The bus made famous by Jon Krakauer’s nonfiction book, Into the Wild, and the 2007 movie of the same name, was removed from Alaska’s Stampede Trail this week for public safety reasons. The bus was airlifted out of the Healy, Alaska wilderness using a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, according to a Facebook post from the Alaska National Guard.
Krakauer’s 1996 book tells the true story of Christopher McCandless, who donated his life savings to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska at age 24. Unable to get back to civilization, he took refuge in an abandoned 1946 bus that once had been used as shelter by road workers, but died of starvation after more than 100 days. Numerous travelers who read the book or saw the movie later tried to reach the bus, with some needing rescue, and one woman from Belarus dying in the attempt.
“We encourage people to enjoy Alaska’s wild areas safely, and we understand the hold this bus has had on the popular imagination,” Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige said in a statement. “However, this is an abandoned and deteriorating vehicle that was requiring dangerous and costly rescue efforts. More importantly, it was costing some visitors their lives.”
The Alaska Army National Guard moved the bus as part of a training mission “at no cost to the public or additional cost to the state,” Feige said. The statement says the crew also ensured the safety of a suitcase with sentimental value to the McCandless family. A 2003 article in Nidus, a publication by University of Pittsburgh MFA students, reports that McCandless’ mother left the suitcase filled with survival gear, with visitors adding to and taking from it over the years. The bus will be stored at a secure site until a decision is made about its future.