Grizzly Man

I just watched the documentary “Grizzly Man.” The story of Timothy Treadwell seemed very similar to the Jon Krakauer book “Into the Wild.” In that story (which is also true), Chris McCandless leaves his upper middle-class home in the suburbs to explore. He sees a bit of the southwest, canoes the Colorado River, goes to Mexico and Montana, and then decides that he really wants to see the wild and moves up to Alaska. He lives in the woods in an abandoned school bus for four months with only a bag of rice and his some of his favorite paperback books. Ultimately, he ends up getting stuck in the woods when his only path back to civilization is through a raging river (on his way out, the river had been a tiny stream). He ends up starving to death. Interestingly, Krakauer has access to a lot of the letters that Chris wrote to friends and family and to the diary he kept while in the woods. Below is one of my favorite quotes of Chris’ (but it’s important to keep in mind that he died not long after writing this).

  “So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one piece of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future.”

-In a letter to Ron Franz, April 1992, three months before dying in the Alaskan wilderness

I think McCandless’ story and Treadwell’s story have many parallels. They both wanted to fully return to the wild and to renounce all that civilization provides. Clearly, Treadwell was much more adept at surviving than McCandless, although he also had his supplies airlifted in every year and had what appeared to be top-of-the-line camping gear.

For me, the moral of these stories is that there is a reason that society has evolved the way that it has. I’ll admit that there are a lot of evils in modern society (pollution, weapons of mass destruction, etc.), but I do think that very few of us would survive for long without all of the amenities that we have.

Two other minor notes:

1) Here is a link to a pretty crazy video (not from the movie) showing a grizzly bear and a wolf encountering each other in the wild. That video is convincing enough for me that I don’t want to live in the wild with grizzlies. I don’t think I’d want to be raised by wolves for that matter either.

2) It was interesting that Treadwell “lived” with the grizzlies for 13 years and then was killed by one. I checked it out and 13 years is a decently long life for a grizzly. He truly wanted to be one, I think, and he probably would have been a OK one. Not an alpha male, or he would have lasted for 25 to 30 years, but still, 13 years is not bad.

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