Ten months after receiving the news of their son Chris's death, Billie and Walt McCandless visit the place where he met his end. At first their plan was to have had Butch Killian drive them in on his all-terrain vehicle, but at the last minute, Killian calls to tell them that the Teklanika River, the same river that Chris had been finally unable to cross, was running "too high...to cross safely". Billie and Walt arrange to go in by helicopter instead, and were able to cover in "fifteen minutes...the distance it took Chris four days to walk". Walt is "distracted, irritable, (and) edgy" at the prospect of this return, while Billie feels "calm and centered and has been looking forward to this trip for some time".
When they arrive at the bus, Billie and Walt spend time exploring the area in and around where their son died. Billie sits on the mattress where Chris's body was found, and thinks "He must have been very brave...at the end, not to do himself in". Walt, after a time, admits that he is glad they came, and that he is "a little less baffled" about what drove his son to do what he did. Billie leaves a suitcase stocked with supplies in the bus for anyone who might happen to need it. Although "the fact that Chris is gone is a sharp hurt (she will) feel every single day", she is glad she came...and finds it "comforting to know Chris was (there)" (Epilogue).