Power, Toilets, and Bears

When we first arrived in McCarthy, we got the run-down of how things work from the super knowledgeable and helpful Wrangell Mountains Center staff, which included rules and safety. If you want to visit or live in McCarthy, here’s what you have to know. As we were told, it’s about “power and toilets and bears.”

We are off the grid, so power only comes from solar panels and generators. Charge your phone, computer, camera only in daytime, and preferably only when it’s sunny. Electricity is expensive.

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A McCarthy home, with solar panel

Meals are in the old hardware store, thanks to the Wrangell Mountains Center. They are prepared for us, served buffet-style, and are always yummy, and then we all wash our own dishes. Everyone conributes.

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Yummy meals and good company in the old hardware store…

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…or outside the hardware store

Instructors are staying in the 6 room backpacker’s hotel, while students are camping. For campers, there is an outdoor toilet and shower, and hot water comes on request from “Ernestine the Hot Water Tank.”

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The backpackers’ hotel…

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…and the outdoor shower

As for bears, if you go out for a walk on your own, be sure to “make noise and say ‘hey bear,’” so bears know you’re there. And never keep food in your tent. All good pointers. I don’t have a picture of a bear yet. I really want one, but I guess I should be careful what I wish for…

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