Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tiny Hyder Is An Eye-full – Alaska Adventure 2010

Aug 17 –19:  Some say Hyder is the place of all places to watch the bears. Baby grizzly wants Mom to play.  She isn't in the mood. They also say that the Cassiar spur leading there is an exceptional drive. Since our plan was to go south on the Cassiar Highway on our way back to the lower 48 anyway, we decided to make it our last destination for the Alaska Adventure. The small town of Stewart, B. C. and the even tinier town of Hyder, Alaska, population 100, are about two miles apart along the Portland Canal, that forms the natural boundary between Canada and Alaska.Hyder, Alaska, was a silver-mining boomtown in 1917-18.  Mining is almost non-existent now.  Forestry and tourism mostly fuel the economy. 




  As you drive out of Stewart on the two-mile stretch toward Hyder, you pass unnoticed by the Canadian customs office and the Welcome to Hyder, Alaska sign greets you.  There are about two city blocks, dirt road that is,  of the town of Hyder. The businesses include the Glacier Inn where people are “Hyderized,” the Sealaska Inn, a few gift shops, two “general stores,” and Camp-Run-A-Muck.  Yes, Camp-Run-A-Muck became our home for three nights.  It’s a clean and friendly establishment that’s the closest place to the bear-viewing location.  Camp-Run-A-Muck is really a misnomer for this park.  Everything seemed well-organized and the hosts provided excellent information on things to-do and see. The water and electric hookup sites are $22 and we had a shady spot in the pine trees to keep the refrigerator happy.  We enjoyed our stay.

Our three days in Hyder included bear watching, halibut eating, limited shopping, bakery sampling, glacier viewing and mountain road driving. Did I forget to mention “The Seafood Express”  in my description?  Oh yes, there is one more block of businesses. Off the main drag in Hyder is this fabulous converted vehicle where Diana makes the best deep fried halibut and scallops ever.  We know other menu items have to be good too, but we were getting our fill on our favorites. Diana’s husband is a commercial fisherman who brings in the supplies.  They own the fish processing facility next door.  She’s been making her fresh dishes for 12 summers now, ever since she tired of hearing their processing customers say they thought they were coming to a restaurant.  Loved the place! (See photo below.)

Taking in the surrounding Tongass National Forest  and the ambiance of this little piece of Alaska was a great way to fade out of our Alaska Adventure.  Each photo below tells a bit more of the story of our time in Hyder.  If you would like to get the picture,  just run your cursor over your choices for a few more details.

Grizzly cub enjoyed the salmon mom caught at Fish Creek.  He entertained us for the evening. 
Junior is cleaning up the scraps.
  Here's J.R. relaxing with an Alaskan Amber while we wait patiently for our fresh seafood at the Seafood Express in Hyder.   Our choice of restaurants in Hyder.
We watched the Grizzlies closely in their habitat at Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing area  just three miles from our campground.    They roamed, fished, ate and played.  This is the time of year when the bears are storing fat for their winter hibernation.
Grizzly Mom enjoys salmon while cub plays.
The 22-mile drive up the winding mountain road to the top of the Salmon Glacier is a feast for the eyes, but a little scary at points. Ole Yeller took the sharp turns on the sheer cliff dropoffs like a pro.  See a few of the views on our other photos.
Beauty of the Tongass National Forest
Salmon Glacier looking up toward the summit.  This is the fifth largest glacier in the world.  The scenery is breathtaking as you drive up Glacier Road and look over the steep roadside cliffs to the glacier.

This view shows the river flowing down the valley from Salmon Glacier.  The river flows from the tip of the glacier, forming the "toe."
The Toe of Salmon Glacier 

The resident black bear walked across our path as we were driving through Hyder, just before we came across this sign.  We are warned not to surprise a bear.  Many hikers wear bells to warn them humans are in the area.  And also, it is good to detour around areas where you see or smell carcasses of fish or animals.  That may be the bear's food stash and it may defend it aggressively.  Although most of the time the bear will avoid human contact.
Wise warning in Stewart, B. C. 
The mother grizzly watched the swimming Chum salmon in Fish Creek intensely.  Then she began her pursuit.  Soon she was reaching out with her huge paws and grasping the salmon. It was exciting to see her go through her food hunt.
Fish Creek, 3 miles west of Hyder, where many bears come to get their fix of salmon in August and September.
 This chubby black bear was our first sight when we arrived at Fish Creek.  Usually the brown and black bears are not cooperative in their feeding areas.  But when the salmon are spawning and the bears are stocking up for the winter, they share the bounty.
Black bear says: “Yummy, which one will I choose?”
Salmon return to Fish Creek to spawn and then they die. The eggs are fertilized by their carcasses.
When the bears finish, the birds feast  on the spoils.
We got a laugh from the post office in Hyder.  Have you ever seen a branch like this one?
Hyder Post Office

Camp Run-A-Muck
The Fireweed in  Alaska grows wild everywhere.  As the blooms shed it is a sign that summer is ending and winter is coming.  See the empty branches of this Fireweed bush?
Fireweed at Salmon Glacier
Hyder surroundings

Thanks for sharing our Alaska Adventure.  Talk to you soon.

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