Iskut to Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK ~ 194 miles
Aug 11, 2007
|SATURDAY, AUGUST 11 - DAY 40 - TRAVEL DAY
ISKUT TO STEWART/HYDER - 194 miles
CAMPGROUND DESTINATION TONIGHT:
RAINY CREEK MUNICIPAL CAMPGROUND
Directions: Turn right on 8th Ave. Go to the end.
Milepost guide page 261
Travel day. Dinner. Bear viewing.
Our host for the next two nights is the Rainy Creek Municipal Campground. Before we head out this evening you will be treated to dinner at the Silverado Café in Stewart.
Of all 44 days of this Good Sam Club Caraventure, this is the day you have the best chance to see real live bears. Your Tour Director will tell you how to do it. Oh yes, there's a glacier and some mines here, too. Lots to do in this area.
Here you may encounter a blue glacier, mountain goats in the wild, Bald Eagles nesting among giant trees, and the bears fishing for migrating salmon on sparkling rivers. Visitors can't help but to be in awe of the incredible scenery...the grizzly bears, the soaring eagles, the glaciers and mountain peaks. In fact, you may even have to stop your vehicle to allow some local wildlife to cross the road.
Eyes widen and the heartbeat quickens at the sight of the 1,000-pound grizzly as it lumbers to the river in search of food. Where there are salmon there are bears and in Alaska that means lots of bears and big bears. Alaska is bear country and home to the largest concentration of bears in the world.
Polar bears, found in the Arctic regions of Alaska are the most dangerous. They fear nothing and anything that moves is a potential meal. There are approximately 4,000-6,000 of these predators ranging the pack-ice and coasts of northern Alaska.
Brown bears are big and powerful predators, but unlike polar bears the do not indiscriminately hunt anything that moves and are as likely to be found eating barriers and grass as ground squirrels or moose. There are approximately 35,000-45,000 of these giants roaming throughout Alaska and they are the most sought after by bear viewers.
Black bears are the most numerous and the smallest of the bears and are found throughout the southeast, south-central, and interior Alaska. Numbering over 50,000, they are the ones you most likely will wee in an urban setting. Black bears have been seen wandering downtown Anchorage in search of food.
The point here is that you do not have to travel far to see bears in Alaska and as such, any outdoor activity needs to take bear safety into account. This in mind, it should be noted that bear attacks are very rare in Alaska because most bears (other than polar bears) do not consider humans as food and try to avoid human contact. With proper bear safety precautions, your experience in the outdoors should be a safe and rewarding adventure.
We all headed out about 8 am this morning. The 1st 10 miles of roadbed was under construction with loose gravel/dirt mix being spread across both lanes. Additionally, a washout was being repaired. Soon thereafter, good road followed all the way to Stewart.
The views of the snow capped mountains, rivers and lakes were spectacular (see photos). On the way into Stewart, we passed Bear Glacier just off to the left of the highway. We also passed several high waterfalls dropping in behind their related glacier and into the river. As we got closer to Stewart, the river got larger from all the waterfalls and creeks feeding into it.
I arrived first again at the campground. Since it is a municipal campground, there is only power, no water or sewer. All the sites are small and back-in type. I had to detach and leave my trailer in the tenter's parking lot.
We've been warned that there is a bear frequenting the park and to be really careful when walking our pets.
At 4:30 this afternoon, we loaded onto our bus and headed into Stewart for dinner. Apparently, someone had cancelled our reservations for both the bus and dinner. So the bus driver and café owner scrambled to make our afternoon happen.
After dinner, we loaded onto the b us and drove into Hyder, AK and on to Fish Creek. They have built an observation platform/walkway along the creek for a good 1000 feet. From it we were able to see salmon spawning in the fast running, clear water. The female swept an area where she laid her eggs and was followed by a male, who fertilized them. This was happening all up and down the creek.
After a while of watching the salmon, a grizzly bear made his appearance in the creek. He walked up the creek, checking the groups of salmon. He dashed for a few and missed. On about his third try, he caught one. He took it to the shore and ate it under some shrubs. When he was done, he started up the creek again and caught another. He took this one to the shore but didn't eat it. He dropped it and went back into the creek for some further fishing. According to the Parks Service Ranger, the bears only eat the females with their egg sacks. If it gets a male, they will drop it and keep going. Apparently, that's what happened earlier. When we arrived, it was cloudy. As we observed, it sprinkled and was followed by a downpour. The bear moved on and we huddled under any shelter we could find to keep dry while awaiting our bus. He finally arrived and we were returned to our campground.
Our wagon master had to awaken me to do the dinner & bear watching events. The bus was loaded and waiting for me. So I threw my pants and shoes on, grabbed my jacked and Good Sam ID Badge and ran to the bus. I failed to bring my wallet or passport with me. While there is no US Customs (no place to go in AK - the road dead ends in the mountains), there is one in Stewart, BC. I was worried that I would have to wait at the border while someone went back to my coach to grab my wallet or passport and brought it back to me. Fortunately, I was in the 1st row and there was much conversation to the point that I was overlooked while everyone else held up their ID. I was sweating bullets. But, all's well that ends well.
Tomorrow, we go to see the Salmon Glacier in Hyder, AK.
Apparently, they get 100 ft of snow on the mountain tops each winter. Stewart got 39 ft on Main Street last winter. Unbelievable!