Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chris McCandless Revisited

Chris McCandless, 1968-1992

Dreams from the LORD 2007-2010
15 August 2010

Four days ago (11 August), I was hitchhiking in Idaho and this guy picked me up. He told me that he went to school at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia; he graduated in 1994. So I asked him about Chris McCandless (Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer) (McCandless went to school at Emory).

This guy said that he was three years behind McCandless in school. After McCandless’ body was discovered in Alaska (1992), he was in an English class (in 1993?) with a professor that had taught McCandless a few years previous. The professor had the class study some of McCandless’ papers.

This guy told the professor and the class that he thought McCandless showed a lot of hubris or suburban hubris when he tried to live in the wilderness of Alaska; he thought that McCandless was not well-prepared to live on his own. The professor and the rest of the class reacted very negatively to this guy when he used the word “hubris.” This guy ended up getting a C- in the class.

Hubris: “n. [Gk., violence] Excessive pride: ARROGANCE.”
--Webster’s II New Riverside University Dictionary

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
The Jerry Shey Family
Few Thumbs Barred From Rides
Fairbanks Bus 142
Book Review:  High Plains Drifter
Into the Wild (2007) (Tragedy, Epiphany and Closure)
Chris McCandless on 20/20 (1997)
The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless


I just discovered a couple of days ago that someone is trying to sell my manuscript (High Plains Drifter: A Hitchhiking Journey Across America) on Ebay.

I got a ride from Lolo, Montana to Orofino, Idaho on U.S. 12--I rode in the back of a pickup. I walked to the library in Orofino and googled "Tim Shey hitchhiker" just for the heck of it. One of the results was "Hitchhiking America/ Hiker Rage", so I clicked-on to it. I was surprised to see that someone was trying to sell my manuscript.

I thought it was pretty funny.

An American Pilgrim:  Some Reflections on High Plains Drifter
The First Time I Rode a Freight Train & other hitchhiking stories
The Short, Short Hitchhiker

The Life of a Hobo  
Hitchhiking Stories from Digihitch
Stobe the Hobo


  1. "So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man's living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun."

    — Chris McCandless

  2. "Greetings from Fairbanks!
    This is the last you shall hear from me Wayne. Arrived here 2 days ago. It was very difficult to catch rides in the Yukon Territory. But I finally got here. Please return all mail I receive to the sender.
    It might be a very long time before I return South. If this adventure proves fatal and you don't ever hear from me again, I want you to know your a great man. I now walk into the wild. Might be a very long time before I return South...
    I now walk into the wild."

    — Chris McCandless, in postcard sent to Wayne Westerberg in Carthage, South Dakota, from Alaska

  3. Great stuff, Tim!

  4. Thanks. I have always liked Chris McCandless' reckless spirit. Too much of our society is over planned and conformed to the world system. Sometimes you gotta walk on the wild side and boldly go where people tell you not to go. Going against the flow is tough at times, but then you grow new muscle and ride a horse of a different color.

    Better to be reckless than a robot.

    "Be reckless immediately, fling it all out on Him. You do not know when His voice will come, but whenever the realization of God comes in the faintest way imaginable, recklessly abandon. It is only by abandon that you recognize Him. You will only realize His voice more clearly by recklessness."

    --Oswald Chambers

  5. This morning I got a ride with a guy who fights fires for a living. He gave me a ride from west of Helena to Missoula, Montana. He told me that he had a friend who used to work in South Dakota harvesting wheat. He said that he worked with Chris McCandless during the wheat harvest one year.