Krakauer accompanies Walt and Billie in a helicopter to the site of Chris’ death. They originally intend to travel overland on The Stampede Trail, but the Teklanika’s waters are too high for safe crossing.
Like their son’s venture into the wilderness, Walt and Billie’s visit is also a pilgrimage and is subject to nature’s same volatile circumstances.
At the site, Walt and Billie inspect the bus and assemble a memorial to Chris inside the its door with flowers, a plaque, a survival kit and a note urging whoever comes here to call their parents.
By memorializing the site, Walt and Billie create a sanctuary for Chris’s spirit to rest, but also transform the bus into a warning sign against nature and the wild ways of youth.
Though comforted by the surrounding landscape’s beauty, Walt and Billie leave with Krakauer in the helicopter, still nursing heavy hearts.
Though Chris found solace in the wild, it is a poor salve for his parents’ heartache, underlining nature as both a place of pain and promise, and familial love as something that pushed Chris away but would also have welcomed him home.