Into the Wild is a non-fictional account of the wilderness survival and eventual death of Christopher McCandless, a teenager who left home to experience nature's grandeur. The survival of McCandless's journals and the accounts of those he met with on his travels paint a vivid picture of a determined young man wrestling with personal demons through travel. McCandless dies alone in the Alaskan wilderness at the conclusion of the novel.
An author devoted to Ruess’s story, Ken Sleight has his own theory that Ruess drowned in 1935 after tying up his donkeys in the Gulch and taking the Mormon trail out of the area. He was likely on his way to visit friends across the river and drowned in the crossing.
With yet one more comparison, Krakauer describes the secluded Papar monks of Ireland. These monks moved to Iceland in the 5th century until Norwegians arrived and they headed off for Greenland. Because they so fervently sought seclusion, many of them lost their lives in the harsh conditions of Greenland. He compares the lives and ideals of both Ruess and McCandless to that of these Irish monks, seeking some sort of Spiritual seclusion.