Teen Fan of Into the Wild Goes Missing in Oregon

Searchers look for Dustin Self

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 18, 2013 7:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Search parties are combing Oregon's Steens Mountain for any sign of Dustin Self, a 19-year-old from Oklahoma who disappeared a month ago—possibly intentionally. "He told us he was going to be gone for a few months, and he would be off the grid," Self's mother tells the Oregonian. "We don't know if we should be really worried or not." She adds that the teen is a big fan of Into the Wild, and had studied survival techniques—but had no real experience outside of family camping trips, reports the AP. She believes he was equipped with a cold-weather sleeping bag, boots, some food, and a knife. Still, "he is not a survivalist," says his father. "He is a very urban child."

Self was last heard from when he called his ex-girlfriend to tell her he was lost about a month ago; his GPS had apparently accidentally led him into the mountains while he was on his way to join a religious group. His father reported him missing, but there was no sign of him until Monday, when a rancher found his pickup truck abandoned on an unnamed mountain road. Now, teams are combing the mountain's snowy south side; or would be, if high winds hadn't temporarily halted the search. One ominous detail from his mom: The teen is a vegetarian, with no desire to kill animals to eat. "He thought he was going to eat berries. We tried to tell him, berries don't grow in wintertime."

The abandoned bus where Christopher McCandless starved to death in 1992 is seen in this March 21, 2006, photo on the Stampede Road near Healy, Alaska. The incident was made famous by "Into the Wild."   (AP Photo/ Jillian Rogers)
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