In the spirit of slowing down we drove 276, 300 and 301 miles in three days before making it to the Stewart/Hyder area. We drove in 3 days what should have on our schedule taken us 6. In our defense we had a change in plans for the latter part of this trip which required us to make up a few days.Leaving Dawson City we started to see a lot more wildlife along the roadways. Bears, grouse, moose and fox. Early on in our trip we would slow down, stop and even turn around to look at the wildlife, now we are zooming by yelling out the window to stay off the road. We did stop and take a few pictures of two fox that were just standing at the side of the road like they did not have a care in the world. Hopefully these guys will smart up before it is too late!
The traffic along both the Klondike Loop was almost nonexistent, it seemed like we virtually had the roads to ourselves. This changed once we turned onto the Cassiar Highway there was a lot of traffic going both ways. Parts of this highway were some of the best we have seen so far on the trip while others were…well not so much. Not as bad as the Alaska Highway on the way to Tok but there were plenty of potholes and a fair amount of construction. In fact it was this leg of the trip we had our first vehicle breakdown. We were driving merrily down the road when our tire pressure monitor alarm went off and indicated that we had 40psi in the inner dually (normally 65). As I looked for an area to pull over the psi continued to drop to 20 by the time I found a safe spot to pull over. The problem was obvious when we heard air hissing out from a rock imbedded between the tread of the tire. Luckily, thanks to Barb’s cousin Lori’s advice we had picked up a tire plug kit and mini portable air compressor for just such an emergency. So we grabbed a couple of larger rocks put them under the outer tire and drove up on them thus getting the inner tire off the ground. With a screwdriver I was able to pry the rock out, put a plug in, pump it up and was back on the road within 45 minutes. I kept an eye on the monitor the rest of the day and the plug held pressure. Disaster averted……Thanks Lori! This is the first time in 2 ½ years we have had a flat tire. Had we not had the tire pressure monitors that tire would have shredded as we had no idea there was a flat.
|Getting it pumped back up!|
|This is the rock that was in there|
Again on this road there are plenty of places to stop and spend the night for all sized rigs. We stopped for two nights; one at the Fox Creek Rec. Area where they have several informal campsites right along the Dease River and the following night just short of Stewart at the Bell River rest area.
|The leaves are falling already!|
|Fox Creek Campsite|
The drive down Highway 37A into Stewart was one of the most beautiful drives we have taken ranking right up there with our drive into Skagway and our drive into Valdez. Mountains, rivers, countless waterfalls and more than a dozen glaciers over the 38 mile drive.
We had a list of things we wanted to do in the Stewart/Hyder area. When we arrived we went straight through Stewart and across the Alaskan border into Hyder. Interesting thing about this border is that there is no U.S. customs, you just drive right on through. I don’t know what we were expecting driving into Hyder but if someone were to ask us to guess we would have been wrong. No gas station, no grocery stores, not much of anything other than a gift shop, a bar and a bunch of boarded up buildings. Even the visitors center was closed.
So after being in Hyder to 10 minutes we turned around and headed back into Stewart. Crossing back into Canada there is a full customs station with the usual questions; How long do you plan on being in Canada? I don’t know maybe 20 minutes? Did you buy anything in Hyder that you are bringing into Canada? You are kidding right? Questions answered we went to the Stewart visitors center got some area information, spent a few minutes on their wifi and headed back to Hyder.
First stop was the Fish Creek Observation Site where for $5 each you can view the spawning salmon from a raised boardwalk and with luck view some feeding bears. We watched the salmon for about 30 minutes then headed off to our next adventure seeing the Salmon Glacier.
|Spawning Pink Salmon|
|Lagoon off the boardwalk.|
|Dead Chum Salmon were everywhere!|
The drive up the road to see the glacier is 21 miles of a rough and gravel road but it is by far the most impressive glacier we have seen on our trip! The road led up to the foot (what they call the snout) of the glacier and then followed along it for miles and miles until you get to the summit of the mountain you are climbing and the glacier turns and goes up another valley. Absolutely breathtaking.
The drive back down the hill was much faster but you should keep your vehicle in a lower gear so you don’t ride your brakes the entire way. I kept an eye on the tire pressure monitor both up and down happily seeing that the plug continued to hold pressure. Arriving at the bottom we headed to our next scheduled adventure for this area. The Glacier Bar…. For those of you not familiar with this bar it is famous for starting the tradition of getting “Hyderized”. Similar to the Sour Toe except there is no toe and the shot is 151 proof (it is poured into the shot glass from a bottle inside a brown paper bag). You have to drink the shot in one gulp and keep it down before you get your “Hyderized” credentials (card). A pretty good marketing ploy to be honest. Barb has been the one spouting off about this event so I sat back and watched as she slammed the shot then quickly took a drink of her beer. Her face got mighty red and she teared up but she kept it down! The bartender then took a lighter to the shot glass and lit the inside of the shot glass on fire to show how potent the shot really was.
We finished our beers and headed back to the fish/bear viewing area (I drove) and I noticed Barb was getting chattier, louder and goofier (yes, she can get goofier) as time went on. The shot went straight to her head! We returned to the observation area and maybe it was Barb’s yammering the entire time that kept them from coming in but we sat there until 9:30pm…..no bears.The next morning we got up and decided to head off for the next leg of our journey driving 367 miles (slow down!) to Burns Lakes stopping in New Hazelton, Smithers and Houston along the way. We stopped for the night at a really nice campground on Co-op Lake about 15 miles east of Burns Lake just off of 16.
This is a free campsite with some really nice sites right along the lake for any size rigs.
Continuing our journey east on 16 towards Jasper we stopped in Prince George for lunch and fuel before ending our day 6 miles east of McBride at Beaver River Rec Site, another free campground with a variety of sized sites.
In the past 5 days we have traveled over 1400
miles and tomorrow we finally get to slow down when we arrive in Jasper for a
few relaxing days of hiking and sightseeing!