'Into The Wild' Bus Claims Another Life

Belarusian hiker drowns en route to landmark near Denali National Park.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

A second hiker has died attempting to reach the “Magic Bus,” an abandoned city bus made famous by Christopher McCandless of Into the Wild.

Veramika Nikanava and husband Piotr Markielau, of Belarus, were attempting to ford the Teklanika River on their way to the bus last Thursday when Nikanava lost her footing and was swept away by the current, Alaska State Trooper spokesperson Ken Marsh said in a statement. Markielau told authorities that he managed to pull his wife from the river about 75 to 100 feet downstream, but she had already passed away. Just before midnight, he managed to reach emergency dispatchers, who sent a trooper and volunteers from the Tri-Valley Fire Department to retrieve the body.

In 1992, Christopher McCandless spent 118 days living in the bus after hiking into the wilderness on the Stampede Trail with the intention of living off the land, only to die there after the swollen Teklanika blocked him from returning the way he had come. After John Krakauer told McCandless’s story, first in an article for Outside and later in the best-selling book Into the Wild, the bus became a popular pilgrimage for tourists. 

Not all of those hikers have had the equipment or experience to make the trip safely. According to the Alaska State Troopers, search and rescue personnel responded to 15 calls involving the bus between 2009 and 2017. One, a 29-year-old Swiss visitor, died while crossing the river in 2010.

The investigation into Nikanava’s death is ongoing.

“Hikers rafters and others are encouraged to enjoy Alaska’s outdoors and to come prepared for the challenging weather, water, and geographical conditions,” Marsh said.

Trending on Backpacker