Timeline

1968-1982 (Young Life)

February 12th, 1968- Born in El Segundo, California (19)

Aprox. 1971- Moved with family to Annandale, Virginia, nearby to father's work in Washington, D.C. (20)

        *Father, Walt McCandless, was an Aerospace Engineer for NASA (19,20)

        *Mother, Wilhelmina "Billie" Johnson, was a secretary at Walt's research facility (106)
        
        *Younger sister, Carine, was his confident (106)

1983-1986 (High School)

        *Tried many sports, but lacked the patience to fine-tune skills (111)

        *Took up running, and was amazing. As coach of cross country team, he told the other runners to imagine they were 
          running away from all of the evil and darkness in the world (112)

chris as cross country runner
      
  *Got all A's throughout High School, except for one F in Physics. Chris refused to format his work in the way the teacher wanted 
         (109)

        *Became obsessed with racial oppression in South Africa (113)

        *Went on first prolonged journey in Yellow Datsun after graduating (18)

        *Was accepted into Emory University, in Georgia (20)


1986-1990 (College)

        *Cut off ties with parents after uncovering an infidelity in his father's past; he had had a sixth child with his first wife, after
         Chris was born with Walt's second wife (121)

        *Recieved $40,000 as a gift for college (20)

        *Co-founded the Emory Wheel, the college newspaper (20)

        *A devote Republican, Chris wrote many scathing articles about Democrats at the time (124)

        *Took long trips in Datsun whenever possible, going to Fairbanks, Alaska for the first time in 1989 (124)

        *Graduated Emory University in 1990 with a 3.72 GPA. (20)

        *Final grades for classes: A in Aparheid and South African Society and History of Anthropological Thought, and A- in 
         Contemporary African Politics and the Food Crisis in Africa (21)

        *Reconnected with parents at Graduation, even gave Billie a Mother's Day card (20)

        *Told family, "I think I'm going to disappear for awhile." (21)

        *Donated remaining $20,000 to OXFAM, an organization trying to end world hunger (20)

        *Family last heard from Chris in June, 1990 (22)


Travels Pt. 1( July, 1990-January, 1991)

July, 1990- Chris took his old Datsun and drove directly West

        *Abandoned Datsun in Detrital Wash, Arizona after flash flood soaked the engine (26)

        *Left a note that read, "This piece of sh*t has been abandoned. Whoever can get it out of here can have it." (26)

(Chris's Actual Abandoned Datsun)

        *Also, Chris left the majority of his belongings in the car, including a guitar, a saucepan, $4.93 in change, a 25-pound bag of rice, 
         a new electric razor, and the keys to the car (26)

        *Park rangers jump started the car. It was claimed as police property and was used as an undercover cop car in drug busts (27)

August, 1990

        *Chris started going by the name of "Alex Supertramp" (18)

        *Alex began keeping a journal, documenting his travels. Oddly enough, it was written in a melodramatic third person perspective.

        *With no car and no money, Alex took a job working on the farm of a man who called himself Crazy Ernie (30) 

        *Crazy Ernie turned out to be a con artist. He had many other tramps "working" for him, and he didn't pay any of them (30)

        *As soon as Alex realized this, he stole a bicycle from Ernie and pedaled off (30)
        
        *In Northern California, Alex hitched a ride from Jan Burres (30)

        *Jan, a rubber tramp (a vagabond with a car), was around the age of Alex's mother, and took an instant liking towards him.
         She had a son who was out in the world somewhere, and Alex reminded her of her son a lot (31)

        *Alex grew very close to Jan in their short time together, and from then on out, he sent her postcards as often as possible (31)

September, 1990
 
        *Alex hitches a ride from Wayne Westerberg, in South Dakota. Wayne offers Alex a job, working at his grain elevator in Carthage,
         South Dakota (15)

        *Alex, in need of money, gratefully accepts. Wayne becomes Alex's closest friend (17)

    
(From left to right; Wayne, Alex, Wayne's Wife)


        *Wayne gets arrested, and Alex leaves for Mexico (19)

October, 1990

        *Alex successfully sneaks across the border in a cheap kayak (34)

        *He tried to paddle to the Gulf Coast, but the way is blocked by swamps (35)

        *Some Mexicans give him a ride to the Coast, and he spends a long time there,  exploring all of the water routes in the area (35)

        *After a particularly rough patch of water, Alex abandons his kayak and tries to return to America (36)

January, 1991

January, 16, 1991- Alex is caught by immigration police at the Tex-Mex border, and is held overnight. Once he explains to the police
                              what his situation was, they let him into America, but they confiscated his handgun


Travels Pt. 2 (May 1991-April 1992)

May, 1991

        *Alex arrives in Bullhead City, Arizona. (38)

        *Wanting a break from the road, he gets a trailer, and a job as a fry cook at a McDonald's. (39)

        *Co-workers found him very odd, but a great and diligent worker (40)

        *After many steady months, Alex sends his first postcard with a return address to Jan Burres (41)

        *Jan, very excited to hear that Alex has settled, makes plans to come visit him right away (41)

        *Alex has gotten "itchy feet" and gathers his belongings and intercepts Jan on her way to him (43)

December, 1991

        *Alex, along with Jan and her boyfriend Bob, head to the Slabs, a huge dilapidated navy air base that is a hub for tramps vagabonds
         and other dregs of society (43)

        *The Slabs serve as a home/flea market for hundreds of drifters (43)

        *Alex helped with Jan's stand, which mostly sold books (43)

        *Alex talked constantly about making his "Great Alaskan Odyssey" (45)

        *Tired of sitting around, Alex makes one last stop in Carthage, before heading off to Alaska (46)

January, 1992

        *En route to Carthage, then to Alaska, Alex set up camp outside Salton City, California. (48)

        * One day, when hitch-hiking into town for supplies, he was picked up by Ronald Franz, an eighty year old man (49)

        *Strangely enough, the pair instantly bonded, causing Alex to delay his trip into Alaska (50)

        *Franz, having no relatives of his own, treated Alex like a grandson (50)

        *He taught Alex some craftsmanship techniques, and Alex was able to fashion an elaborate belt and a scabbard for his machete (51)

February, 1992

        *Alex leaves Franz and heads towards San Diego (52)

March, 1992

        *Alex, after dabbling in being a "hobo" (a tramp who hops trains), calls Franz and asks to be picked up (53)

        *Franz picks up Alex and drives him as far as Grand Junction, Colorado (54)

        *Alex arrives three days later in Carthage, South Dakota, and resumes work for Wayne, now released from prison (58)

Great Alaskan Odyssey 

April, 1992

        *Alex makes his final preparations to leave for Alaska (69)

April, 25, 1992- After very difficult hitch hiking, Alex finally arrives in Fairbanks (70)

April 28, 1992- After hitching a ride from Jim Gallien, Alex arrives at his final destination, the Stampede Trail (3)

May, 1992

May 1, 1992- After crossing  the Teklanika River, knee deep at the time, Alex arrived at an abandoned bus sitting on the trail. His journal
                      entry for that date simply states, "Magic Bus Day!" (163)


May-June

        *Chris has six weeks of good hunting.

        *Tried to continue along Stampede Trail, but it proved to be impassable. Alex made the bus his base of operations. (165)

        *On June 9th, Alex shot and killed a moose. The moose was on the "small" side, weighing only 600 pounds (166)

        *Alex frantically tried to preserve the meat by smoking it, but after 3 days, all the meat was full of maggots. Alex remarked in his
         journal, "I now wish I had never shot the moose. One of the greatest tragedies of my life." (167)

        *After two months in Alaska, Alex decides to head back to civilization. But, to his horror, he finds the Teklanika River churning with
         rapids. It was swollen with melt water from glaciers. He deemed it impassable, and headed back to the bus. He figured he could 
         wait until the violent water calmed, then head home. (170)

 July-August

        *Alex survived the next few weeks by hunting squirrel, spruce grouse, jays, woodpeckers and frogs. (188)

        *Also ate many wild plants and vegetables (188)

        *Alex was very gaunt, but was able to survive day to day by continuous hunting. (188) 

        *Fragile lifestyle was shattered on July 30th. (189)

        *Alex had been eating wild potatoes since he arrived in the Alaskan bush without incident. But, in late July, the potato root became
         bitter and inedible, so Alex took to eating the seeds. Unbeknownst to Alex, the seeds coated themselves in alkaloid for protection
         from predators. The alkaloid prevented Alex from absorbing nourishment from food, causing his inevitable starvaion. (192,194)

        *Alex was took weak to get up to hunt, so he slowly starved in the bus. (195)

        *On August 12, Alex left a frantic note taped to the bus door (197)



August 18, 1992; Day 112

        *Alex dies, leaving behind one final note: "I have had a happy life and thank the Lord. Goodbye and may God bless all!" (199)

        *Only nineteen days later, six people coincidentally converged at the bus and discovered Chris McCandless  (11)






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