Into the Wild

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
The Stampede Trail Symbol Icon
The Stampede Trail is a remnant of the Yutan Construction Company’s attempt to build a road in the wild, but construction halted before connecting bridges could be built. As the place where Chris’s journey ends, as well, the trail represents premature conclusions and failed attempts.

The Stampede Trail Quotes in Into the Wild

The Into the Wild quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Stampede Trail. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of Into the Wild published in 1997.
Chapter 18 Quotes


Related Characters: Chris McCandless (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Stampede Trail, Chris’s Books
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

This handwritten phrase is scrawled in the margins of one of Chris's books, Doctor Zhivago, which he reads in Alaska as he grows weaker and thinner, though still continuing his hunting and gathering. In a way, the phrase is consistent with Chris's general idealism: here, his conviction that truth and meaning are to be found in literature, and can be applied to real life as well. But in addition, the passage tragically suggests that Chris went through a belated epiphany, one that it was too late to act upon.

Throughout the book, Chris has been unwilling to grow too close to other people, wary of intimacy and instead embracing isolation and solitude as ensuring real happiness. Now – perhaps thanks to his reading, perhaps as a result of other thoughts during his time alone – Chris has come to realize that he must be open to sharing experiences with other people in order to achieve real happiness. Of course, it is impossible to know whether this was a complete epiphany, or whether it was simply a passing thought scrawled in a book, but we know that it at least occurred to Chris at some point during his time in the Alaska wilderness before he died, alone.


Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Into the Wild quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!


Related Characters: Chris McCandless (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Stampede Trail, Chris’s Journal, Potato Seeds
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

Thanks to Chris's journal, Krakauer is able to piece together, little by little, what Chris's last weeks and days were like – and perhaps to find a key to what caused his death. Here, a passage in Chris's journal provides a clue, as the tone suddenly shifts to one of desperation. We see quite clearly here how one small choice, one minor circumstance, can turn out to be a wild risk when alone and far from civilization. By citing Chris's journal verbatim, Krakauer makes it evident to us just how easily one can slip from safety into danger – and just how easily an idealistic journey can be compromised by lack of knowledge or expertise.

Get the entire Into the Wild LitChart as a printable PDF.
Into the wild.pdf.medium

The Stampede Trail Symbol Timeline in Into the Wild

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Stampede Trail appears in Into the Wild. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 - The Alaska Interior
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Risk and Self-Reinvention Theme Icon
Arrogance, Innocence, and Ignorance Theme Icon
...Gallien his “crude map” of the national park, pointing out his intended hiking route: the Stampede Trail . (full context)
Materialism and Idealism Theme Icon
Gallien drops “Alex” off on the edge of The Stampede Trail . Chris attempts to give Gallien his watch and loose change, but Gallien implores “Alex”... (full context)
Chapter 2 - The Stampede Trail
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
...1992, six people in three separate parties happen upon a refurbished city bus off the Stampede Trail in Denali National Park. Moose hunters, Ken Thompson, Gordon Samel and Ferdie Swanson ford the... (full context)
Chapter 16 - The Alaska Interior
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
On the Stampede Trail , McCandless crosses the unseasonably low Teklanika River waters and discovers the bus, where he... (full context)
The American Wilderness Theme Icon
Luck, Chance, and Circumstance Theme Icon
Isolation v. Intimacy Theme Icon
...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. (full context)