Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sat, Sept 19: On the Cassiar Highway heading to Stewart, British Columbia, Canada

It rained all night again, but this morning the clouds have lifted. It looks like it might clear off. We are moving by 9AM. It really makes a difference when we don’t unhook the night before. We left home two months ago today. We commented last night that to be a small rig and not rated for long trips, the rig is living very well even with the rain that comes with the Northwest.

The road is good today for the most part. There is one gravel section down to a river crossing and back up the other side. Again there is almost no traffic
and the scenery is really nice. We cross Gnat Pass today, the dividing line between the Arctic and Pacific drainage systems. I guess we are officially out of the Arctic country now. We drive through pretty river valleys between snow capped mountains most of the day. At one point we have a nice black bear sighting. He is beside the road eating berries so we stop and watch for a few minutes.We also stop at one of the two gas stations we see on this two hundred fifty mile plus day to top off the tank.About 2PM we reach our turn to the coast. It is about 40 miles down to Stewart, British Columbia and Hyder, Alaska on the coast at the head of the Portland Canal. Stewart and Hyder developed because of mining in the area in the early 1900's. The road is known as the Glacier Highway. It goes over Bear Pass and by Bear Glacier. Bear Glacier calves into a lake that is right beside the road. The are about 20 glaciers visible from the highway up in the mountains. It is another stunning drive. We see another black bear and a beautiful grey wolf on the road.
Once in Stewart, we get set up in the Bear River Campground. The campground doesn’t allow tent camping and soft sided campers due to an active bear threat. They also advise you not to get out of your motorhome after dark!

It is time now for us to pursue the main attractions in the area. We head across the border to Hyder, Alaska to do the self guiding auto tour to Salmon Glacier. Hyder is almost a ghost town now, but at one time it was an active mining town. The drive to Salmon Glacier, 20 miles away, mostly follows the Salmon River and passes by several old mines. The road also takes us back across into Canada, but there is no passport control at this crossing! The road is gravel and steep in places, but is worth the effort. It is late by the time we get to the toe of the glacier.We are just above it. The road runs on the mountainside right by the glacier. It actual goes on several miles farther to the summit of the glacier, but the clouds are settling down on us and we have no desire to drive in dense clouds/fog on the side of a glacier!

We head back down the mountains to Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing area. The Forest Service has built a viewing platform along the creek. Chum and pink salmon spawn in the creek from July to September. The salmon run attracts the grizzly and the black bear. We get out on the raised walkway just as a grizzly enters the creek from the other side. We spend 30 or 45 minutes watching her walk up and down the creek catching and eating several big salmon! It is really neat! We are so close to her, less than 10 feet as times!We are in the cage and she is free to do her thing. There is a ranger there, but all he has is a can of bear spray.

It is nearly dark, we are getting cold and hungry so we head back to the rig and have dinner and has been a fun, busy day.

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