|Monday Will fill in the blanks later - sorry . . .
Woke up early (but we both went to bed early last nite) – it is quite cool, but looks like it will be a great day, there’s nothing but blue sky above us!
Barely pulled out of the park & we saw a huge mountain ahead of us, the snow on the peak was shining brightly in the sun – Wow, what a way to start the day. A real eye-opener –better than coffee even!
A deer ran across the road very quickly & then we saw a black bear along the side of the road ahead of us, Ron came to a stop – when it was clear we were not a threat, 2 little fuzz balls came across the road – her cubs were waiting for her signal to cross. They were so cute, but also very fast. By the time my camera was ready, they had disappeared into the dense woods. Pretty special tho. . .
So many beautiful mountains all around – the snow looks so clean & white. The air is so fresh – wish I could bottle it up & take it home! We don’t have too far to travel today & the roads are excellent – should be in Hyder before we know it.
After turning onto the Hyder, Hwy. the road started a descent – for the next __ miles we went down & down & still down more. The drive was so beautiful, more giant mountains all around & the road was great. It took longer than we expected, but we arrived in Hyder ~noon. Took a drive to Fish Creek just 3 miles up the road – it is part of the Tongas State Park. A huge fenced in walk-way has been built so people can watch the local bears without being in danger. The road getting there was terribly dusty & all washboard & large stones – the 3 miles took us 20 minutes. . . but just as we arrived at the bridge we had to stop for a grizzly bear & cub walking right at us. It was so neat, the bears are used to people being around & they know they are in charge – they walked right down the middle of the road, got to the other side of the bridge (where we were parked) & walked down to the river! We had to park quite a ways down, ran as fast as we could, but they had just walked into the brush. The salmon are about 2 weeks late this year – USUALLY there is a real bear frenzy going on as black & grizzlies stand near each other enjoying the salmon run. This is the latest year on record for the run to start (except for 3 yrs ago when there were no salmon at all) – just our luck – the fish are at the mouth of the river, just not moving up yet (Ranger said they need a good rain) – I am sure they will all head this way as soon as we leave tomorrow morning!
From Fish Creek, we headed on up the road to see Salmon Glacier – everyone we talked w/said it was fine to take the mh up – “people do it all the time – even the great big ones”. Our neighbor 2 nites ago had driven his 34 ft mh up – said it was really scary w/big drop offs, but that the views were worth every minute of it. Ron knew I really wanted to go up (I was going to ask someone w/a truck or car for a ride) – but Ron said he was game so off we went. The first several miles were not too bad after the washboard getting to Fish Creek – but then the washboard started all over again – the dust never let up, but fortunately there wasn’t much traffic. After a stretch of fairly level road we started climbing & the road started twisting. We met one idiot that was driving a pickup downhill at a very fast speed – thank goodness we weren’t on a narrow part of the road – really expected to see him off the road on our return trip. The views going up were amazing – but Ron couldn’t relax at all, he was so worried about the mh staying in one piece, of getting a flat tire from all the large, sharp stones & of burning out the breaks on the downhill stretch.
We got to a place where there was a pullout & stopped for a photo – we could see the road ahead of us climbing even steeper for quite a long ways yet before we reached the official turnout. I know Ron was not enjoying the road & after getting some great views of the glacier, we turned around & headed back to our park. I don’t know how, but everything does seem to be in one piece & we made it back down ok. We really rattled everything in every drawer & cupboard (& the fridge/freezer) – most things were moved a little, but stayed in their assigned locations.
Next we took a tour of the town – there isn’t much here – they say they are the “The Friendliest Little Ghost Town in Alaska". (Pop. 88 year-round) The town is larger than I thought it would be & laid out every which way, many stores are closed, everything is very old – but we found everything we were looking for – decided that before returning to Fish Creek that we would stop at a local bar/grill & get dinner to go. If we smell like burgers & fish the bears should show up for sure!
We waited for a couple of hours & didn’t see any bears, but talked to several nice people – one lady lives near Denver, CO & works for the USGS – she was really surprised that I knew what that stood for! Another lady from Washington is on her way to visit her daughter & family (inc. a 2-yr old grandbaby that she’s never met) in Juneau. This is their 4th visit to Hyder – she has over 2,000 photos of bears in the river catching/eating fish! And I’ve been called obsessed w/AK! She reminds me of a good friend, Pat – who I must call when we return home.
We didn’t see any bears, but we did have an adult mink run on the pathway right below the walk-way. It was moving fast & I couldn’t get a photo of it. Then I moved a little further down when I heard what sounded like a strange bird chirping – then a little movement in a nearby bush at the edge of the walkway & another little stream caught my attention – there were 3 little minks rolling around & making a fuss. They ran around the edge of the water, but were so fast that we could only catch a quick look at them.
We finally gave up on seeing more bear – somehow they know the salmon haven’t arrived yet! Wish we could stay another few days, but Ron is ready to move on. He says the buggy is leaving, I can get a plane ticket for later if I want.
The weather has been about perfect today, warm sunshine & cooling off tonite again w/a little breeze – I would sure like to take this home w/me! It is still unusually hot & humid in Michigan (& much of the country, I think we will miss this very soon)! Even on the river tonight the mosquitoes weren’t bad – there were a few pesky black flies that made us a target for awhile. Overall, we had a great day & are looking forward to a good night’s sleep – we are parked pretty close to the road, but the bear viewing area closes at 10 & it’s almost 11 here, so there shouldn’t be any more traffic – not that it would keep us awake if there was! It’s amazing what you can get used to after a couple of nights!
Critter Count: 5 bears, 3-4 Eagles, 4 mink, 1 deer
For the grandkids:
1) Alaska is very big and it seems a lot of things here are too – today we were in the Tongass National Forest – can you find out how many square miles make up this National Forest?
2) How many square miles make up the state of Michigan?
Hours on the Road: ~5 total Miles Driven: