7 September 2013

Glaciers and a ghost town

Stewart, BC & Hyder, AK

We had decided to take the Cassiar Highway instead of continuing on the Alaskan Highway just before Watson Lake. My original copy of the Mile Post had said it had 15% gravel roads, but my new copy said it was 100% paved, yay. We knew there were some long sections on the Alaskan Highway that had road works, with one being about 15 miles long, so we really wanted to avoid that if we could. We had also heard that there were bears down at Fish Creek in Stewart/Hyder, which was a big draw card for us. The Cassier is a lovely drive. The first 30km has permafrost and the forest hasn’t got over a wildfire that happened a few years ago, but it is still more interesting than the Alaskan Highway. On the second day we saw seven bears on the side of the road. We decided that we had come to the right place.

As soon as you turn off the Cassier to go to Stewart, you get to see one of the few blue glaciers in Canada right next to the road. Stewart (Canada) and Hyder (Alaska) are two towns right next to each other. Stewart has a population of 500, and Hyder has 100. Hyder is very run down and more like a ghost town that has no police station and no customs. The Canadians on the other hand have a customs stop which even the school bus has to pass through each day.

Bear Glacier
Fish Creek (on the Hyder side) attracts so many tourists that they built a huge walkway on stilts along the river so that people can watch the bears fishing. The best time of the year for this is mid-August, not mid September unfortunately, so there were no bears at all! A volunteer there said it was very unusual and the school of thought was that it had been a very good year for berries and the bears were eating them higher up in the mountains. Further along the road, an hour away is the Salmon Glacier. A formidable sight and well worth seeing. We would go to Fish Creek a couple of times a day to see what was happening or not happening as it turned out and therefore had to keep going through Customs, one time I forgot my tripod so we had to make an extra trip. Even after seeing you so many times a day they still look closely at your passport hoping to see something they didn’t catch before. One time we had to wind down our rear window so she could check what we had in the back seat as, apparently, they are worried about guns coming in from Hyder (via the sea I assume). 

Hyder, it's like a ghost town except that people do live there!

We took time out from waiting for bears to visit Salmon Glacier which is further up the road from Hyder but takes you back into Canada.

Salmon Glacier

One of the other photographers had told Lindsay that we would definitely see bull moose in Jasper at this time of year and as we haven’t seen one yet, decided that was worth a side trip.

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