – harsh. But some of us learn it the hard way. We need blows to find our niche.

We need to know, that in a total world population of 7.119 billion, we are a speck. We are grains of sand constantly moving here and there. Finding space, direction, lightness and the question to the eternal answer:

Why am I living?

Swati Sambyal

Swati is an environmental researcher, poet, blogger and a free lancer. She is a published author of "Painted", a book of 43 contemporary poems. She is passionate about life, people, music, words and places. She is trying hard to bridge the gap between the usual life chores and the unusuality that resides in her. It is a journey.



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