On the Road Adventures

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

August 30 - Hyder, Alaska

As we got farther south, the road got better and better. It’s still a 2 lane country road, but smoother and newly paved. The landscape changed with the latitude also. The trees are much bigger and instead of black spruce and aspen, we’re surrounded with Sitka spruce, white spruce, furs and cedars, with a dense thicket of willow and other shrubs underfoot, making a dense jungle on either side of the road. The wild flowers are more common here, with ox eye daisies, red clumpy flowers and lots of various yellow ones blooming along the road. There is fireweed here, and it tends to be in various stages, some still with blooms at the top, some the salmon colored stalks that once bore the blooms, and some turning white. All three stages can be present in any given bunch of fireweed. The ones that have feathered out are releasing their seeds in a snow-cloud of white floaty bits. Fortunately, I don’t seem to be allergic to them.

The road down to Stewart and Hyder is lovely. It reminds us of Switzerland, with narrow valleys hemmed in on both sides with sheer mountain walls and plenty of “avalanche zone ended” signs. We never for some reason see the “avalanche zone begins” signs.

We chose to go across the border between Stewart in British Columbia and Hyder in Alaska to camp at Hyder. We both immediately thought of “Northern Exposure” when we drove into Hyder. Dirt roads and lots of boarded up buildings.

We checked in to Camp Run-Amok and the guy running it told us to get level and head up the road to the Salmon Glacier because it wasn’t raining. Apparently that state can change in a matter of minutes, and rain seems to be the normal state of affairs. Since we’d skipped lunch we decided to eat at The Bus first. It really is a bus that’s been converted to a kitchen. The cook’s husband goes out and catches the fish each day and she cooks it up. Ger had grilled halibut and I had the salmon. Delicious, and the price was half what we’d paid elsewhere for meals that weren’t nearly as good. While we were eating the people at the next table started talking to us.

“Have you been to the glacier today?” We said that we hadn’t yet.
“You have to go. The sun’s shining!” We assured them we would go there. Then as we were leaving, some other people who had just come up to The Bus stopped us and told us that we needed to go see the glacier. We decided we weren’t brave enough to not go see the glacier so we caved in to the pressure and drove the 21 miles up the dirt road to see the glacier.

It was a lovely drive, with waterfalls every hundred feet or so up the whole route, and beautiful vistas. I have to admit I didn’t hold out a lot of interest in the glacier. I mean, we’ve seen glaciers. But when we got to this one, it was yet another of those “oh, wow!” experiences. We were high above the top of the glacier looking down on it, and while we have seen many glacier faces, it was a totally different experience to see the great, white river of ice below us, and see the way the ice was moving down the mountain. We were glad we had done as instructed and gone to see the glacier.

We stopped at Fish Creek on our way back to the RV park. There is a boardwalk next to a stream where grizzly bears frequently come to fish for the salmon spawning there. Shortly after we arrived two four-year-old twins showed up and started fishing. It was late enough though that pictures didn’t come out very well. We’ll come back here tomorrow.

No comments: