Tuesday, August 7, 2012
SKAGWAY TO HYDER
I am so far behind with writing this blog and I really don’t like to write from memory. At this point, I’m having trouble remembering where we were on which date. We have either not had electric so that I can keep my laptop charged or we have not had internet access to post what I have written. I think from this point on we should be OK with both.
We spent two days in Skagway and although the drive down to the town was really pretty, Skagway is simply a stop for the cruise ships. Each of the two days we were there, there were 4 or 5 ships in port. As soon as they arrive, there is a parade of people, buses, vans and other forms of transport as the tourists make their way to the shopping area or head out on various day trips. I have never seen so many jewelry stores in such a small area. Most of the shops open when the ships come in and then close when they are out of port. I would recommend a trip to Skagway but be prepared for the crowds. Two days was plenty enough for me.
We left Skagway on 8/2, headed toward Hyder, AK which is known as one of *the* places where you are likely to see bears. There is a viewing platform along a creek where the bears come to feed on the salmon, especially during July and August.
One thing that you learn when in Alaska, YT or BC is that there are very few direct routes to any place. In fact, there are very few routes of any kind. In other words, you do a lot of driving. To get to Hyder, we drove the same scenic highway 2 that we had taken to get into Skagway, except that we did not have to go all the way back to Whitehorse, YT to get to the Alaska Highway. Instead, we took Highway 8 which cut off quite a few miles. Once we got on the AH, we drove toward Watson Lake, YT, cutting down on the Cassier Highway to eventually get to Hyder. To get to Hyder, we left Alaska, entered YT, on into BC and back into Alaska.
One of the highlights of this drive was Jade City which had a factory store where they have huge amounts of jade and all kinds of jade products. It is my understanding that a large amount of the world’s jade comes from the surrounding area. It was a nice break and we enjoyed seeing all the different jade products and watching a cutting demonstration.
This drive took us over two days. The road was under construction most of the way and there was very little traffic with very few services. We ended up staying one night at a provincial park and one night at Bell Lodge 2 RV park. Bell Lodge 2 is a resort with a nice restaurant, cabins and other forms of lodging. It was quite a surprise to find such a nice place in the middle of nowhere. They even had an exercise room and since it was raining, we took advantage of that. I was excited when I saw they had a treadmill, but then I was not so happy when it kept stopping and I would have to get off and reset the breaker to get it going again. After about 3 miles of running and 4-5 stops, I gave up.
I later found out that Bell Lodge 2 is a popular helicopter ski area. One would have to have big bucks to even get here during the winter. I doubt that many people would drive since it would take forever so they must fly into one of the small landing strips.
Hyder is another one of those places where you have to take a side road and then backtrack to the main road. The side road was called “The Glacier Highway” and it lived up to its name.
Once we got to Hyder and found a campground, we headed to the bear viewing platform. We learned that the best time to see the bears was between 6-8 am and again at 6-10 pm so we decided to return later in the day. In the meantime, we drove back to Stewart, BC (just a couple of miles) where we found a bakery and indulged in our usual afternoon snack and coffee. We planned to workout after that, but it continued to rain and most of the roads were quite muddy. We also realized we would not have enough time to run and then eat dinner before going back to see the bears. At least that’s my excuse for not running.
We drove back to the viewing platform, arriving at about 5:45 pm and sure enough, we had missed seeing a sow and cubs that had been feeding for about 30 minutes. We decided to just be patient and we were rewarded with seeing a large grizzly who suddenly appeared several hundred yards upstream. He simply walked through the water directly in front of us and up an embankment, onto the road and then into the woods. My pictures are not that good, but you can get the general idea of his beauty and size.
At this point, I guess we can say that we are now headed home. I have no idea how long it will take to get there and we have not decided on a route. We are approaching 10,000 miles on the truck so we will have to find a Toyota dealer so we can get it serviced.