Monday, January 12, 2015

Side Trip

Hyder is the easternmost town in Alaska accessible via road through Stewart BC.  Stewart, British Columbia, is 2 miles away by road via International Street. No other roads connect Hyder with the rest of Alaska. A Canada Border Services Agency customs post is located 100 yards from the town and used by all visitors and residents as it is the only road out of Hyder.

Gold and silver mining dominated the early economy. Hyder, Alaska boomed with the discovery of rich silver veins in 1918. Hyder became an access and supply point for the mines, while Stewart served as the port for Canadian mining activity, which was centred on the town of Premier, 14 miles past Hyder.  In the late 1950s, Granduc Mining Co. near Premier drove the world's largest one-end tunnel 11 miles to the Leduc Copper ore body. A large avalanche killed 28 men on February 18, 1965 when a snow slide hit the mine camp. Although this community has suffered from loss it bounced back as mining is again an active endeavor.

Fourteen miles north of Hyder, beyond where the pavement ends, is where the Grand Duc mine and Salmon Glacier are located.  The unpaved portion is washboard and you have to dodge some potholes, but clearance is not a problem. This is the only place in the Western Hemisphere where you can drive to a point above a massive glacier and look down on it. It's actually in BC, Canada, but you have to drive from Hyder, AK, to get there.

We made the drive from Hyder to the Gran Duc mine in the jeep.  The glacial views are truly spectacular as you progress up the mountain.  Eventually, you get high enough that you can look down on the moraine and up to the top. It is almost as good as flying over a glacier like Kathy did in the Alaskan interior.  The debris field represented by the moraine is very well defined and has a lot of character. It took us eight hours up and back as we kept stopping to view the different scenery. There is a lot more to see than just the Salmon Glacier, as there are several other smaller glaciers and numerous waterfalls.


Back towards town is the Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site.  Fish creek bear watching area is on Fish Creek, a spawning ground for some of the world's largest chum salmon, and is therefore very popular with the local bear.  We paid our entrance fee and watched the salmon swim and many die as this was the end of their journey after laying their eggs.  The only bear we saw here was one crossing the road before as we drove into the parking area.

We enjoyed shopping at the Boundary Gifts shop that sold homemade fudge and soaps. Behind the counter, Joy noticed several beautiful dulcimers.  The owner told us how her deceased husband had an ear for wood and how these dulcimers were made.  He could knock on trees and identify if the pitch and tone were good enough for instruments.  He had even sold trees to Martin guitars.  She played a few tunes for us and the moment was truly magical.

We also had dinner at a bar in Stewart.  The decor was interesting enough to to note.  The walls were covered with both Canadian, US, and other foreign currency, some with personal notes.  Also there is a rug with President Kennedy's picture on it hung on the wall.  The waitress was too busy to ask questions so we note it here for you to help us understand these choices.

We stayed at the Bear River RV park.  It was clean but the showers were pay showers and the wi-fi cost money after the first 1 mb.  We couldn't even check our email.  Besides we were ready to get back home to the lower forty-eight.