Wilderness For the Holidays

Posted by on Dec 24th, 2009 and filed under , , Outdoors , Travel . You can follow any responses to this entry through the . You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

The holidays are here, and by here I mean ‘the middle of nowhere’.   Or at least the middle of one extremely remote place in Alaska.

McCarthy, Alaska is the tiniest of towns located in the middle of the largest protected wilderness on earth.   There are less than 2 dozen people ‘home for the holidays’ in the McCarthy area, scattered around at various homesteads in a 20 mile radius inside 13 million acres of wilderness.

Imagine an historic ghost town in the middle of deep, snow covered wilderness, surrounded by major mountain ranges and glaciers.  During the summer, the town is busy with tourism.   By busy I mean there are about 100 people in our tiny town on any given day between mid May and mid September.   In the winter, however, the town goes from a population of ‘hundreds’ to a few dozen locals that stay through the winter.

The mill building in Kennicott.

Living a remote lifestyle gives you a rare feeling; a combination of natural connections to the land, uniqueness in daily choices you make about each resource, and the satisfaction of living your dream.  For most it takes years of dreaming before attempting to live off the grid in Alaska.   It takes a lot to live remotely in Alaska.  The result is a comfort and peace that is elusive in the 9 to 5 world.

Ma Johnson's Hotel in McCarthy.

Strange then, for me to decide for the first time in 10 years, to head out for a 9 to 5 ‘big city’ experience.  I am enjoying the last couple weeks in McCarthy before I head to Manhattan for a few months.  This is one of the only times in almost 10 years I have left McCarthy for more than a few days at a time.   An opportunity to work in NYC for a few months a year, doing something productive and in line with my own philosophy and in such an “opposite” setting, is exciting.  There was some guilt for a while, about leaving this town I have been intertwined with for the past decade, but it is only for 2.5 months.

At least I am home in McCarthy for the holidays now, and I know I will be back in McCarthy in time for the 2010 summer season!

Neil Darish is the owner of McCarthy Lodge, Ma Johnson’s Historic Hotel and Lancaster Backpackers Hotel in McCarthy, Alaska. McCarthy Lodge offers lodging and fine dining to guests from May to September. McCarthy is located in Wrangell St. Elias National Park .

HTML clipboard Neil Darish is the owner of McCarthy Lodge, Ma Johnson’s Historic Hotel and Lancaster Backpackers Hotel in McCarthy, Alaska. McCarthy Lodge offers lodging and fine dining to guests from May to September. McCarthy is located in Wrangell St. Elias National Park .
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