Christopher Johnson McCandless (February 12, 1968 – August 1992) was an American hiker who adopted the alias Alexander Supertramp and ventured into the Alaskan wilderness in April 1992 with little food and equipment, hoping to live simply for a time in solitude. Almost four months later, McCandless's remains were found, weighing only 67 pounds (30 kg). It has recently been speculated that Chris had developed lathyrism, caused by his consumption of seeds from a flowering plant in the legume family which contain the neurotoxin ODAP. McCandless's resulting paralysis would have caused a gradual inability to move, hunt or forage and this could have led to his death from starvation. His death occurred in a converted bus used as a backcountry shelter, near Lake Wentitika in Denali National Park and Preserve. In January 1993, Jon Krakauer published McCandless' story in that month's issue of Outside magazine. Inspired by the details of McCandless's story, Krakauer wrote and published Into the Wild in 1996 about McCandless' travels. The book was adapted into a film by Sean Penn in 2007 with Emile Hirsch portraying McCandless. That same year, McCandless's story also became the subject of Ron Lamothe's documentary The Call of the Wild. A full-length article on McCandless also appeared in the February 8, 1993 issue of the The New Yorker magazine. Earlier years
Christopher McCandless was born in El Segundo, California, the first of two children to Walter "Walt" McCandless and Wilhelmina "Billie" Johnson. Chris had one younger sister, Carine. In 1976, the family settled in Annandale, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C., after his father was employed as an antenna specialist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). His mother worked as a secretary at Hughes Aircraft and later assisted her husband with his successful home-based consulting company in Annandale. Walt and Billie often fought and sometimes contemplated divorce. Chris and Carine had six half-siblings living in California from Walt's first marriage. Walt was not yet divorced from his first wife when Chris and Carine were born; however, Chris did not discover his father's affair until a summer trip to Southern California in 1986. This discovery caused him to hold a lot of bitterness towards his father, and could have been a factor in his views about society. At school, teachers noticed McCandless was unusually strong-willed.[who?] In adolescence he coupled this with intense idealism and physical endurance. In high school, he served as captain of the cross-country team, urging teammates to treat running as a spiritual exercise in which they were "running against the forces of darkness ... all the evil in the world, all the hatred." On June 2, 1986, McCandless graduated from W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia. On June 10, McCandless embarked on one of his first major adventures in which he traveled throughout the country in his Datsun B-210, arriving at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, two days prior to the beginning of fall classes. His upper middle class background and academic success were drivers for his contempt of what he saw as the empty materialism of society. McCandless was strongly influenced by Jack London, Leo Tolstoy, W. H. Davies and Henry David Thoreau. In his junior year, he declined membership in the Phi Beta Kappa Society, on the basis that honors and titles were irrelevant. McCandless graduated from Emory on May 12, 1990, with a Bachelor's degree, double majoring in history and anthropology. He envisioned separating from organized society for a Thoreauvian period of solitary contemplation. Travels
In May 1990, Christopher McCandless donated the remaining $24,000, given to him by a family friend for his law degree, to Oxfam International, a hunger prevention charity. Towards the end of June, he began traveling under the name "Alexander" McCandless until later...
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