This Is The Last Photo Of The Man Who Mysteriously Died In The Wilderness He Wrote A Letter Before His Death!

This Is The Last Photo Of The Man Who Mysteriously Died In The Wilderness | He Wrote A Letter Before His Death!

Imagine leaving everything behind – your family, your money, even your name – to chase a dream of living in the wilderness. This is exactly what the 24-year-old Christopher McCandless did. He comes from a family of great wealth but he gave them all up and travelled across the US. While he was in the Alaskan forests he stayed inside an abandoned bus, Bus 142 also called ‘The Magic Bus.’ However, things turned tragic and he was found dead. His body was only recovered 19 days later. Many believed that he passed away due to starvation, while some believed that he was poisoned with some seeds. But there’s more to his story. Let’s have a closer look at the last photo he took of himself, his farewell letter, and his journal. 

Chris’s Abusive Early Life

Christopher grew up in a wealthy family in the suburbs of Washington D.C. He was the oldest child of Wilhelmina Marie “Billie” McCandless and Walter “Walt” McCandless. Chris’s father worked as an antenna specialist for NASA, while his mother worked as a secretary for Hughes Aircraft. After graduating with honors in history and anthropology, he sought something beyond the material comforts of his upbringing. 

His sister Carine McCandless later wrote the memoir, ‘The Wild Truth.’ She mentions how their parents imposed verbal and physical abuse upon each other and their children. Most of such abuse was fueled by her father’s alcohol addiction. According to her, the reasons for his brother’s disappearance are their abusive childhood and Chris’s reading of Jack London’s The Call of the Wild. 

Image source: People

The Call of the Wild

Chris’s life was one of contrast. Disappointed by a society focused on consumerism, Chris went into the Alaskan wilderness. He donated his $24,000 in savings to charity and abandoned his possessions. Chris wasn’t running away; he was moving towards something he believed in deeply.

McCandless initially left Virginia in 1990, driving a Datsun. He took a cross-country trip. However, his car was in poor condition and did not carry any insurance or a license plate. Chris ended up in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. A flash flood hit and his car was of no use. McCandless took the things he needed the most, and kept walking.

Chris’s Final Sanctuary: “The Magic Bus”

In Alaska, Chris found his final shelter in an abandoned bus, which he called ‘the Magic Bus.’ In the heart of the taiga, he sought to survive by hunting. Despite the isolation, Chris found beauty in the simplicity of wilderness life. Yet, the harsh realities of nature soon became overwhelming.

One Last Photo and One Last Note

Chris wanted to make a return after two months in Alaska. However, he was unable to cross the Teklanika River and his adventure came to a tragic end. His physical health soon declined. He decided to take one last picture of himself and write a farewell note to all. “I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may God bless all!” He held the message in the picture and was wrapped up in a jacket. 

last photo Chris McCandless
Chris’s last photo which he took by himself with his handwritten farewell letter

Soon after taking the picture, he passed away. His body was found by hunters on September 6, 1992. Some believed that it was from starvation and malnutrition. However, many debated about his actual cause of death. Some argued that it was from some poisonous wild potato seeds as there were some notes of them even in his journal. On day 91 of his journal, he gave some clues about his understanding and a fair warning about the seeds.

Writings in his personal journal on his final days, leaving clues about poisonous potato seeds

Tragedy Repeats With The Visitors Coming To See The Bus

Chris’s story has inspired countless adventurers to visit the Magic Bus. Jon Krakauer wrote the book, Into the Wild in 1996 inspired by the story. The book was then turned into a Hollywood film titled “Into the Wild,” in 2007. Both the book and film inspired numerous people from various countries to attempt visits to the bus. Unfortunately, this has led to tragic incidents, repeating the dangers that Chris himself faced. Many got lost in the forests and two women were reportedly found dead close to the location of Chris’s death. 

Authorities moved Bus 142 to the University of Alaska Museum of the North, hoping to preserve its legacy while ensuring safety.

Image source: USA Today / BBC / Pinterest (The Magic bus, where Chris lived and died / On top to the right is the bus being moved from the Alaskan forests to the museum by helicopters)
last photo Chris McCandless
Image source: The Today Show / Life Gate


Chris McCandless’s journey is a poignant reminder of the thin line between seeking freedom and courting danger. While some view him as a symbol of ultimate freedom, others see his tale as a caution against unpreparedness. In today’s world, where the quest for authenticity and adventure is often romanticized, Chris’s story urges us to find a balance between our dreams and the realities of the natural world.

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