I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. This book, about a portion of Chris McCandless’ life, brought a wanderlust to me the first time I read it and it still does. It rekindled a desire to spend more time living in and experiencing the outdoors. I had no intention (and still don’t) of doing all that McCandless did but it did have a profound affect on me and, in part, poked and prodded me to where I am today. Each time I’ve read it I have a difficult time putting it down. I’ve been taken away in my imagination to the people McCandless met and befriended, lives he touched and affected, odd jobs he held, the journey he took, hardships he endured and ultimately his death. Regarding McCandless’ death, the author …speculated that he had inadvertently poisoned himself by eating seeds from a plant commonly called wild potato… that weakened McCandless enough that he was unable to … hike out to the highway or hunt effectively, leading to starvation… For me, there were no more surprises or details about Chris McCandless and the portion of his life as described in Into the Wild, until today.
Today, I came across an article in The New Yorker entitled How Chris McCandless Died. This was posted by Jon Krakauer (the author of Into the Wild) and provides additional details about what caused the death of McCandless and references work by Ronald Hamilton …that appears to close the book on the cause of McCandless’ death…. Without going into detail, Hamilton speculates that Chris McCandless perished as a result from a condition known as lathyrism. Briefly, lathyrism is characterized by lack of strength in the legs or inability to move the legs. McCandless’ inability to move his legs left him unable to forage and provide for himself and ultimately resulted in his starvation and untimely death.
If you’re inclined, read the afore-mentioned articles for more details. If you haven’t read Into the Wild, I recommend that you read it, enjoy it and be carried away as I have been each time.
Until next time…
When BackPackin’ go GreenPackin’