The bus looks exactly as it did all those years ago, and whatever you think of McCandless and how he ended up dying here, walking inside is powerful. Messages from those who’ve made the journey — even McCandless’ family — are everywhere.
“Under the bunk is a little suitcase that his folks had kept emergency supplies in and a little log that people used to write in,” said Wallace. Also in the suitcase was a Bible that McCandless’ parents left for him in the magic bus in July 1993, when they came to honor his memory one year from the date of his death.”
“I wondered briefly if it would be hard to enter your last home,” wrote McCandless’ mother. “The wonderful pictures you left in your final testament welcomed me in and I’m finding it difficult to leave instead. I can so appreciate the absolute joy in your eyes reported by your self portraits.”
The bus seems to have taken on the quality of a shrine.
“Some of the people I bring here break down and have a pretty emotional moment,” said Wallace. “Hell, they almost have me crying some of the time, they get so broken up over it. Regardless of what you think of the guy, he did die here, so it’s kind of hallowed ground in my opinion.”
The family put a plaque inside that includes McCandless’ last words, found inside his journal. The plaque reads:
Christopher Johnson McCandless
February 1968 to August 1992
Chris, our beloved son and brother, died here during his adventurous travels in search of how he could best realize Gods’ great gift of life. With his final message, “I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and God Bless all,” we commend his soul to the world.
The McCandless family, July 1993.
The bus and the stories it holds remain a goal for an untold number of McCandless followers. Did Paterson make it? When our story first aired, we weren’t sure. The last we saw him he was about eight hours into his hike, hungry and tired, but he wouldn’t accept any food.
15 years after McCandless — just like so many others who’ve come along since— Paterson walked into the wild.
And eventually, he walked out of the wild. Paterson did his journey, telling ABC News that “it was a 26 mile hike in from the nearest road and took two days for me to walk to the bus. An awesome trip!”