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The McCandless Mecca


The McCandless bus has become a pilgrimage destination for thousands. In the summer of 2011, I set out to visit the bus and capture the story.

"The Stampede Trail has become a passageway on which hikers and hunters, seekers and sportsmen, Speedoed mountain bikers and North Slope militiamen cross paths. The Magic Bus is becoming a national shrine, a holy pilgrim site, a modern-day Mecca. And I was determined to see it, too." So writes Ken Ilgunas, who, in the summer of 2011, moved up to Alaska to, like thousands before him, embark on a pilgrimage to explore the storied bus of the Stampede Trail-the very bus in which Chris McCandless of Into the Wild died twenty years before. What was supposed to be little more than a "literary tour" of a book that Ilgunas had "merely enjoyed," would become a humorous, thought-provoking, and, at times, treacherous journey to the very heart of Alaska.

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