May 6th
May 7th

May 6th

We had a different type of challenge last night, finding a campsite with no black bears and safely out of the avalanche areas.  The drive into Stewart and Hyder is through a narrow canyon with mountain tops reaching nearly three thousand feet above the road.  

Driving the road we saw piles of snow at the foot of the mountains, evidence of recent avalanches.  We got a great view of our first big glacier, Bear Glacier.  We stopped to look and found it kind of funny that the glacier could not calve (the edges break off) as the lake it enters was frozen solid.  However, as we watched and listened, we could hear the glacier groan and crack as it crumbled onto the frozen lake surface.  Behind us, the mountain was dropping small stones and we hurriedly drove off just in case a rock fall might happen.  We also stopped to view two "hanging" glaciers.  These are glaciers that come a short ways down the mountains have the appearance of "hanging" from the top.  All the glaciers we saw were beautiful blue ice.

Along the Stewart/Cassiar Highway, we made stops in three First Nation villages of the Gitksan people.  The villages have the largest concentration of Totems (totem poles) in British Columbia.  The carvings were amazing and very skillful.  Most of the poles have no color as it was discovered that paint would seal in moisture and cause the Totems to rot.

Totem.jpg (78451 bytes)

Hyder.jpg (92065 bytes)

Stewart and Hyder are just small reflections of their boom town images.  They sprang up on the grounds of native villages to support the miners that sought riches in the nearby mountains.  After the beautiful ride into town, the towns themselves were a bit anticlimactic.

Maybe because the season is still early and the towns are still shaking off the winter doldrums.  North of the towns there is a area called Fish Creek where it is possible to view bears and eagles as they feed on the spawning salmon.  There is another glacier, Salmon Glacier which we had hoped to view, unfortunately there was a late storm and the roads are impassible  - even for our expedition vehicle.

May 7th

On our way out of Stewart and Hyder we stopped again at Bear Glacier to view it in the morning light.  What a gorgeous sight!  We could see the blue glacial ice along the face of the glacier. Bear Glacier.jpg (71698 bytes)

Back on the road to the Yukon, we were constantly passing signs that cautioned against stopping along the road due to the risk of avalanches.  Although we didn't see any avalanches in action, we did see evidence of them in the many debris piles shaped like fans at the bottom of steep chutes.  The power of all that moving snow is awesome.  

The road we have been following in B.C. is the Cassiar Highway.  It follows the route used by many of the miners during various "gold rushes".  This was the poor man's route to the gold fields in the Klondike - although few successfully navigated it and even less "got rich quick".


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