Into the Wild Bus Removed By Nat’l Guard Because Hikers Kept Risking Their Lives to See It
At least two people have died while trying to reach the fabled 1946 International.
Adventurers have flocked to the abandoned Fairbanks City Transit System Bus number 142 for more than two decades, risking their lives for a chance to see the vehicle immortalized by Jon Krakauer's non-fiction work, Into the Wild. The book, which was published in 1996, depicts the life of Chris McCandless who left his home and took to the Alaskan wilderness in an ultimately fatal journey some four years earlier. McCandless lived in the 1946 International Harvester for 114 days before being trapped by Teklanika River floodwaters, and hikers have treated the old city bus as a holy place of sorts ever since.
Thursday, though, the bus was removed via helicopter by the Alaska National Guard.
Many outdoor enthusiasts who have ventured into the woods of Denali National Park narrowly escaped while trying to find the so-called "Magic Bus." At least two have died in their hunt for the vehicle with rescue crews often being sent to recover those who fall victim to the treacherous terrain. This is why Alaska elected to airlift the bus from its longtime resting spot.
State officials explain that the dilapidated vehicle has since been "secured" in an undisclosed location.
Claire Ackermann, a 29-year-old Swiss woman, drowned in the Teklanika while attempting to ford it in 2010. Another woman, 24-year-old Veramika Maikamava of Belarus, suffered the same tragic fate last year. In a statement Thursday, the Alaska Guard made mention of 15 bus-related rescues between 2009 and 2017—that's not counting the hundreds of calls they received for hikers that became lost or injured on their way to the site.
It's unknown where the bus will live on; however, Alaskan officials will surely do what it takes to avoid others suffering the same deaths as Ackermann, Maikamava and, ultimately, McCandless. Krakauer visited the bus in 1993, months after McCandless' death, and found his boots still sitting there, along with his clothes laying on the stove to dry. It was a haunting experience, as Krakauer recounted to TheWashington Post.
“It really gobsmacked me,” he said of the bus' removal. “This place has been desecrated and now it’s been obliterated. But it’s really tragic people keep dying doing stupid stuff.”
“I wish the bus could have remained how it was,” Krakauer continued. “But I wrote the book that ruined it.”
Into the Wild would later be turned into a feature film, reaching a massive audience that came to be familiar with McCandless' tale.
“We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination,” Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Corri A. Feige said in a statement.
“However, this is an abandoned and deteriorating vehicle that was requiring dangerous and costly rescue efforts, but more importantly, was costing some visitors their lives. I’m glad we found a safe, respectful and economical solution to this situation.”
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