One August afternoon that summer, we drove to Stampede Road, left Muskeg where the pavement turns to dirt, and started walking toward the bus. A few miles in, we arrived at the Savage River, the first major waterway between the trailhead and Bus 142, and searched its shore for a good place to cross. A lanky French hiker, who turned out to be Etienne Gros, came bounding out of the woods. His lethal incident on the Teklanika with Ackermann had happened the year before; this year, he said, he had hoped to lead her sister and mother down the trail to show them where Claire had died. But the Savage’s heaving water was too strong for them to cross, so they turned back. Gros escorted the Ackermanns to a motel in town and then returned with a friend to build the memorial.
In 1976, Walt was offered a job with NASA as an antenna specialist so they moved to Virginia and his mother worked as a secretary at Hughes Aircraft. Later Walt and Billie started a consultancy firm which became very successful. But it seems working and living together affected their marriage resulting in arguements in front of Chris and Carine which cause them to distance themselves from their parents.
Chris was a good student with A average grades and he was also a good runner leading a team of cross country runners.
But, he was very stubborn and strong willed. He would train his cross country team mates hard taking them on practise runs in places where it was easy to get lost. But he saw it as a challenge and saw running as a form of spiritual exercise. An example of his stubbornness was receiving an F for one subject becuase he refused to write an article in the particular way that the teacher had asked.
He graduated from High School in 1986 and shortly after took off on an solo adventure for the summer arriving back 2 days before he was due to start college. He arrived at college scruffy compared to his well dressed room mate. His room mate dropped out several weeks later but Chris went on to get exellent grades. He graduated from Emory University in 1990 but saw titles and honors as immaterial and irrelevant. Later he would say that university is a 20th century fad and not something to aspire to.
Shortly after graduation, he gave the remaining money from his education fund to Oxfam. The cheque written by Chris on 15th May 1990, totalled $24000. He then left quietly from home to begin his adventures and assumed the name Alexander Supertramp of which he got from the book The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp by William H. Davies from 1908. When asked by someone where his family were, he would reply that he didn't have a family anymore.
He travelled through various states of America in his car (which he left after it was caught in a flash flood) and by train, hiking, canoeing and of course walking. The challenge to himself was to travel with the least amount of belongings as possible and as little money as possible. He had no map and no agenda, just the will to travel.
His dream was the Alaskan adventure and he would tell this to those he met along the way. Some people he worked for on odd jobs would try to convince him to stay and some would insist on giving him supplies to help with the journey.
He seldom accepted.
He reached his final destination on April 28, 1992 in Fairbanks Alaska.
Four months later he would perish from a combination of errors and his body was found in an abandoned old Fairbanks
City Transit Bus numbered 142 which was located on the Stampede Trail.
He kept a journal along the way and took self portraits now and then. His final self portrait was a picture of him holding a farewell note in his left hand and waving with his right hand. He was but 30kg in weight and eventually died of starvation and possibly poisoning from fungus on some fruit he had eaten.