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Published: September 25th 2009
At the start of the Stewart-Cassier Highway there is a sign that says 'south to Alaska'. This just seems wrong you don't go south to Alaska, Alaska is north. However, its true there is a part of Alaska, inaccessible by road, that runs down the west coast of Canada. So here we are hopping between Stewart in Canada and Hyder in Alaska. We are staying in Stewart, a two horse town with, lots of historic wooden buildings and a toaster museum. However as Hyder, at the southern tip of Alaska is only a mile away, we nipped over to Alaska for lunch in the Halibut Bus.
Hyder is a no-horse town, it was once a mining town but is now a ghost town. The reason for visiting it is to go to Fish Creek where grizzly bears and black bears go to gorge on the spawning salmon. The first evening we sat there for 3 hours waiting for an appearance. As we were being distracted by a bald eagle fishing the first bear made its appearance slowly and quietly sneaking from one side of the river to the other side. It almost snuck past without being spotted but one excited
shriek from an observant tourist was enough to make everyone rush to the spot.
An hour later, with no more appearances most of the group decided to head back to Canada for a beer. We dawdled a bit longer but it was starting to get dark so we headed to the gate and were just about to leave when the ranger got a message on his radio to say a young grizzly was making her way up the river. Sure enough, after a mad dash back down the boardwalk there she was splashing along making a few half-hearted attempts to catch a fish. We followed her, along the river, for 10 minutes or so then suddenly there was a large black bear coming the other way. They eyed each other up briefly, the larger black bear made a few big splashes and the grizzly ducked under the boardwalk we were on and wandered along the patch and into the car park next to our bikes. By now it was dark so the few remaining tourists grouped together to brave the car park and head back to Canada. Needles to say we weren't to popular with the rest of the
group who had left 10 minutes before the appearance of the two bears and the beers were on us.
The next day was just as exciting when we took a helicopter ride up to the Cambrian Icefield (courtesy of a small envelope slipped to us by David & Lynn just before we left the UK). The previous group were already up there as we zigzagged our way 400ft up the mountainside just above the tree line. As we popped over the top the icefield looked absolutely enormous. But it was only when the pilot asked if we could see the previous group and we realized that they were just tiny, tiny black specks that the true scale was revealed. The four of us were dropped on the snow field and the helicopter disappeared off into the distance with the previous group. Then there was total complete and utter silence and all we could see was snow, mountains and blue sky - quite an amazing experience.
Today was also Edwin's birthday. He had the pleasure/mis-fortune of being the 1st person in the group to have a birthday. He was rather apprehensive that evening as the group met to discuss
the route for the next few days. Sure enough at the end of the route talk he had to stand at the front and was presented with a number of parcels wrapped in newspaper - no expense spared on this trip. The presents included a nice Harley Davidson bandanna which he had to wear that evening and at all future group events, a pair of grizzly bear pants which he wore that evening and kept flashing at everyone, and a shot glass as he seems to have already earnt a reputation as a bit of a drinker.
All in all our day off in Stewart/Hyder was a great success. Tomorrow its back on the bike to continue the journey south with a 430 mile day.
Tot: 1.368s; Tpl: 0.075s; cc: 14; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0209s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.3mb