Back to civilization - kind of

Trip Start May 28, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Beaver View RV Park

Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Friday, July 20, 2012

We drove into Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK to see the bears at the Fish Creek viewing area.  We heard and read that it was probably the best place to see bears feeding on salmon.  No luck.  The main reason - the salmon didn't show.  The first run never happened, and the second run seems to be in jeopardy, or at least late.  Several people we talked to attributed the lack of salmon to the huge amount of snow and subsequent run off.  The rivers are still flowing at record levels, carrying with them tons of glacial silt.  The salmon can't "breathe" in that dirty water, so they hang out in the ocean until later - - or they don't go upstream at all.  

We did see about 10-12 pretty big salmon in Fish Creek, laying their eggs while swimming upstream.  The ranger told us one female grizzly had been visiting the site the last several days, but that was about it.  After waiting in the rain for a couple of hours, we decided that seeing a bear wasn't going to happen

Stewart/Hyder are two very small towns at the terminus of the Portland Canal, a 90 mile long natural fiord which flows out to the Inside Passage.  No ferries or cruise ships go to Stewart/Hyder, but Prince Rupert is not far by boat.  Ketchikan is about 75 miles away as the crow flies.  We've almost come full circle to where we were in early June. 

The good news is that the drive into and out of Stewart/Hyder was spectacular!  So many glaciers we lost count.  Had the weather been better, we probably could have spent many hours there photographing the waterfalls, snowslides and glaciers.  The highway department must have had a rough time this year keeping that road open.  We saw numerous places where avalanches, mudslides and river flooding had damaged or even wiped out the road at some point in time. 

Once we got back to the Cassiar Hwy, we decided to get as far as we could on our trip home.  The road was much improved and we could actually drive at a decent speed.  We still had to be very careful to spot the occasional bear dashing across the road (we saw 2 more), and there was always the "caution moose crossing" signs, though we saw no moose.

The Cassiar Hwy ended at the Yellowhead Highway, where we headed east.  The highway is named for the Yellowhead Pass, the route chosen to cross the Candian Rockies. The pass, and the highway are named after fur trader and explorer  Pierre Bostonais. He had yellow streaks in his hair, and was nicknamed "TÍte Jaune" (Yellowhead). 

Our stop last night was another BC provincial park next to a small lake.  We met a couple there from Guffey, CO (a very small town about 30 miles from our house).  Amazingly, we saw them again tonight when we pulled into our next campground.  We've been surprised at how many times we've seen the same people on our travels. 

Today was a long driving day along the Yellowhead Hwy.  By the time we reached Prince George, known as British Columbia's northern capital, it was sunny and 85 degrees. 

Our stop for the night, along the Fraser River in McBride, BC, has to be at the top of the list for the worst mosquitoes of the trip.  Puts the Alaska mosquitos to shame.  The campground owner told us they had so much rain in May/June that the highway was closed 5 times due to flooding/landslides.  Just today, we saw that the highway near Banff NP (where we are headed) is closed due to a mudslide.   We sure picked a good year to take this trip, didn't we?  Oh well, makes life interesting.

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