Alaska Basecamp Tours
Camping or Backpacking? What's the difference?
As a general rule, these camping trips are not roadside camping trips. We fly in to some pretty remote wilderness areas and camp and hike or packraft, etc.
Backpacking trips involve packing up camp every day (or so) and moving, hauling all your gear on your back. It’s challenging but rewarding.
Camping trips mean we’ll set up a base somewhere fun and hike during the day with just a small day pack for snacks, a jacket, etc. It can still be a challenge, depending how hard you want to hike.
We’ll fly from McCarthy in to our chosen landing trips, unload the plane, say goodbye to the pilot and setup camp.
Dayhiking (or day hiking and packrafting) is the way to get around, see the landscape and visit the wild.
At the end of the trip, break down camp, meet our air taxi and fly back to McCarthy.
What about accommodation in McCarthy?
Typically Expeditions Alaska will include that for you. If you’re on your own schedule and would rather handle those logistics yourself, let me know and we’ll work out the pricing structure accordingly.
Flexibility is the name of the game here.
Can we book a basecamp trip if we don’t own any camping gear?
You sure can.
Fully outfitting your trip is a small additional fee. The exact amount will depend on your trip length, as well as what stuff you need.
For single individual items, contact me and we’ll see what you need and work that out.
A tent (1, 2 or 3 person) is $50.00 per person for the trip. If you just want us to handle food and you have all your own gear (tent, etc) we can do that as well.
Longer trips (5+ days) the food costs go up. But most basecamps are not longer.
We doprovide sleeping bags or sleeping pads or backpacks (except for the scheduled photo tours we include sleeping pad).
Information about McCarthy
McCarthy, AK is such a cool place. You’ll love it.
Typically we’ll stay across the river from the small town of McCarthy in a small cabin or lodge. The lodge backs against Kennicott Glacier. The awesome Stairway Icefall sits just beyond. A 7000′ vertical wall of ice.
So beyond the astonishing mountain views, McCarthy is a small rustic town in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Originally a feeder town to the nearby Kennicott Copper Mines, McCarthy is now the hub of the park.
It’s a short 1/2 mile walk into town from Brad’s Lodge (Kennicott Glacier Cabins). We walk because the public bridge across the Kennicott River is a small bridge for foot traffic only. The vehicle will stay on the lodge side of the river.
A 10 minute walk will pretty much cover the entire town. There are a couple of small air taxi services, a hotel and hostel, a bar/restaurant, a souvenir store and another newer eatery/bar called the Potato. Good food, fun folks, and a wonderful charming environment.
A 5 mile jaunt up the road from McCarthy is Kennicott (there is a shuttle service available and included to get us up and back; or walk the wagon trail). In Kennicott you’re free to wander the town and look at the historic mill building (schedules private tours available), poke your head in the door of the various establishments (guide services, restaurant/lodge, stores, the National Park Service Visitor Center, etc).
Just remember a lot of the buildings ARE private residences so don’t intrude.
A couple of hiking trails out of Kennicott can take you out to the Kennicott Glacier or up to the old mines (Bonanza, Jumbo and Erie).
An afternoon in Kennicott is a ton of fun and a great way to wind down after your backcountry expedition.
Backpacking Gear Check List
Here’s a very simple gear check list. Email me if you have any specific gear/food questions. Try not to overpack but don’t short change yourself on essential items like raingear, tent, backpack, boots, sleeping bag, etc. Temperatures can be below freezing with rainy and even snowy weather.
Once we leave Anchorage (or Fairbanks), there are usually NO options for purchasing gear, supplies, food, etc. Anchorage has a great REI and several other gear stores, groceries, etc. The best option is to bring as much as you can with and only use Anchorage for forgotten and last minute items.
Expeditions Alaska will supply bear resistant food canisters, fuel (white gas/coleman fuel, or isobutane mix) and water filter system, First Aid Kit and maps. I highly recommend bringing your own “boo boo kit” – a basic first aid supplies, like sunscreen, blister kit, bandaids, ibuprofen/aleve, etc). We can, if you need, provide tents and food as well. Let me know if you have any specific gear requirements. We’re always glad to work to accommodate them.
I also recommend you see this post for my gear list for more information.
Tent, w/ groundcloth
Sleeping Bag (20degF min)
Backpack – w/ rain cover
Trekking poles – (Provided if necessary, highly recommended*)
Plastic garbage bags
Stove (check with Carl)
Cook set (check with Carl)
Fuel bottle (check with Carl)
A couple of gallon sized zip lock bags
Flashlight/headlamp (if before mid-Aug)
Long underwear (wicking, top & bottom)
Long sleeve nylon shirt
Additional thermal layer
Rain shell – Pants and Jacket
Wool or fleece gloves
Hat – Cap and 1 Fleece
Wool socks & liners
Head Net/mosquito Repellent
Toiletry items – Toothbrush, toothpaste, Floss,
Biodegradable soap, etc
Blister stuff (mole foam second skin, etc)
Small bath towel (2′ long)
Camera & Film/memory cards
20˚F, or lower, sleeping bag
Waterproof-breathable rain jacket and pants
Pack rain cover
Fleece jacket (min. 200 wt) or (even better) down/synthetic fill jacket
Trash bag as rain gear or pack cover
Flip flops for river shoes
35˚F or higher rated sleeping bag
What’s A Fully Outfitted Trip Involve?
That is trip dependent.
For backpacking trips, a fully outfitted option includes your tent (one or two person tent), all your kitchenware, food and cooking by Expeditions Alaska. A typical trip, up to 12 days long, costs an additional $450.00 per person for the fully outfitted option ($350 for 4 day trips or shorter).
Available “á la carte” options are (per person)
Food/cooking $325.00 (up to 4 day trip duration)
Food/cooking $425 (any trip 5 days or longer)
For personal items such as a backpack, or sleeping pad, talk to me prior to your trip and we’ll see if we can possibly arrange something. If you need a pack I recommend you rent a backpack from a reputable local outfitter. They can find and fit a pack to you rather than “making do” with one of mine that may or may not be a good fit for you.
Items such as BRFC, bear spray, fuel, hiking poles are included gratis with Expeditions Alaska trips. See What’s Included? for more info.
I Have More Questions
I know you do. I do as well.
I recommend starting with the General Trip FAQ page
Upon your reservation I’ll also send out a comprehensive trip information packet that covers just about everything and more you might imagine about your trip.