Reading the Wild.

Photo by Samuel Sweet on

I now walk into the wild.

Chris McCandless

I’ve been immersing myself into Alaskan literature and movies. Not a whole lot since I’ve got other stuff to do as well as reading books and watching movies, but I’m trying to get into it as much as possible. Last night I watched Into the Wild for the second time in my life. The story is interesting: a young 20ish man leaves behind the trappings of the modern world for an abandoned bus in the middle of Alaska to try his hand at survival. It doesn’t end well, as many people would know (it’s a famous story), but many people are enamored by Chris McCandless’s sense of freedom and adventure away from modern comforts.

I first read the book sometime during my college years. I enjoyed the story, but found the writing to be dry to the point of being sleep inducing. The movie I enjoyed much better, but on the second viewing, I’m not sure how I feel about him. I want to be like him in the sense of being able to go where I want and not have to worry about money and being stuck by rules and regulations. But at the same time, I like comfort and I don’t want to die struggling to survive in the way that he did. He should have been better prepared on how to live out in the wilderness, especially in Alaska. I read his sister’s book a few years ago, called The Wild Truth, and I enjoyed her perspective on her brother much better. It made me appreciate why Chris did what he did. In Krakauer’s book, he comes across as arrogant and irresponsible and yes, he was irresponsible in the way of learning how to survive off the land, but he didn’t seem as arrogant from Carine’s story. From her story, I wanted to cheer him on and hope for the best, even when I knew it ended in the worst.

I still don’t know if I’d be able to do what he did: to just walk off and leave everything. People like Chris weren’t born like the rest of us; they were born different.

I also finished a book called Braving the Wilderness: A Father, a Daughter, and an Unforgettable Journey into the Alaskan Wild by James Campbell. The author takes his daughter Aidan up to Alaska on three different trips for 3.5 weeks each time. The first time they went to help his cousin build a small cabin for him and his wife. The second time, they go up to visit them during the winter and learn how to survive there during the season. The third time they go for a canoeing trip on the Hulahula River. I enjoyed this book a lot because it was about connecting with family members in a wild environment. It wasn’t exactly a “controlled environment” per se, but they were with experienced people who have lived off the land for decades and could help them out in a pinch.

Now I’m (re) reading Woodsong by Gary Paulsen. I haven’t read it since I was in fifth grade, so I was happy when I discovered the library had a copy of it. I remembered it was about him racing the Iditarod, but I didn’t remember a lot of what he talked about. His stories are very simple, and this is good for young readers, but as an adult I wish he had added a little more detail so that I could immerse myself. I’m still enjoying it though and it’s a good length for the short time I have to finish reading it by.

I hope to get another Alaskan book in for the next week, but I might not.


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