Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Traveling the Cassiar Highway and our First Flat Tire!


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.

Bear Glacier



Glaciers everywhere!


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.
Downtown Hyder
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 boardwalk along side the creek

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!

28 comments:

  1. The route you just took is the route we are thinking of taking, except we don't leave for 6 1/2 weeks! Knowing what we drive and tow - any thoughts or comments? You can send me a FB PM if that's better than clogging up your blog. Can't wait to hear about the rest!

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    1. We will give it some thought and send you a PM on FB.

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  2. It's been awhile since you blogged...thought a Grizzly got ya. Glad you got to see the Salmon Glacier. At a girl Barb on getting Hyderized...now you both have a claim to fame!
    Safe travels

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    1. I remember you had told us about being Hyderized so one of us had to do it! Salmon Glacier was incredible, I am glad we took the drive up there.

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  3. Now I know you are both crazy...drinking toes and unknown fire alcohol!

    Bear glacier is so pretty with all the blue ice and Salmon Glacier is beyond words...wow!!!

    We absolutely LOVED Jasper...the hiking , campground, and town! It was just the best!! Here is a link to our favorite hike if you have time. It is the Sulphur Skyline Trail:
    https://ohtheplacestheygo.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/sulphur-skyline-hike/

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    1. Thanks for the link we did not do a lot of hiking there, too many people! The glaciers in that area were beautiful and unexpected. We never really did too much preplanning for that area so we did not know what to expect.

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  4. Wow...that is an amazing glacier, Jim. Glad that tire plug held. Are you going to be ready for new tires when you get back? Looking forward to reading about your experiences from Jasper to Banff. Diana and I love that area.

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    1. The tires look like they have a few miles left in them but I think we are going to replace them when we get back down to Salt Lake.

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  5. Which portable inflator do y'all have? Runs off 12v or AC from genset?

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    1. We only have a 12 volt portable. I never thought of using the generator to run one, that would have worked as well and been much faster. As it was it took about 30 minutes to get the tire back up to pressure.

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  6. What!?! Barb didn't get a certificate for doing the shot!?! Looks like you guys had a great trip!

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  7. Beautiful glacier pictures. I am glad to see there are still some around. I thought they where gone due to global warming. "Hyderized" sounds better than the "Sour Toe". Sounds like Barb enjoyed it though.

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    1. It is amazing how far some of the glaciers have receded since the early 1900's. I think Barb got the better end of the drink deal!

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  8. That's the coolest pictures of a glacier. Really awesome how it winds along. A giant frozen river! Barb is a champ! That one fox was a beautiful color!

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    1. We had seen glaciers like that in pictures but never first hand. I don't know how many miles it was but it was well over 10!

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  9. I loved the Bear glacier pic. Really great.

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    1. If you guys are heading that way on your way back home Salmon Glacier is definitely worth the trip.

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  10. We'll be heading the same way over the next few weeks, wonder if anyone in our group will get Hyderized, our friends impressed you did the Sour Toe. Hope we get to see some of those same glaciers. Tried to get into Jasper after the caravan with a few of our friends but no luck. Enjoy Jasper looked like a cool little town.

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    1. I am thinking you guys should both get Hyderized but make sure you have a designated driver, that is some powerful stuff!

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  11. Wow, and I thought we traveled far distances sometimes! We enjoyed the Cassiar as much, if not more, than the Alaska Highway. We passed on the "Hyderized", and we struck out on seeing bears at the Fish Creek deck too...but saw some on the way in and way out of Stewart. Wish our paths would have crossed. Sure have enjoyed your Alaska travels so much. We are now in HOT Northern Cal...100 today for about an hour...YUCK!

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    1. We thought it was getting hot here in the upper 70's, you can keep the 100 degree weather. Maybe we will be near each other this winter in Arizona!

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  12. Wow all that Chum Salmon must have made some wonderful Jerky for y'all to enjoy! What a bummer on the flat tire, simply amazing that a rock could puncture through all the plies in an E rated tire! You and Barb have really had an awesome trip! We're so envious of all the Class of 2014 that are in Alaska! Safe Travels!

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    1. From what I understand the Chum salmon aren't good for much other than jerky but I think by the time they are done spawning they are not even worth that.

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  13. Enjoy your time in Jasper. It is one of our favourite places in Alberta by far. We got married on top of Whistler Mountain past the tram station at the top. Tough climb but the views are incredible. Try the steakhouse above the A&W downtown, very good!! Of course I'm sure you will find Jasper brewing Company on the Main street. Food is good too:) Great blog about the trip to Alaska.

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    1. Jasper was a pretty town and we will be back someday to enjoy it a little more. We are already planning another trip through there during the off season.

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  14. Hi Jim & Barb! Brian and I have talked about your grand adventure over the past years, and all of a sudden--this morning--it occurred to me you might have a blog, so I searched for it. HERE YOU ARE!!! You both look great and it looks like you're having the time of your lives--SO AWESOME!!! I look forward to catching up through your past posts and following your journey in the future. Travel safely!!! Kaiva & Brian Huff

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    1. So good to hear from you guys! Barb and I talk about you guys often and about stopping to visit next time we are in your area. Tell Brian hi for us, hope all is well with you guys!

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