Continuing on down the road from Bear glacier we reached the town of Stewart, British Columbia, Canada our next stop was Hyder, Alaska ,USA. For those with a good grasp of geography you’re probably thinking Alaska this soon how come ? If you study the map the Alaskan border runs down the edge of the west coast quite a long way. Hyder is a little town in the most southern point of Alaska, there is no exit from Hyder except the sea or doubling back to Stewart so we didn’t have to go through any customs to enter America but on returning to Canada we went through a border post and needed to show our passports to re-enter BC.
The reason we wanted to ride up this dead-end on the edge of the world was Salmon glacier and Fish creek. We rode straight through town and took the somewhat interesting dirt road up the hillside. Some of it was knarly, some easy mostly depending on the gradient and the depth of the gravel. There were drop offs down the side of the mountain and the higher we travelled the more spectacular the scenery got. We stopped a couple of times on the ride up to look down over Salmon Glacier but it wasn’t until we reached the summit that we had our first glimpse of the mighty Cambria Ice field which feeds Salmon Glacier, Bear Glacier and many others.
The glacier is of course a constantly moving conveyor belt of ice, looking down on the toe of the glacier there are small ridge-like accumulations known as Terminal or End Moraines. These Terminal Moraines mark standstill positions of a present or past glacier front. Salmon Glacier was the most impressive glacier we had ever seen and its is a mere remnant of the huge glacier that originally sculpted out this huge valley.
Halfway up the mountain we passed back into British Columbia as Salmon glacier is back in Canada and is the fifth largest Glacier in Canada although ironically you have to enter the USA to get to it.
The Cambria Ice fields feed the glacier at its summit. The place was majestic and awe-inspiring we spent an hour or more absorbing its beauty.
Snow and ice were present at the edges of the road and the water carved beautiful sculptures in the snow.
The local seafood express had been recommended and although Hyder was a tiny town it took a while to find it but that just made the food taste all the sweeter. Diane’s husband catches the halibut and she cooks it. Robin Williams ate here when filming Insomnia in Hyder. Judging by the window of the bus it has become a regular stop on many bike tours, we gave Diane one of our stickers to add to the window. The food was great and the setting perfect.
A local came in at the end of our meal and said a grizzly had just been spotted at fish creek. Fish creek is ‘the’ place to spot bears but usually later in the season when they come for the salmon, to see a grizzly so early was really unusual so we high tailed it back to the viewing platforms. It was a great place to watch them from as you are enclosed in a boardwalk about 20 feet higher than the river so it is relatively safe but close up for pictures.
In all we saw three grizzly, two together and one came later following the scent of the first. We also got to see quite how powerful and fast they are.
An onlooker on the road side was taking pictures when he must have made a sound, the grizzly in the water instantly cleared the 10 foot bank in about 2 strides and was on the roadside just as the man reached his 4×4 and sped off presumably to go change his underwear….. With a whole new understanding of these magnificent creatures we were now better equipped for our journey. Boy they are fast !
It had been a fabulous day and we thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with Steph and Bear so we arranged to travel with them tomorrow towards Whitehorse. Here’s us outside the Stewart sign.
Next up – Cassiar hwy and more new friends.