We spent Sunday and Monday in Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK. One town runs into the next and they are both on the old side. I do have to say that Stewart looks neater and a bit newer. Hyder is old and funky. What Hyder has going for it are the bears. But before we start on the bears let me tell you about the drive to Stewart!
We had been driving on the Cassier Hwy for two days when we took 37A off of the Cassier. It was another absolutely stunning drive. The road runs down through a fjord like canyon that had been formed by glaciers and the canyon twists and turns until it meets the Portland Canal which then empties into the Gulf of Alaska. Along the way we saw a beautiful lake, at least 3 glaciers, a wonderful glacier fed river, a glacier fed lake and a gorgeous canyon with the river just roaring through it. Rick said “to heck with the bears, the scenery is worth the drive.” Oh, and I forgot the waterfalls. So many of them running down the mountains because there was still snow on the peaks.
We checked into Bear River RV Park, got set up and took off for the bear viewing platform. For those not familiar with Hyder and the bears, Salmon Creek runs through Hyder on its way to the Portland Canal and the Gulf of Alaska. Since it is so close to the Gulf, the salmon have been coming up that river to spawn for millennia. And the bears, doing what bears do, have been coming to Salmon Creek for as long to feast on the salmon. And since people like to watch bears the people come, in droves, to watch the bears catch the salmon. The Dept of Fish and Wildlife is there controlling things, making sure that people don't get in the water to get up close and personal with the bears. They have built a great boardwalk along the river, about 10 feet above the water. So people can safely watch and the bears aren't molested.
The river is not too big and it's very shallow and as clear as glass. The salmon, at least at this point in the river, have an easy time of it getting to their spawning site, And it is easy for the bears to get to the water. Now I think we have all seen nature programs showing bears catching salmon and it always looks so easy, right. Well, like anything Hollywood does, those are faked up because we watched and it is not easy! The bears really have to work at it. They must really like salmon to stand in that cold water for hours trying to catch one. And they don't always eat the whole thing. There were lots of salmon on the banks with just the head bitten off! What a waste! What a stink!!!
We were rewarded the first time we showed up with a mother and cub in the river. Mom was fishing and like all little kids when they go fishing with a parent the cub was just goofing off and having fun. It was fun watching the cub cavort around in the stream. And cavort is exactly what he/she was doing. Too cute! But he/she was keeping an eye on mom because when she caught one, little one was all over her. We could almost hear the cub saying 'I want some Mom. Let me have some.” But mom took the fish into the bushes and they shared their meal in private. We could tell where they were because the bushes kept shaking. When they were finished eating they approached the river but first Mom had to scratch herself all over on a tree.
The other show to watch are the people, especially the photographers! Now everyone on the boardwalk had a camera. Mostly small to medium size digital cameras. Nothing too fancy, mind you. But there were a half dozen or so who were obsessed. They had super long lenses and big tripods set up at the best viewpoints and they stay there all day, into the evening. Some of them have been coming to that spot for years. One lady has been coming for 5 years, all the way from Germany! I don't know what kind of lens she had but it was at least 16 inches long. I asked her if she was a professional and she said no she just loved the bears but she also took other nature shots. And get this, all the bears that frequent that river have been named by these people and all of frequent visitors recognize each one. Incredible! The only annoying thing is that they do not relinquish their spots to anyone so it makes it hard to see the bears sometimes, but what can you do.
The platform is in a beautiful location. The trees along the river attract the birds and we were very lucky to see mature Bald Eagles (the ones with the white heads0) and juveniles that are brown and white spotted. There is a lovely pond adjacent to the river also. Actually there are two streams in that area.
Of course all the bear fishing does not stop the salmon from spawning, well at least most of them. So that activity was interesting to watch. The female sweeps the gravel with her tail, rolls onto her side, releases the eggs and then the male fertilizes them. By that time the salmon has started the decaying process and will soon die. The body decomposes and adds nutrients to the water.
We went back the next day and another female was hunting but she did not have any cubs. She was soon out of sight further up the river so we left. We had chores to do at the rig since we would be leaving in the morning. You know what that chore is...laundry. Yuck!
Almost forgot to mention that we met the nicest couple, form Asheville, NC. We had such a great time visiting on the boardwalk that we decided to have dinner together. We had heard about The Bus, which specializes in Halibut and Chips so we went there for dinner. We had a great time getting to know Mike and Nancy and exchanged cards. They said to look them up when we are in the area. Since that is one of my must see areas (the Biltmore Estate is there) I think that we will be seeing them one of these days.
So this morning we pointed the truck up the canyon and then turned east on the Yellow Head Highway towards Prince George. We boondocked in the city park in Burns Lake. They have a nice little campground there and the price is right! We are starting our return to the United States but first we want to see Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff and the Frank Slide. So there will be more to tell. Hopefully if I can get some good wifi tomorrow in Prince George I will be able to share this with you soon. So bye for now.