In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter.

I have always be fascinated and saddened by the story of Chris McCandless. The book, “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer, is one of my favorite. Jon tells about Chris, who died of starvation, on August 18,1992 — 112 days after he walked into the wild, and 19 days before six hunters would happen across the old bus numbered 142 and his body inside.

Soon after graduating from college, Chris left home and disappeared, changing his name and covering his tracks to avoid being found. He wanted to get away where no one could find him. He wanted to be a “nobody.”

By all accounts, Chris was very bright and charming. One of his dreams was to challenge himself by living off the land in Alaska. In the Spring of 1992, he followed the Stampede Trail and crossed the Teklanika River to live by himself near Denali National Park. He wanted to live by his wits, and burned his bridges by going with only ten pounds of rice, a 22 rifle and some books. He ignored the advice of people who lived in the area, and refused to take any maps or arrange any follow-up. He learned to hunt and gather, kept a journal and took occasional pictures. Though he got very thin, he seemed to be doing well. After several weeks, he decided to return to civilization, but found the Teklanika River to be full and wild, impassable. He returned to the abandoned bus he was inhabiting, possibly to wait for the waters to recede. He later became very weak, and eventually died in the bus. Ironically, a couple of miles from where the Stampede Trail crossed the Teklanika River was a line across the river with a tram attached on Chris’s side. He could easily have crossed the river. The exact cause for his death is not known.

Feelings about Chris McCandless’s adventures vary. Many feel he was stupid and reckless to take these chances. Others that he suffered from mental problems that made him “want to get away from everyone and just be a nobody.” No matter what you believe, it is, all the same, a sad ending to a person who felt they wanted to hide from everyone, maybe even God.

David said this about God in Psalm 139, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Can I hide from God? No. And when I find out just how good He is, why would I want to?


If you want to read a short version of the story of Christoper McCandless you can read “Death of an Innocent,” published by Outside magazine.

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Chris says:

    Sad story, great point.

    Max Lucado offered the following that was just as sad and tragic.

    REBECCA THOMPSON fell twice from the Fremont Canyon Bridge. She died both times. The first fall broke her heart; the second broke her neck.
    She was only eighteen years of age when she and her eleven-year-old sister were abducted by a pair of hoodlums near a store in Casper, Wyoming. They drove the girls forty miles southwest to the Fremont Canyon Bridge, a one-lane, steel-beamed structure rising 112 feet above the North Platte River.
    The men brutally beat and raped Rebecca. She somehow convinced them not to do the same to her sister Amy. Both were thrown over the bridge into the narrow gorge. Amy died when she landed on a rock near the river, but Rebecca slammed into a ledge and was ricocheted into deeper water.
    With a hip fractured in five places, she struggled to the shore. To protect her body from the cold, she wedged herself between two rocks and waited until the dawn. But the dawn never came for Rebecca. Oh, the sun came up, and she was found. The physicians treated her wounds, and the courts imprisoned her attackers. Life continued, but the dawn never came.
    The blackness of her night of horrors lingered. She was never able to climb out of the canyon. So in September 1992, nineteen years later, she returned to the bridge. Against her boyfriend’s pleadings, she drove seventy miles-per-hour to the North Platte River. With her two year-old daughter and boyfriend at her side, she sat on the edge of the Fremont Canyon Bridge and wept. Through her tears she retold the story. The boyfriend didn’t want the child to see her mother cry, so he carried the toddler
    to the car. That’s when he heard her body hit the water. And that’s when Rebecca Thompson died her second death. The sun never dawned on Rebecca’s dark night. Why? What eclipsed the light from her world?

    Oh how we need to taste the goodness of God in our lives. Sorry this was so long. Please forgive.

  2. Paula Harrington says:

    Wow, how hopeless we are without God.

    Great post, Trey

  3. TREY MORGAN says:

    Chris … never too long for a Lucado story. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. Neva says:

    Both touching stories. Makes me realize how important it is for us to tell the lost that there is hope–that He is Hope.
    I like posts with spiritual applications. Thanks Trey

  5. lisa leichner says:

    How sad. I wonder if it got scary out in the wilderness by himself. I, for one, can’t stand to be by myself (is that because the company’s not all that great?); I would never head out to the wilderness, but then some people aren’t like me, needing constant companionship. Wonder what his last thoughts were.

  6. Brian Nicklaus says:

    thanks for bumming me out..

  7. TREY MORGAN says:

    I think there is a lot of Chris McCandless in a lot of us. Are we really any different than him?

    We laugh at Adam and Even because they tried to hide from God in the garden. Do we not do the very same thing when are ashamed to come to God with our sin because we’ll disappoint him? So we just don’t tell him about it (like He doesn’t know already?).

  8. chris says:

    Sorry for bumming you out, Brian. But, if it will help, I posted part one of “what if” on my site.

  9. Scott Wakefield says:

    There’s a great song about this called “Walk Into The Wild,” by Harrod and Funck, who have since disbanded. They were a couple REALLY GREAT acoustic singer-songwriters from my alma mater, Wheaton College. Here’s a brief bio: http://www.pastestore.com/artist/10060. Jason Harrod, one half of the duo, is still writing good music. The song is hard to get ’cause it’s probably out of print. I think the only place I know of that has the CD the song is from is here: http://www.wheatonbooks.com/ePOS?width=120&vlink=%23c14704&valign=bottom&topmargin=0&this_category=256&text=black&store=767&set_count_cookie=YES&rightmargin=0&qty=100&marginwidth=0&marginheight=0&listtype=begin&link=%23003366&leftmargin=0&item_qty=100&item_number=40081630001&item4cat_anchor=1&height=100%25&form=shared3%2fgm%2fdetail%2ehtml&design=767&current_total_count=29&cellspacing=0&cellpadding=5&category_code=256&border=0&bgcolor=white&alink=%23ffcc00&align=center

    It’s a great song.

  10. TREY MORGAN says:

    Scott … thanks. I think I saw the link somewhere a while back on the song. I loved the book. It was an amazing adventure.

  11. Stoned-Campbell Disciple says:

    Truly a tragic story. One I did not know.

    I think another lesson here is the importance of recognizing our dependence upon community for our “survivability.” God never intended “man” to be alone. We humans do not make good Lone Rangers. When we attempt to do so … tragedy usually follows.

    Thanks for the link.

    Bobby Valentine

  12. Gallagher says:


    “Into the Wild” is a fascinating book. I read it upon recommendation from my brother. The story got me hooked form the beginning.

    Such a tragic story of a young man losing focus and hiding from the world.

    We all try to hide from God at one time or another. When I was little I thought I could hide behind a bush and not get in trouble by my mother. Only when I grew up could I see my hiding place left me in the wide open and I could even bee seen through the branches of the bush.

  13. TREY MORGAN says:

    Gallagher – amazing book. I was hoping someone would come along that had read it. Did you know they’re making a movie about it this summer?

  14. bruce says:

    I think we find ourselves hiding out in the open with a crowd more often than in a wilderness.
    Many times we placate our sin and guilt with busy work, playtime, social mimics of the same sin not realizing we are trying to “hide” from God. It seems exchanging God for a lie is a form of hiding. Once the lie is swallowed and disolved into our being then hiding no longer seems necessary – mainly because “there is no god, if there is – He doesn’t discipline, He loves (man’s concept of love) and is warm and fuzzy, etc…”
    Without Christ there are very good reasons to try and hide! I don’t know about Chris’ story but from experience I have felt like hiding a time or two and yes I know I can have confidence before God in Christ (Hebrews) and all my sins have been taken care of in Christ (past, present and future)(I John) but “hiding” ostensibly beats acceptance of grace.

  15. john dobbs says:

    On the other hand, life at times seems so crowded / hectic / relentless. I don’t know what plagued Chris McCandless … but it’s not hard for me to see the attractiveness of a wilderness solitude. However, I am a great indoorsman and this would not do for me. And solitude is a welcome respite that comes too seldom … yet it is a time of spiritual connectedness to God if that is what we are seeking.

    Just throwing a different light on the subject. I agree with all above, though, that this is tragic.

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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