Listening to: “Blue Ridge Mountains” – Fleet Foxes

Apparently, Into the Wild has spurred a rash of pilgrimages out to the spot where Christopher McCandless met his end, in an abandoned bus along the Stampede Road in south central Alaska. I can’t say I’m surprised. If I go to Alaska–which I hope to sometime in the next few years, if and when I can cobble together enough cash–I’d probably also be tempted to make the trek.

But it’s sad. People setting off into the wilderness not in search of nature or of themselves, but in search of a grave? A monument? The Stampede Road becoming, well, stampeded by tourists?

But here’s the worst:

“Even tourists without plans to see the bus can still view a piece of the saga. Excursion businesses in Denali National Park and Preserve are offering popular off-road McCandless tours that take visitors partway along the muddy, rutted Stampede trail. Some people are disappointed that the scenery is flatter than the flashy snow-covered peaks shown in the movie, only to discover those scenes were filmed closer to the tiny town of Cantwell about 40 miles to the south.”

Do your research before you strap on the ol’ rucksack, kids; it’s a fic-ed up adaptation, not a documentary. And also, seriously, “McCandless tours”? If Chris were around today, what would he think of that? So much for a aescetic’s quest, away from all that is commercial to find the heart of things.

One more thing about this article:

“They envisioned hordes of copycats making dangerous pilgrimages for a character portrayed as a spiritual visionary rather than an ill-prepared misfit, as many Alaskans view McCandless.”

See, why does it have to be either-or? Why can’t it be both? McCandless was both a spiritual visionary and an ill-prepared misfit. I’m sure in his day, people were calling Siddhartha Gautama a freakin’ idiot, too. (Not that I’m say McCandless was the next Buddha).


Alright, thus endeth the rant. I could use a trip into the wastes myself at the moment. Instead, I’m going to New York next weekend. Practically the same thing, right?


“My brother where do you intend to go tonight?
I heard that you missed your connecting flight,
to the Blue Ridge Mountains, over near Tennessee.

You’re ever welcome with me any time you like,
Let’s drive to the country side, leave behind some green-eyed look-a-likes,
So no one gets worried, no.
So no one gets worried, no..”