The drive was along the Cassiar Highway (Hwy. 37), which connects the Yellowhead Highway with the famous Alaska Highway. This formerly gravel road has been dramatically improved in recent years. Today our travels were again smooth and scenic.
No, Frank was not drag racing. Frequent passing lanes and wide pull-outs have been convenient.
The decent into Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK provided us our first glacier stop. Bear Glacier, located along the Bear River Canyon, at one time reached the valley below where the road is today.
STEWART, BC and HYDER, AK
The small communities of Stewart (on the British Columbia side of the border) and adjacent Hyder, Alaska are located on the Portland Canal, a narrow saltwater fjord approximately 90 miles from the Pacific Ocean. According to the Milepost book, the Stewart deep harbor is Canada’s most northerly ice-free port. Besides having the Stewart Yacht Club, there was little commercial activity going on during our visit. For that matter, there was very little going on anywhere in the two towns. In Stewart, the Rainey Creek Municipal Campground in the middle of town had not opened for the season so we crossed the border and stayed at Camp Run-A-Muck.
Let’s just say we were not excited by our first impressions. They did offer 30 amp power and free WiFi (sort-of, kind-of, maybe) and gave a “senior discount”. Even though we had the ENTIRE campground to choose from, the guys scouted a couple of sites under the trees and away from the dirt roads. Low hanging tree branches made our afternoon set-up interesting. Frank used his tow strap to lasso the troublesome branches and successfully managed to clear the sites for our big rig. Ta-Dah…. and no bones were broken!
We have had many recommendations from Boomers on where to go, where to stay, and, especially on where to eat. Boomers like to eat! So, if this was Hyder, then it was off to “The Bus” for seafood dinner!
Meals are ordered at the door to the bus and then you can either eat at the outdoor tables or have your food delivered to a small inside dining room to the rear of the bus. Luke said his smoked salmon sandwich was great.
At dinner last night, we also met a second/third generation family who’s twin girls just graduated from high school. Dad worked in the mining business but the population here is dwindling fast. We learned that the schools have now been combined to include pre-school thru high school with a total enrollment of approximately 80 students. Mom was a school trustee and told us there were 8 students in the graduating class. Surprisingly, the local communities raised $40,000 for a graduation trip to Germany, Italy, and Switzerland over spring break. They didn’t spend all the money so with the left-over $9,000 they are planning a heck of a graduation seafood dinner!While the Church’s Alaska Camping book called Hyder “funky” with its graveled streets, we thought it was depressing. Even though we arrived after June 1, most of the businesses, including the Visitor’s Center, were closed and many of the houses were in disrepair.
We did stop in town for a grocery store ice cream and a stroll pass some of the local businesses. The Kings did find a “local” to like.
When we planned our route, we knew we would be in Hyder before the salmon spawning run up Fish Creek mid-July through early September. You don’t come to Hyder for the fish, but you come here to see the brown grizzly and black bears fish and compete for the salmon. Three miles from our campground is the Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area which features a parking area and a “protected boardwalk” from which the people are pinned in to watch the wildlife in the semi-wild area along the creek. We had heard there were mama and cub bears in the area, but today was not their day to satisfy the curiosity of the tourists. We were told by folks who arrived at the boardwalk right after us they had seen a bear on the road we had just used. Oh well… we will see more later in our trip.
SALMON GLACIER & GEOCACHING
Another recommendation for the area was to drive another 20 miles of dirt road to the Salmon Glacier Summit Road. We had packed picnic lunches but I made the group stop while I found my first Alaskan Geocache (GC1Y5R9 - Fish Creek ... View the Bears)
It was then off through the light rain, fog, clouds, and snow banks until we reached the summit overlook (and welcomed outhouses).
From the summit we were able to look back down across the top of the Salmon Glacier. The photos do not reflect the blue ice fields and the turquoise lakes we saw from the top and along the road when we stopped again to view the “toe” of the glacier.Despite the weather, the drive was fun and the many waterfalls we saw were also spectacular.
As mentioned above, we did not see any bears during our bear viewing drive, but we did see a marmot.
Yesterday we saw a large brown bear along the road (no pix). Frank and Gloria King, however, did see one and caught a snap shot before it disappeared into the brush.
NEXT: Dease Lake and Wildfires