STORIES
Explorers Heroes

Christopher McCandless

by Julie from Hampton

<a href=http://outside.away.com/outside/disc/images/bus.jpg>Chris McCandless</a>
Chris McCandless

Most people in life have many goals that they want to achieve in life; whether it’s being successful, having a family, or being a teacher. But what if you had no specific goal in life? What if, you didn’t even want one?

Christopher McCandless grew up in Annandale, Virginia, in a well-to-do family. McCandless was spiritual and different. Chris was unusually smart as a young child; he had an amazing memory. By the time Chris was three he was already leaving his house by himself, walking down the street to his neighbors, walking in their house unannounced, and getting himself some candy from their candy drawer. Not exactly the typical day in the life of a three year old to some. Chris was a good student, getting easy A’s in grade school and high school. Chris was naturally a good student, school wasn’t work for him and those A grades came easily. Chris didn’t really understand what school would do for him later in life.

Chris was the captain of the high school cross country team. Some of the teammates remember Chris leading them on unusual runs: “He would lead us on long, killer runs, as far and as fast as we could go, down strange roads, through the woods, whatever. The whole idea was to lose our bearings, to push ourselves into unknown territory. Then we'd run at a slightly slower pace until we found a road we recognized, and race home again at full speed. In a certain sense, that's how Chris lived his entire life,” says a former friend and teammate of Chris. He would tell the runners that they were “running against the forces of darkness....all the evil in the world, all the hatred.” After Chris graduated high school in 1990, he didn’t go to college; he didn’t even apply for college. Instead Christopher McCandless vanished.

Chris donated his life savings of $24,000 to the charity Oxfam International, a charity that helps to reduce world wide poverty, suffering and injustice. Then he changed his name to “Alex Supertramp” and vanished. Alex hitchhiked to Alaska where he would go on the journey of a lifetime. Alex hitchhiked all over the western United States, through Arizona, California, South Dakota, even Canada. Wherever Alex went he would find himself a job, make some money, quit the job and hitchhike to someplace new, somewhere unknown. Alex had no goal in life. He didn’t care where his life went, as long it was going somewhere.

Alex met many people along his journey, but touched even more with his stories and his kind heart. Wherever he went he would make good friends with the locals, and when he left he was sure to get their mailing address and write to them whenever he found the time. Alex’s family didn’t know where “Chris” was when he vanished, but they had FBI searching for him, which hard to do because anyone who came in contact with him knew him only as “Alex.” Chris did send them a letter once or twice, but it had no return address.

Chris McCandless was an amazing man. Chris didn’t want the tedious life his father had which consisted of work, constant work. Chris didn’t care what anyone else thought of him, which is important in life; if you care what people think about you, you will spend your whole life feeling restless. As brave as Chris was, Alex may have been braver. Alex inspired the people he befriended on his journey, and they will never forget him. Alex was strong-willed and didn’t let anything get in his way. Alex is an icon to travelers and mountain climbers all over the world. Alex sparked the beginning of more travelers who heard his story, and envisioned the same journey for themselves. And even though Alex made his final stop in Alaska, and passed away in the wilderness, he wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Alex knew his journey would probably end up costing him his life. The life the wilderness took from him was the one he knew he would be remembered by. Alex was a brave, kind hearted individual who experienced life in a way few of us ever will, not because we don’t want to, but because we don’t have the will power and valiant personality Alex Supertramp had.

Page created on 9/18/2006 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 9/18/2006 12:00:00 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Christopher McCandless a.k.a Alex Supertramp - Article in "Outside Magazine" by Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild.