I woke up in Stewart to a fine Saturday morning and whipped out my laptop. I wanted to research my time-line to California to stay with friends and also figure out how I was going to get to Costa Rica by Oct 20th or so to see my kids. BIG MISTAKE!!!!
I got to reading trip reports off of Advrider.com and began to realize that I was CRAZY!!! What was I thinking going into entirely foreign lands, not speaking the language and trying to figure it all out as I go? Tales of police shake-downs and scary border crossings had me overwhelmed. My time-line also had me overwhelmed. I was really down on myself and fretting about the whole trip so I packed it in and headed for Hyder, Alaska… a two minute drive down the street 🙂 See, just like I originally planned… I went to Alaska… just not the part of Alaska most people think of 🙂
Camera in hand I rode the gravel road out to Fish Creek and wandered the boardwalk waiting to see bears. I waited, and waited, and waited and after 2 hours thought where are all these bears? The whole thing was totally not like had imagined. I guess I watched too many NatGeo specials where the grizzlies are standing in the falls and snatching the fish right out of the air. At Fish Creek, there are so many fish and the water is so shallow that catching a fish feels like cheating. My dog could have caught one and she is blind and has the IQ of a moose! Look at my pics and you will see what I mean.
Getting fed up, I decided to ride another hour on the gravel into the Tongass National Forest to see the Salmon Glacier. I wasn’t sure it was worth the ride and the road was pretty bumpy with sheer drops right off the side. Crazy that they let people drive up there. The road is very narrow in some places and if you lost it up there… well, you were in a world of hurt 🙂 I made it safely and I’m glad I went. Simply awesome scenery and who knew anything about the Salmon Glacier anyway. Apparently it is the 4th largest glacier in North America and the largest glacier in the world that is accessible by road… if you call that goat track a road!
After getting my picture taken at the top, a man in a wheelchair directed me another 7 miles further into the mountains to see a complete train car that had been abandoned inside a tunnel. I headed off with the intent on taking some nice pics but about 3 miles in, my transmission got stuck in 2nd gear. For some reason it wouldn’t go into neutral or 1st. A bit of cursing and eventual kicking got the gears to change into 1st and second but then it wouldn’t change into 3rd or higher. CRAP!!! A few more curses and kicks and it seemed back to normal. However, it was decision time… on a faulty bike, travel even deeper into the wilderness where nobody ever goes or turn around. Disappointed, I turned around showing that even I have a small amount of brains.
I headed back to town and an hour later I am having lunch and a beer in a local joint in Hyder. I started a conversation with a local lady who tells me that she moved to Hyder 22 years ago for a “simpler” way of life. What is simple about a town that gets 40 feet of snow each winter and has one full time employment position… that being the postmaster?
I finished my second beer and headed back to Fish Creek to see if the bears would return. Two more hours and I was able to catch a fleeting glimpse of a black bear catching a fish for her cubs… disappointing to say the least. I gave up for the evening but as I made my way back to my bike who comes driving along the road but Bill and Sherry. Great to see them again and we went to the famous Alaska Bus for dinner. Basically, it is an old school bus that has been turned into a restaurant and the husband of the woman who owns it catches the fish fresh that day. The halibut was excellent!
I headed back through customs with the intent on returning on Sunday morning to see if I could spot any more bears.
Bright and early on Sunday, I checked out of my motel and headed back to Fish Creek. I got there about 7am and waited until 9 before giving up. I could hear the bear cubs whining in the surrounding forest but I couldn’t wait until they came down… could be hours and I had a 7 hour ride to Prince George to do. I said farewell to Bill and Sherry who were also waiting on the bears and headed out.
The seven hour drive gave me a lot of time to think about my feeling of being overwhelmed the previous morning and by the time I reached Prince George, my plans had changed drastically!
The trip to Salmon Glacier