Jim and Robin are heading to Alaska! The Honda CR-V is packed and their trusty GO, L.E.O. (Low-Earth Orbiter), is ready for adventure. Follow along and get a taste of #myGOlife…Berzowski-style!
As we left Jasper National Park, on the Yellowhead Highway (16), we enjoyed (from the safety of our car) a mother black bear and her 2 cubs. For wild animals, they are so incredibly cute. 😊
The drive brought us through the Mount Robson Provincial Park. It is a beautiful mountain.
We stopped to make a picnic lunch at the Slim Creek rest area and gave a GO tutorial complete with rack cards to a few interested people.
They told us that just a few miles up the road is an Ancient Rainforest trail. We are so glad we followed their recommendation! The hike through virgin forest with giant cedar trees was awe inspiring.
Our destination for the night was the Last Spike Motel in Fort Fraser. There we connected with my sister-in-law, Mary, who is joining us for some of this journey. In addition to the motel, the town consisted of a gas station with restaurant (very good sandwiches, fries and onion rings), and of paramount importance to us: a laundry!
Stopping in the thriving metropolis of Smithers to gather groceries and ice, our perspective on ‘cities’ is really changing. It has been imperative for us to utilize the ‘Milepost Alaska Travel Planner’ to determine where we can get gas and supplies, as we are without cell service for the most part. What looks like a city on the map, may only have a population of a hundred people, and may or may not have gas or groceries!
Just after the junction of the Yellowhead and Cassiar highways, we detoured to view authentic totem poles of the Gitwangak First Nation and St, Paul’s Anglican church and bell tower (housing the original bell from 1893).
A few miles further, we visited Gitanyow, a small First Nations village with one of the largest concentrations of standing totem poles in northwestern BC.
To reach our destination of Hyder, AK, we detoured onto 37a. On the way, we stopped to observe Bear Glacier.
At Stewart, BC, we crossed the border into Hyder. It really seems to be a ghost town; maybe it wakes up some during high season.
We were the only people staying at Camp Run-a-Muck; it has nice campsites in the pine trees, potable water at each site (electric, if needed), and clean bathrooms with pay showers (3 loonies for 8 minutes of hot water – which was plenty even for dirty campers!). They had a utility sink we could use to clean our dishes, which sure beats heating up water, and they had laundry facilities, if needed. We were so happy that we were able to set up camp (GO & GOzeebo) between rain showers. The manager was intrigued by the GO, so he got the spiel along with a rack card.
We drove back across the border to Stewart to get groceries. Weird that you need your passport to buy food!!
On our first full day, we drove up Salmon River Road to the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Area, with a really nice boardwalk over Fish Creek. During the salmon run, in mid to late July, you can observe bears fattening up for the winter as the salmon travel up the Salmon River to Fish Creek. This early in the year, it is not really open – but the creek was lovely and we saw a family of Canadian geese, go figure!
Continuing up on Granduc Road, there were incredible mountain vistas until you eventually reach the pullout for the Toe of the Salmon Glacier. We find glaciers to be incredibly impressive. We thought we were going to actually be at the end of the glacier, but it was a view of the end.
We continued up the road to the Summit View (it’s gravel from miles 9-27; found we were sharing the road with some black bears. They eventually ambled off the road.
What we found at the Summit View pull off took our breath away. This massive glacier spills out of the mountain range and curves slightly to the north, ending in a few glacial lakes, and pours all the way down the valley, to where we saw the “toe”.
On the way back down the mountain, we chanced upon another black bear – they are waking up and are hungrily eating the flowers and roots produced by all the rain!
Jim and I drove back across the border for a hike up the Sluice Box/Barneys Gulch Trail. It was very pretty. Very steep at the start, but then becoming more moderate. Footing was tricky as it was quite wet, making the roots and rocks very slippery. The trail’s end afforded a view of Stewart and the termination of the Portland Canal.
After dinner, we rode our bike back across the border again, taking the wonderful boardwalk through the estuary, in order to get ice cream😊! The border agents are friendly and fun to talk to!
The camp manager told us to be on the lookout, as there had been a bear sniffing around, but we did not see it.
The next morning, we packed up and headed out for Dease Lake. We pulled into Water’s Edge Campground, located right on Dease Lake. Our site looked directly over the lake and had paths down to the shore. It is a fantastically beautiful place. However, the campground has no amenities except pit toilets (very clean with sanitizer), central water that is not officially potable and firewood for sale. If you are ok being off the grid (we brought our own water), then this place is great. Can’t get over the view that we see from the GO!
This is the lake at 11:40pm!!
The next day we took the drive down Telegraph Creek Road. It is gravel, but in general, the conditions were better than expected. For me, the highlight of the day was seeing our first moose of the trip!! The road provided pretty views of Telegraph Creek and the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River. We also drove through forest areas that were devastated from the 2018 Alkali Lake Wildfire.
Our journey terminated in the town of Telegraph Creek. It is situated right on Telegraph Creek and served as a main navigation point during the Gold Rush and a telegraph communications center.
On the trip back, we saw horses along the road (not exactly wild, but not hanging out on a ranch either) and a black bear.
After dinner, the lake called to Jim, so he donned his waders and tried his luck at fishing. The fishing was fine, but no catching! The incredible thing is, it stays light so late, that you can fish until almost 11pm!!
On the neighboring campsite, we met a wonderful couple, Alex and Caroline (and their adorable Vizsla), from Ottawa. They have been on an extended trip, ending up in the Yukon, where Alex is an official outfitter, leading hunting trips. We all compared camping stories and shared pics of the animals we’ve seen in the wild.
There was rain most of that night and all the next day ☹. But that didn’t slow us down. 😊
Mary and I drove up to Jade City; we saw where/how they slice and polish the jade – it’s mined locally. Of course, there was a gift shop with beautiful items; we helped keep the economy alive!
While we were gone, Jim went out in the kayak on Dease Lake to fish. He brought in a respectable lake trout.
After a perfect rainy-day lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup and a nap. Jim was back on the lake again.
During a lull in the rain, Mary and I took a nice walk, and then hunkered down in the CLAM with hot tea and our books. Jim came back very wet, but happy.
The next day, I got my birthday wish: no rain while we packed up camp!