Alaska News

Two hikers who hoped to complete a trek to the Chris McCandless bus ended up being rescued

Two hikers who trekked their way to the abandoned bus made infamous by Chris McCandless, and then failed to make it back from their planned trip on time, were located safe and unhurt following air and ground searches, according to the National Park Service.

On Saturday, search efforts began to find Michael Trigg, 25, of Lexington, South Carolina, and Theodore "Ted" Aslund, 27, of Atlanta, Georgia. Based on Facebook posts, the men planned a dayslong trip along the west side of Teklanika River.

Their destination was an abandoned Fairbanks Transit bus. It's parked on a clearing along Stampede Trail, near Denali National Park and Preserve but located on state land. In 1993, McCandless, 24, ventured off the Parks Highway with meager supplies and never returned. He died at his makeshift shelter inside the bus.

The young man's death was popularized by the 1996 Jon Krakauer book "Into the Wild," and further catapulted to legendary status with a 2007 movie of the same name. As a result, multiple unprepared adventurers try to reach the bus every  year, only to end up needing rescuing.

[Read more: Missing in Alaska without a trace]

Trigg and Aslund were expected to return from the trip by Friday, and posts to Facebook asked friends to call in searchers if they weren't heard from by that day. As instructed, concerned friends contacted Park Service rangers.

The Park Service said the men described themselves as "experienced  backcountry hikers."


The men's planned route took them along the west side of the Teklanika, as planned, in an effort to avoid crossing the waterway. That's how they reached the bus, but plans changed as they made their way away from the secluded landmark.

"They were running late on their itinerary and decided to try a shortcut. Attempting to cross the river on the Stampede Trail, they were forced to turn back after being nearly swept downstream by the chest-deep current," the Park Service said. "The Teklanika can be a dangerous river to cross and has claimed lives in the past."

Alaska State Troopers were initially contacted to locate the men but the majority of the search area was located in Denali, so park rangers took the reins on the search. The teams cast about in the steep, brushy terrain of Teklanika and Sushana rivers, as well as their tributaries.

"Clues found by the search team included a note left at the bus and boot prints which belonged to the subjects along their presumed route," the Park Service said.

The men were found around 3 p.m. Sunday. The Park Service noted the men brought extra provisions but weren't carrying a satellite phone or a location device.

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.