Long a destination for adventurers seeking to know and understand the place where Christopher McCandless passed away as he strove to make a life for himself in the Alaska wild, Bus 142, or the “Magic Bus” as McCandless referred to it, has been removed from its remote resting place by Chinook helicopter.
According to a report from the New York Times, the Alaska Army National Guard flew out in a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter to first remove hazards and prepare the bus for exfiltration. Then, after straps were applied, a CH-47. Chinook helicopter was used to lift the bus out of its resting place to be transported to a “safe location.”
The Alaska National Guard was interested in moving the bus as many travelers, moved by Jon Krakauer’s 1996 book Into The Wild and its 2007 film adaptation, made their own, often dangerous, journeys to the bus. A number of visitors to the site have perished in the difficult wilderness conditions that surround the site. CNN reports that last year, a Belarussian woman died as she tried to hike to the bus, and a group of Italian hikers needed to be rescued on their return from the site the February before.
Though McCandless may have made the bus famous, he isn’t actually the one that put it there in the first place. The bus, a 1946 International Harvester which originally belonged to the Fairbanks public transit system, had been stationed in the wilderness to be used as a shelter for construction workers building a road in the region. When the road was finished, the bus remained in the woods abandoned.
McCandless found the bus after driving west, determined to live a life in solitude in the Alaskan wilderness. Armed with a .22 caliber rifle and a sack of rice, he survived more than 100 days in the wilderness before succumbing to the conditions.
Though his demise was tragic, many have seen McCandless as a contemporary transcendentalist in the vein of Emerson and Thoreau. Though those who continue to idolize McCandless won’t be able to find his bus out there in the wild anymore, I’m sure they will continue to find relevance in his story for years to come. Hopefully, Alaska will make the bus accessible once again, perhaps under safer conditions. Will it no longer be as remote as it once was? Sure. But at least people will be able to connect with it safely.