Into The Wild


Chapter 16 to Chapter 18, Epilogue

Chapter 16 Summary

The action now returns to McCandless, at the point in which he left Carthage in mid-April 1992. He hitchhikes toward Alaska, pausing to soak in the Liard River Hot Springs on the edge of the Yukon Territory. There, he encounters a truck driver named Gaylord Stuckey who, like most people, takes a liking to the boy. He drives him all the way to Fairbanks, learning about McCandless’s family, including Walt McCandless’s bigamy. Stuckey warns McCandless that he is planning to set out into the bush too early in the season; nothing will be growing, he says. When Stuckey drops McCandless off at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, where McCandless wants to research edible plants, he entreats the young man to call his family. He even gives McCandless his credit card number for the purpose, but McCandless simply says that maybe he’ll call home and maybe he won’t.

During his two-day stay in Fairbanks, McCandless purchases a fairly comprehensive field guide to plants in the region and a .22 caliber Remington semiautomatic. He sends postcards to Wayne Westerberg and Jan Burres, both of which allude to the possibility that he may not return from his “Alaskan odyssey.” On April 28, he catches the ride with Gallien which takes him to the Stampede Trail.

As he begins his odyssey, McCandless is exultant. He easily wades across the Teklanika River, which is still fordable because its headwaters haven’t melted yet, and on May 1, he comes across the bus and decides to “take advantage of its crude comforts” for awhile. On a piece of plywood inside the bus, he inscribes a jubilant message, declaring that “now after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure… No longer to be poisoned by civilization he flees, and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.” After staying in the bus for four days, McCandless resumes hiking west.

For the first couple of weeks, McCandless has trouble catching game and reports “weakness”...

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