Thursday, June 30, 2011

To Alaska and Back in One Morning

Get out a map of Canada that includes Alaska. Look at the southernmost tip of Alaska. If your map is detailed enough, you should see, just a little northeast of Ketchikan, the towns of Stewart, British Columbia and Hyder, Alaska. That's where we went this morning, and made it back in time for lunch here at Lake Meziadin.

After a breakfast of stuffed French Toast (spread cream cheese on one slice of bread and a little marmalade on the other and then make a sandwich that you dip in the egg batter and fry), we hopped in the truck and headed down Highway 37A. It's a 40-mile spur of the 37 that goes to the coast and the towns of Stewart and Hyder.

Along the way you go through some fabulous scenery, and see several glaciers and lots of waterfalls.

This is the first glacier you get to. It may not look like one, but most of it is covered by debris. The top is partially obscured by clouds.

I really thought this would turn out better, since you could see the twin hanging glaciers clearly in person. Take my word for it, then, that on either side of the vertical snow line, there are two hanging glaciers.

This is Bear Glacier, only 18 miles from our campground. It used to come all the way to the highway, but now ends in this lake.

This is the toe of Bear Glacier, where the water coming out of it forms the Bear River. The highway now follows the Bear River all the way down to the Portland Canal.

This is an unnamed fan glacier. A large portion of the left side has recently calved (broken off).

There are waterfalls everywhere, and you can hear the roaring of them because there are so many.

After the highway goes through a narrow canyon, the valley and the river open up.

You first come to the town of Stewart, British Columbia. It sits at the head of the Portland Canal, which is actually a long fjord or inlet from the Pacific Ocean. Stewart has approximately 700 people, and has a school, a health facility, a gas station ($1.33/liter), and numerous stores and services. We stopped at the little visitor center to pick up a pamphlet.

Next to the Visitor Center is this monument to the American and Canadian men from the Portland Canal who sacrificed their lives for their country in World War I and World War II.

I hope you can click on these to make them larger so you can read them.

About 2 miles from Stewart you cross the international border into Hyder, Alaska. Hyder has about 100 people, and unlike Stewart, the roads are all gravel or dirt.

Fish Creek runs down from Salmon Glacier into the Portland Canal. Every summer the salmon come up the creek to spawn, and out come the bears. Both grizzlies and black bears come by the dozens to feed on the salmon, so the U. S. Forest Service has built a long raised viewing platform so humans can watch the bears. Unfortunately for us, we're about 2-3 weeks early, so no salmon, and no bears.

When you cross the border into Alaska from Stewart, there is no checkpoint. However, when you cross back into Canada, there's an agent who asks you for your identification and asks all the same questions you're asked when you cross anywhere else (where are you coming from, where are you going, how long will you be in Canada, do you have any firearms or anything else to declare).

Looking south down the Portland Canal. We're not sure what kind of operation this is, but my guess is that it's for loading logs onto boats. The brochure we picked up says forestry is one of the main reasons Stewart and Hyder exist. If you know something else, let me know.

Looking north up the Portland Canal. We saw 4 fishing boats. When we first passed by it was low tide, but now the tide is gradually rising.

There are 5 of these tie-down cleats on the platform where we parked. Obviously bigger ships used to dock here.

More waterfalls on the way back.

We were back to the trailer by noon, so after a lunch of quesadillas, and with the rain finally stopped, you wanna guess what Don's doing?

You guessed it!

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Diana of Diana Rambles said...

Quick trip indeed! We were there around July 19th last year and the salmon were LATE! Love that area!

Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Thanks for the quick tour:)