Jeremy Pataky sailed his 24-foot sloop up the Inside Passage from Bellingham, Washington, with his best friend back in 2002. The next spring, he moved sight unseen to southcentral Alaska and began exploring the state far and wide. Seventeen years later, it is home. It didn’t take long for Jeremy to find McCarthy and fall in love with the place. He worked in the Wrangell Mountains as a wilderness guide for a couple years before signing on to serve as executive director of the Wrangell Mountains Center for nearly five. It’s been almost a decade now since he bought his own land from descendants of McCarthy’s founder. He lives six months a year in a cabin he built there, migrating between the Wrangell Mountains and Anchorage. He’s a poet and writer, with a poetry collection called Overwinter out from University of Alaska Press, and essays and poems in numerous anthologies and literary journals. He also publishes and edits Edible Alaska, a quarterly local food magazine, with co-owner Amy O’Neill Houck—it’s widely available around the state or by subscription from ediblealaska.com.
Gear descriptions by Jeremy Pataky
My little Svord is my everyday knife, handy for everything from mushroom harvesting to camp chores to eating dinner. Compact, tough, very light, and easy to open with one hand, it’s fun to use and a pleasure to sharpen.
You are what you eat, we know, but what you eat from matters, too. I use a wooden birch bowl handmade by Tony Perelli of Perelli Wood & Clay Works in Eagle River, Alaska. It’s lightweight, tough, and aesthetically satisfying, as well as nontoxic, biodegradable, buoyant, and evocative of good times and friends. And if I get mauled by a bear or fall in a crevasse, the search and rescue folks will know I ate in style.
Copper River Dipnet
I love my trusty dipnet, which I picked up at B&J Sporting Goods in Anchorage. Made of a hoop and two blue poles, it breaks down for easy trail walking to my fishing holes. It’s the perfect tool for sieving my annual dose of Copper River reds from the river.
My favorite gloves for backcountry hiking and glacier travel in the Wrangell Mountains are cheap rubber-palmed gardening gloves. They take up no space, weigh nothing, and protect hands from abrasive ice, sharp rock, or hot pots. They’re also great protection for harvesting nettles or particularly thorny raspberries, or for doing work around the cabin.
I’m never in the field without one of these durable notebooks. Good-natured about rough handling and inclement conditions, they’re perfect for backcountry stories, tent dreams, recipe ideas, or wildcrafting notes.