I think what get me most about the McCandless story is ignoring the possibility of mental illness ...
Everyone loves to play doctor, but few are qualified. Abandon your family for no reason.
Abandon your family for no reason (for the weekend, but you wish it could be months or more; right Mr. Skurka
... to head out in the wilderness.Ditch your car in the desert.
Ditch your car at a deserted trail head.Burn or bury your money for reasons unclear.
Burn your money on silly unreasonable gear (UV water light?!). Stop bathing because it's too much trouble.
(sic)There are people just like McCandless living on the streets of Anchorage today.
There are people just like McCandless hiking and summering in the mountains of Colorado today.
... some of who are stranded by rising rivers like he was.
Neither of these meet the "sensibilities" of most "normal" people who then falsely define that lack of meeting (their mentality) an absence of sense and therefor a mental defect. People judging someone going for SUL (survival UL, not much different than our hunter-gatherer ancestors) while they themselves find Class 3-5 unnerving (or chide me on the dangers of motorcycling as they puff on a cigarette).
If one added that he was working on his anthropology doctrate many would likely change stance, not because McCandless's actions were any different, but because it made more sense to the reader.
Let he cast the first stone who hasn't been told their pursuit is a deathwish by family or stranger.