When we first started this trip, Greg bought a copy of The Traveler’s Guide to Alaskan Camping by Mike and Terri Church, and we have used it constantly for information on where to camp, what to see and, occasionally, what to avoid. There are good sections on side-trips, including one just off Hwy37 that they strongly recommend. So we took their advice and spent a day visiting Stewart and Hyder, 2 little villages that are either side of the Canadian/US border. It’s a 65km detour down 37A, plus another 35km to get out to Salmon Glacier, which was the highlight of the day for us. On the way to Stewart, we stopped to look at Bear Glacier, which was pretty impressive (and much better than Exit Glacier near Seward – good thing that was the first one we saw otherwise it would have been a bit of a let-down)
Stewart is the northern-most ice-free port in Canada. It’s a pretty place nestled among high mountains, population 700, a couple of grocery stores, cafés and even one that started its life as a food truck and got built around as the business expanded. Hyder is just across the border in Alaska, population 100, lots of businesses closed. The Canadian customs officer told us that one of the hotels is run by an Australian woman, but it wasn’t open as it was Monday. The drawcard to Hyder is the bear-viewing area at Fish Creek which is a few kms northwest, and then the glacier another 30kms further on along a gravel road.
We saw a black bear beside the road to Fish Creek, but the salmon haven’t started running yet, so there’s not much activity yet. We were probably just a couple of weeks too early. There’s a chart at the Fish Creek ranger station showing the date that the first salmon made it there each year for the last 20 or so. Last year it was in late July, but that was because beavers had dammed the creek downstream and the fish were all there, waiting. As soon as the rangers broke down the dam, the fish started swimming upstream and the bears appeared. We asked the ranger about the condition of the road to Salmon Glacier and he warned us about a 100metre section, but told us that the rest of it was okay. It was. And so worth the drive.
Salmon Glacier is the biggest one we’ve seen, and the only one we’ve been able to see from above. Magnificent. Greg’s photos will tell more than I can put into words …