Out of the Wild

Watch: Bus made famous by "Into the Wild" removed from Alaskan wilderness via helicopter

The Alaska Army National Guard removed "Bus 142" from the wilderness this week.

Alaska Army National Guard courtesy video by UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief, Staff Sgt. Sonny Cooper

The bus made famous by Jon Krakauer's nonfiction book, "Into the Wild", and the 2007 movie of the same name was removed from the Alaskan wilderness this week via helicopter.

On Thursday, Alaska Army National Guard soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 207th Aviation Regiment, executed an extraction mission to remove "Bus 142" from its position on the Stampede Trail using a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

"Bus 142" is a 1946 International Harvester K-5 that was parked near Denali National Park. The K-5 had a steel chassis and 9,300-pound payload capacity when new. "Bus 142" was originally owned by the Yutan Construction Company and was used to transport construction crews from Fairbanks to the Stampede Trail during a road upgrades project in 1960 and 1961.

Over the years, the bus's engine was removed and it was towed using two Caterpillar D8 bulldozers but eventually gained a broken axle. Crews installed a wood-burning stove and beds, using it for shelter. Later in its life, the K-5 became a shelter for trappers and hunters.

After graduating from Emory University in 1990, Chris McCandless had become a wanderer. In April 1992 he began a histhchiking journey in South Dakota that would lead him to Alaska. In May he set up camp at "Bus 142" where he stayed for two months before attempting to find a way out of the wilderness. He was unable to do so and returned to the K-5.

The journal that McCandless kept during his travels became source material for "Into the Wild". The journal chronicles 112 days of entires with the last week's worth describing how McCandless is weak, hungry, and in need of assistance.

Into the Wild movie poster"Into the Wild" featured an image of the bus in its poster, which was distributed to movie theaters nationwide.Movie poster courtesy of Paramount Vantage

In September 1992, McCandless was found dead in this sleeping bag by a group of hunters who sought refuge in the bus during an excision.

The 1996 non-fiction book is an expanded form of the 9,000-word article Krakauer wrote about the journey of McCandless titled "Death of an Innocent", which appeared in "Outside" magazine in January 1993.

After the publication of the article and novel, and especially after the release of the movie, the bus became a tourist attraction. Its location along the Stampede Trail in the Denali Borough of Alaska, near Healy, had been the site of numerous emergency rescues over the years.

The over 47-mile trail began as a mining road in 1903 and for years was commonly used for winter sports recreation. Some of the first eight miles is paved or gravel road but then the trail descends into pathways only reachable by foot or ATV.

The bus will be stored at a secure site with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources considers options for its permanent resting place.

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VW purchased the rights to the iconic Scout name and plans to make new EVs under the brand.

Volkswagen

Automakers bring back names and brands from the past all the time, but it's not every day that a major company purchases a brand name specifically for the purpose of reviving it. That's exactly what Volkswagen just did with Scout, the name of an ultra-popular off-road SUV that was built by International Harvester in the 1960s and 1970s.

As for the types of vehicles we'll see from the brand, we currently only have the renders to go on. The pickup truck and SUV both feature throwback styling that is reminiscent of the original Scout shapes. Beefy off-road tires and lifted suspension are the only other clues available in the drawings.

Volkswagen has its own EVs, and its other brands like Audi and Porsche have made significant progress with electric vehicles as well. That said, VW doesn't really have a solid off-road option from any of its brands at the moment, so the Scout purchase opens doors for the automaker in that arena.

The announcement sounds exciting, but we've still got plenty of time to wait before there's a Scout-branded EV on the roads. Volkswagen said the plan is to release vehicles by 2026, but it won't be sitting idle between now and then. The VW ID.4 is still very fresh and the automaker says it will launch a total of 25 new EVs in the U.S. by 2030.

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Interesting backstory

Volkswagen Bus part inspired popular dog toy

The classic VW Bus inspired one of the most popular dog toys of all time.

Volkswagen

Product designs sometimes take inspiration from the places we expect the least. Moments of genius are driven by finding solutions to unique problems, and as it turns out, that's exactly how we ended up with KONG. The beefy, durable dog chew toy is modeled after a Volkswagen Bus part.

Joe Markham's shopMarkham needed a dog for security, but he unexpectedly got a chew-crazy pet.Volkswagen

KONG's inventor, Joe Markham, adopted a German Shepherd to help with security at his auto repair shop in downtown Denver, CO. The dog, while a great addition to the shop, came with a few bad habits. The dog's most worrisome hobby was chewing, which he would do with almost anything he could find, especially rocks. As you might imagine, chewing on rocks is not good for the dog's teeth. Markham needed a durable chew toy, but nothing seemed to work, from animal bones to radiator hoses.

The solution came from an unlikely place: While working on a 1960sVW Type 2 Bus, Markham discovered that the rubber axle stop made a perfect chew toy. The dog had gotten ahold of the rubber stop, and while he was chewing viciously, neither the stop nor his teeth were damaged.

The discovery led Markham to spend the next six years experimenting with various rubbers, sizes, and shapes for his dog toy. After working with rubber experts in Germany, the design was finalized and the KONG was born. The shape for the toy ended up being very close to that of the axle stop. The funky, bulbous design meant that the toy wouldn't bounce like a ball, and would instead flop around randomly, which is similar to the way that small animals run away from predators.

VW Bus axle stopThe axle stop from a VW Bus inspired KONG's shape.Volkswagen

It's worth noting that you should not intentionally let your dog chew on any part of your vehicle. Even unused automotive parts can contain chemicals and other harmful materials that could make your dog sick or worse. This isn't a pitch to buy a KONG, just a warning about the hazards of car parts being used as dog toys.

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