A 24-year-old woman died Thursday while trying to cross a treacherous Alaska river on her way back from an abandoned bus where Christopher McCandless, the subject of the book and movie “Into the Wild,” starved to death in 1992.
Veranika Nikanava of Belarus was wading through the waist-high water of the Teklanika River near Denali National Park with husband Piotr Markielau when she lost her grip on a rope she was using to steady herself, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The river had been moving especially fast because of recent rainfall.
State troopers said Markielau discovered his wife’s body roughly 75 to 100 feet downriver and reported her death to authorities. The couple had recently married.
According to local radio station KTNA, the Tri-Valley Fire Department and a state trooper arrived on the scene with ATVs and retrieved Nikanava’s body. It has been sent for an autopsy and an investigation is ongoing.
Markielau told HuffPost in an email that he and Nikanava spend two nights at the site of the bus and scratched their names inside.
Nikanava was a filmmaker who had studied at New York Film Academy and recently released “Generation 328,” a documentary about Mothers 328, a Belarus-based activist movement by the families of low-level drug offenders to get their loved ones released from prison.
Following the 1996 publication of Jon Krakauer’s book and the 2007 release of the film based on it, numerous hikers have attempted to retrace the steps of McCandless, whose body was found about 19 days after he died while trying to survive alone in the wilderness.
Like Nikanava, a Swiss hiker drowned in 2010 while crossing the Teklanika River to find the so-called Magic Bus.
In 2013, three German hikers en route to the bus on the Stampede Trail about 10 miles from Denali National Park had to be rescued upon realizing the river they crossed to get there had become impassable due to fast-moving high water, leaving them stranded.
In 2016, Lynn Macaloon, the park’s acting public information officer, told Vice that she estimated several rescues are required on the trail each year.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Nikanava died on her way to the bus. Her husband, who contacted HuffPost, said she died on her way back. The spelling of her first and last name has also been corrected.