It was cloudy and chilly but bright when we arrived in Stewart, British Columbia. Because we had plans for outdoor activities, we hoped the weather would improve during our three-day stay. We camped in Stewart, a small community of about 600 that borders Hyder, Alaska, a self-proclaimed ghost town that was our intended destination. In an effort to maximize our time, we set up camp, ate dinner and were off to Hyder, approximately four miles from Stewart. It felt really weird to enter into the US from Canada and not have to stop at a border crossing. I guess the US Government’s position is if someone wants to enter and stay in an end-of-the-road community of 89 people, you are welcome to do so. Yes, if you turn left instead of right, the road literally ends in the ocean in Hyder!
Note the low-lying clouds and lack of sunshine
Hyder is known for grizzly and black bear sightings as they fish in the streams for salmon. We had read that the best times for sightings were early mornings and late evenings. We arrived at eight in the evening with camera in hand and high hopes of photographing a bear or two. After waiting and watching for 30 minutes or more, our enthusiasm was beginning to fade because the mosquitoes were the only ones eating dinner and unfortunately we were their dinner. Just as we were about to give up, a lone grizzly bear appeared from under the bridge and came lumbering down stream, stopping to check intermittently for fish that might be hiding in the brush at the edge of the stream. We were safely positioned on a boardwalk above the stream as the bear walked right past us, enabling me to get a great face shot. What great timing!
So it was back to British Columbia for the night, but not before going through customs in order to re-enter Canada. We needed to regroup for our return trip to Alaska the next day in order to view the Salmon Glacier. We awoke to another overcast day with rain in the forecast. So with raincoats and camera in hand, we set off to Alaska. After leaving Hyder we discovered that the glacier is actually in British Columbia because as we were driving, a sign on the side of the road indicated that we were re-entering Canada. Off to the right a few feet back was a small bench mark that had United StatesÂ embossed on it. It is a different world in these parts!
Along the way, we stopped at the “ice cube” playground. Large ice chunks were strewn throughout the river basin after the seasonal ice damn upriver broke. Jim was “called” by the surrounding mountains to return to his ancestral home. Â For me, it was play time.
Finally, we reached the Salmon Glacier and it was indeed worth the 25 mile drive into the wildernessÂ.
The next day we woke up to another cloudy day, but along with the clouds, we had to deal with rain as we packed up to leave camp. It rained all day with only hints of sunshine that was quickly overtaken by clouds. There was a metaphorical ray of sunshine in my day, however. What appeared to be a mirage in the distance was a black bear walking down the highway directly toward us. Â He hung around long enough for me to get a couple of pictures before he meandered out of sight into the woods.
Sunshine or not, I left the Stewart/Hyder area feeling satisfied that my mission to see bears and glaciers was accomplished. I can’t help but wonder though, does the sun ever shine there?