Stewart and Hyder

Wednesday (8/2) we left the Watson Lake area and traveled south on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway.  There are two main routes to travel from the lower 48 states through Canada to Alaska and back.  The most popular route is the Alaska Highway (this is the route we used going north in June).  The other popular route is the Stewart-Cassiar Highway, which is further west and more remote.  The northern most section of the Stewart-Cassiar highway is a narrow, two lane paved road with no center line and no shoulders.  It is a fun drive, as there is almost no other cars and nothing but wilderness along the road for miles and miles.  The road reminded me of the old, rolling roads in the deep woods of  Northern Wisconsin, only much more remote and with mountain views.  During the first hour of our drive, Laurie saw a bear (I missed it).  And, as we rounded one corner, we both saw a lynx crossing the road.  Very exciting, as neither of us had ever seen a lynx in the wild. 

The Stewart-Cassiar Highway is narrow and not always level, but fun to drive!
After a while, the mountains come into view. Around a bend in the road like this one, we saw a lynx.

Once you get into the mountains, there is a tiny town called Jade City.  You guessed it, there is a large deposit of jade nearby.  A local company mines the large rocks, and then cuts them into working pieces.  Tourists can watch the craftsmen create items for sale.  We spent some time looking around, but didn’t buy anything.  There were many beautiful pieces, all of which were out of our price range.  

Lucy was happy to get out of the RV for a while, even if she had to pose for another photo.
Sections are cut from large rocks like this one and then further shaped and polished.

We thoroughly enjoyed the serene drive through remote Northern British Columbia.  We knew that soon we would be driving home through developed areas, so we took our time to soak in the remoteness of this beautiful area.  We stopped for the night at Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park, and we were lucky to grab the last lakeside campsite.  Once again, we found ourselves camping alongside another beautiful, crystal clear alpine lake with mountain views.  

Lucy and Laurie went for a walk in the water as soon as we arrived at our campsite.
After a strong thunderstorm went through, Lucy got to wade in the lake one more time just before sunset.

We continued further south on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway on Thursday (8/3), enjoying the abundant wildflowers.  The road got a little bit wider and a centerline appeared as we got closer to Stewart, BC.  We were emerging from the far-north remote wilderness of British Columbia into somewhat populated area. 

The fireweed was just past its prime, but there were long stretches of a yellow flower named Bird's-foot trefoil
Some haze from nearby wildfires was noticeable, but it didn't hide any of the area's beauty.

The road continued to become slightly wider and much more scenic.  Once again we found ourselves in awe of the mountains, glaciers, lakes and streams.  One stretch of road wound through a deep canyon and reminded us of the road to Valdez.  Other sections followed the shoreline of gigantic lakes or rushing streams.  We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon, even after all of the spectacular scenery that we’ve taken in over the past two months.  We have been absolutely spoiled by the beauty of Alaska and Northern Canada.  

Another glacier coming down another mountain into another glacial stream. But, we never tire of seeing this.
This is the view from the Bear River bridge, just as you enter Stewart, BC.

We stayed at Bear River RV Park on Thursday (8/3) and Friday (8/4) nights.  This park was better than most other Alaska or Northern Canada RV parks, with some grass and a little bit of room between sites.  There was also a trail through the woods to the nearby Bear River, perfect for taking Lucy for walks.

Lucy is clearly getting tired of Dad making her pose in front of signs.
Why would someone put all these rocks in the way to prevent poor Lucy from getting into the water?

Stewart is located in British Columbia, while the neighboring community of Hyder is located in Alaska.  The only road into Hyder is through Stewart.  Interestingly, there is no US Border Patrol at this Alaskan point of entry, yet there is a Canadian border patrol station as you re-enter Stewart from Hyder.  On Friday (8/4), we drove to this tiny town of Hyder, which had a 2020 census  population count of only 48 people.  Luckily, 2 of the 48 locals run a fantastic fish shack called “The Bus“.  We had to wait about an hour to get our order of Halibut and chips, but it was well worth it. 

The bustling downtown on Hyder, AK on a Friday afternoon. No traffic jams, here!
Fresh halibut cooked to perfection at The Bus. And, yes, all those people are in line ahead of me.

The top reason tourists travel to the Stewart / Hyder area this time of year is to visit the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site, located a few miles outside of Hyder.  The salmon return to spawn every August and September in this small creek, attracting brown and black bears.  There is an elevated boardwalk along the creek, staffed with Park Rangers that have bear spray, allowing for safe viewing of any potential bear activity.  We spent a good part of Friday afternoon on the boardwalk, waiting for bears to come and feast on the plentiful salmon.  It was a warm and sunny day, so apparently the bears decided to stay in the woods and nap.  It was still fun to see the significant numbers of salmon spawning in the river and a peaceful way to spend a Friday afternoon. 

The dark spots you see in this photo of Fish Creek are mainly spawning salmon.
Here is a close up view, so that you can see the dark spots are actually fish.

As we left Hyder, we knew the Alaska part of our adventure had ended.  Stewart represented the last main excursion for northern British Columbia, as well.  So, we were a bit sad as we left the area on Saturday morning (8/5).  We have fallen in love with Alaska and northwestern Canada.  Both Laurie and I agreed that Alaska is now our at the top of our list of favorite states.  We now begin to head south and east, taking a path that hopefully avoids most of the wildfire smoke.  This means we are officially starting the long journey back to Wisconsin.  We’ll let you know if we see anything interesting along the way!

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