An abandoned bus that is better known as “Bus 142” or the “Magic Bus” was airlifted from its location near the boundary of Denali National Park and Preserve a few weeks ago.
Made famous by the book Into the Wild and movie of the same name, the reason for its removal was cited as an urgent matter of public safety.
For many years hikers and adventurers have made the pilgrimage into dangerous territory to reach this iconic site.
The rusty old vehicle was immortalised by Krakauer’s novel, outlining one man’s solitary odyssey in the Alaskan outback.
However, the area has little to no cellphone service and is characterised by unpredictable weather and at-times swollen rivers.
There have been plenty of search and rescue missions to the site as well as multiple deaths.
Christopher McCandless, the subject of the book and movie, died of starvation there in 1992.
Surviving for 112 days on nothing but a sack of rice and what he could forage, McCandless left behind a few meager provisions, including a rifle, a diary and cryptic notes on the back pages of a book that identified edible plants, as well as donating his savings to Oxfam and burning all remaining cash.
Many hikers regard McCandless as a contemporary Thoreau, renouncing material goods on a spiritual journey into nature.
However, Krakauer (who intricately documented the journey when writing his book) has been slammed for glorifying such a perilous adventure, especially given the likelihood of underlying mental health issues.
This hasn’t marred its popularity though, with the Into the Wild book having been translated into 30 languages over the years.
Despite the story’s tragic ending, more and more visitors decided to follow in his footsteps, often ill-prepared, and so local officials made the tough decision to remove the bus totally.
As well as being a media sensation, Bus 142 has been a destination and shelter for hikers, despite its usefulness being undermined by its rusty and dilapidated state.
In April of this year a 26-year-old Brazilian man was rescued from the area after running out of food and becoming trapped when ice over the Teklanika River melted and the waters swelled.
Five Italian tourists were rescued in February and last year a 24-year-old woman from Belarus died as she struggled to cross the river after spending two nights at the bus.
At the end of June, a team of Alaska Army National Guard pilots, flight engineers, crew chiefs and mechanics took a Black Hawk helicopter to the bus’s resting site to begin the process.
Starting by clearing away vegetation, they then cut holes in the bus’s structure to attach straps to its frame.
The helicopter then hoisted the bus into the air and over the treetops to a nearby pit, where it was loaded onto a trailer and driven to a safe location.
The bus will now remain in storage until an option for its permanent placement is settled upon.
For now the bus is in the state’s hands, though there are plans to display the bus for the public to view.
A suitcase that was inside, offering nothing other than sentimental value, was returned to the McCandless family in an emotional handover.
Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker commented:
An icon for so many years, the bus had become a hazard that lured hikers into forbidding environments that should not have been undertaken so lightly.
Though it may have been physically removed, its memory will live on forever.
Into The Wild
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Last update on 2020-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API