DENALI NATIONAL PARK, Alaska — A 24-year-old woman from Belarus died on Alaska’s Stampede Trail while attempting to visit an abandoned bus made famous by the book and film “Into the Wild.”
Veramika Maikamava and her husband, Piotr Markielau, wanted to reach Fairbanks Bus 142, where “Into the Wild” subject Christopher McCandless died in 1992, Alaska State Trooper spokesperson Ken Marsh told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
Markielau called state troopers in Fairbanks on Thursday night to report that his wife had died, according to a news release from the Alaska State Troopers.
The newlywed couple attempted to cross the Teklanika River, which was running high and fast due to recent rains, when Maikamava was swept under the water, the agency said. Markielau told state troopers that by the time he was able to pull his wife out of the water about 75 to 100 feet downstream, she was already dead.
A trooper responded at the scene with volunteers from the Tri-Valley Fire Department, the Alaska State Troopers said. Maikamava’s body was sent to the state medical examiner, and an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Writer Jon Krakauer first chronicled McCandless’ journey in a 1993 magazine article for Outside and later expanded on it in his book “Into the Wild” in 1996. McCandless grew up in an affluent Washington, DC, suburb and upon graduating from Emory University in 1990, left behind his sheltered life and headed west without telling friends and family members.
In April 1992, McCandless hitchhiked to Alaska where a man dropped him off at the head of the Stampede Trail, Krakauer wrote in the book. A few days later, he stumbled upon an abandoned bus and lived there for about three months before he decided to head back to civilization at the beginning of July.
McCandless arrived at a crossing of the Teklanika River a couple days later, but the river was running fast and high from the rain and snowmelt from glaciers, according to Krakauer. Unable to make his way across, McCandless turned around and headed back toward the bus. He survived for about a month more before he died in August 1992.
Since the publication of Krakauer’s book and the release of the 2007 movie by the same name, hikers from all over the world have trekked out to the Alaskan wilderness to retrace McCandless’ last steps.
In 2010, a Swiss hiker drowned while trying to cross the Teklanika River, less than a mile from the bus where McCandless lived. Every year, several people are rescued from the Stampede Trail, Lynn Macaloon, the acting public information officer for Denali National Park and Preserve, told VICE in 2016.