Allure of 'Magic Bus' Causes Emergency for 5 Tourists

5 Italian hikers rescued near site made famous by 'Into the Wild'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2020 8:21 AM CST
After Trek to the 'Magic Bus,' a Call for Help
This March 21, 2006, file photo shows the abandoned bus where Christopher McCandless starved to death in 1992 near Healy, Alaska.   (AP Photo/Jillian Rogers, File)

Five tourists are lucky to be alive after trying to make a frigid trek to an Alaskan site made famous by Into the Wild. Tri-Valley Fire Chief Brad Randall tells the Anchorage Daily News that Alaska State Troopers and members of the Tri-Valley Fire Department responded on snowmobile to an area about 13 miles in from the Stampede Trail after receiving a medical emergency alert around 8am Saturday. The stranded hikers—who used a satellite-based emergency device to call for help, AST rep Tim DeSpain tells NBC News—were coming back from the "Magic Bus," where Christopher McCandless, the subject of Jon Krakauer's 1996 book and the 2007 movie, died in 1992. DeSpain says one hiker was brought to Fairbanks for treatment of extreme frostbite to his feet, though his injuries weren't life threatening; the other hikers were picked up by friends.

Randall tells ADN it's believed the hikers were stranded overnight, and he notes that temps were registering as low as 5 degrees Saturday morning. This case is the latest in a slew of incidents in which tourists fascinated with the Into the Wild story have tried to make the 20-mile trail trek to the bus. CNN notes many end up stranded and have to be rescued, and some have even perished in the attempt, especially when trying to cross the Teklanika River. Victims' families are among those pushing for a study to see if a footbridge over the river makes sense, though Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker tells NBC that a bridge may just lure more people to visit the bus, which he thinks should be removed. "The fact that the bus is there raises that attraction level," Walker says. (Just last summer, a newlywed died trying to cross the river.)

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