Into Thin Air is one of my favorite outdoors-related books, so when I finally came around to reading Krakauer's other famous piece, Into the Wild, I was anticipating another great book. Thankfully, I was right. The story of Chris McCandless is heart-wrenching on many levels. Krakauer details McCandless's internal struggle with his father's infidelity and overbearing parenting style, his failure to converge his extremely high level of intelligence with the requisite motivation and work required to succeed as a student, and his disapproval and dismay at society's seemingly wasteful existence that came across to McCandless as, essentially, humanity raping Mother Earth. We can all understand and admire McCandless's journey throughout the lower 48 states in a 1982 Datsun, as we've probably all had, at least one time in our lives, a stronge urge to just "get away." (I know I have, and that's what keeps my romance with the woods burning strong.) McCandless, though, takes it a few steps too far when his desire to be alone and connect his soul with the earth drives him to venture into the Alaskan wilderness so utterly ill-prepared that his four month survival is nothing short of incredible. Those who pounce on McCandless's death as a great "I told you so!" regarding preparation and due diligence should take a step back and consider that this young man lived off the land in one of our continent's most inhospitable habitats for four months, eating wild berries and plants and killing everything from small game such as squirrels and ptarmigan, to felling a Caribou in his second month with nothing more than a .22-caliber rifle. His death was not brought on by arrogance towards nature or an ignorance towards preparation, but poisoning from toxic mold growing on seeds he was eating. And this is the beauty of Krakauer's narration of McCandless's story: you're torn between defending a young man who had the courage and wherewithal to actually do something that so many of us would never think to do, yet he did it in a way that can't be defended, for had he scouted the land or gone into the wild with the requisite survival tools, he would have lived. Krakauer doesn't pick a side to this fight; he leaves it up to you, the reader, and 24 hours after finishing the book, I still don't know what side I'm on.
I'm just a guy who loves to hike, fish, hunt, camp, and snowmobile, preferably with my wife Brooke and our three kids, Hunter, Max & Shea. I play the part of a lawyer during the week and try to get outside and get dirty on the weekends.