August 10-11, 2009

It rained all night and was still raining when we started out again this morning. We continued down the Cassiar Highway and the condition of the highway has improved a lot – it is much smoother. We turned onto the Stewart/Hyder Access Road and stopped at Bear Glacier – still raining and the clouds were very low.

This road is called Glacier Highway and on a clear day you can see over 20 hanging glaciers but unfortunately for us, it was not clear and we couldn’t see any of them. The canyon is beautiful and has very steep walls and we traveled through many avalanche areas. We arrived in Stewart, BC and are staying at the Bear River RV Park – still raining.

We spent the afternoon doing laundry and grocery shopping – Stewart is very small and we didn’t have much choice for groceries. Stewart and Hyder are at the head of the Portland Canal, a narrow saltwater fjord approximately 90 miles long. The fjord forms a natural boundary between Alaska and Canada. This evening we drove a few miles down the road to Hyder, AK. The US does not have a border crossing here so we did not have to clear customs. Hyder is even smaller than Stewart and the streets were dirt and full of pot holes. A few miles outside of Hyder is the US Forest Service Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area in the Tongass National Forest. There is a long boardwalk along the river so you can watch and photograph bears fishing for chum and pink salmon.

This pond was created when they built the road and offers a good haven for salmon fry. We watched a beaver swimming around.

We arrived around 6:30 pm and about 7:30 a grizzly bear showed up. The bear stayed for about 45 minutes and gave us a great show chasing and eating salmon and just walking up and down the creek – what a treat it was to watch. There were lots of salmon spawning in the creek and a lot of dead salmon along the bank. We really enjoyed the evening even though it rained off and on.

We did have to stop at the Canadian Border Crossing on the way back to Stewart.
The next morning we had planned to drive to Salmon Glacier above the Fish Creek Viewing Area. Unfortunately, the road has been washed out and is closed a few miles above the viewing area. We are disappointed as we have been told this is a beautiful area and the glacier is spectacular.

So, we went back to the viewing area to see if we could find some more bears. No luck with seeing bears but we did see a mama Hooded Merganser with 18 chicks. At least we think there are 18 - they wouldn't hold still long enough to get an accurate count.

It was fun watching them swim around. We crossed the border back into British Columbia - this is the last time we will be in Alaska. What a beautiful state and we really enjoyed the 7 weeks we spent in the nation’s largest state.


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