Into The Wild


Chapter 6 to Chapter 7

Chapter 6 Summary

After Burres drops McCandless off in Salton City, he hikes into the desert and sets up camp in a solitary spot near a place known to locals as Oh-My-God Hot Springs. The springs are home to a large group of drifters, hippie families, and nudists. He regularly walks the four miles into town for supplies, mostly water and rice. One day in January, an elderly army veteran named Ronald Franz gives him a ride back to his campsite. Franz, a lonely widower whose wife and only child were killed by a drunk driver in 1957, develops paternal feelings for McCandless instantly. After church one Sunday, he drives out to McCandless’s campsite to give him a lecture in the hopes of getting McCandless away from what he perceives as the bad influence of the people at the Hot Springs. McCandless assures Franz, “I'm living like this by choice." Over the next few weeks, the two spend a lot of time together. Franz teaches McCandless how to tool leather, and McCandless often talks about his upcoming Alaska adventure. When McCandless announces that he needs to go to San Diego, Franz drives him there.

McCandless spends time living on the streets in San Diego, and then train-hops his way to Seattle. In early March, McCandless calls Franz and asks if he will pick him up in nearby Coachella. Franz complies immediately, and McCandless stays with him for one night. The next day, Franz drives McCandless to Grand Junction, Colorado. On the way, Franz asks if he can adopt the young man. McCandless is uncomfortable, and says they can talk about it after he returns from Alaska. A couple of weeks later, Franz receives a long, impassioned letter from McCandless in which the young man urges him to leave his “safe” life and “hit the Road.” According to McCandless, “You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only… from human relationships. God has placed it all around us… We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living.”


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