Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Alaska Day 67-68-69

Friday July 21, 2006 Eastman Creek Rest Area Cassiar Highway BC to Hyder Alaska Log 160 Miles plus 65 miles for Jeep road at Hyder.
Scenic vista overload today. The last 150 miles of the Cassiar Highway more than offset the first 200 miles of rough and broken road. What fantastic views! Even with the low overcast day, we had great scenery. Breaks in the clouds gave us a sneak preview of what was to come.

At Camp Run-a-Muck where we stopped for the night, we were given a map and info brochure on Fish Creek Bear Watch and Salmon Glacier, and we headed up Salmon River Road with anticipation. It was too early for the bear fishing, so we drove north. Salmon Glacier is the fifth largest in Canada and seemed to go on forever, with its two toes. The dark edges on either side that curves along with it are moraines, which are formed with silt being carried along. On the far side, as we drove past, we saw crevices, some of which were filled with snow. Then we saw blocks of ice and the remnant of a pond that nine days earlier was quite large, but drained when some ice blocks broke away. Keith Scott from New Brunswick, author and photographer, told us we could drive a maintained road for seven more miles and see the Berendon Glacier, which seemed to be formed from two split sources. Both were beautifully blue!

Along the way we saw a few eagles, and at one point when Wilma had stepped out of the jeep to film, a marmot whistled at her to move along. So she turned around and videod him. Back to Fish Creek to wait for the bear fishing, and we enjoyed seeing a few salmon making their nests for spawning. All of a sudden there was the grizzly! It was a young one, who was not skilled in fishing yet, and put on quite a show while he dipped for fish and ran down the middle of the creek. What a time to run out of battery in both cameras!

At 9:00 P we go back with good batteries and stay until the Rangers close the area at 10 P. On the mile long drive back to the RV park, we become part of a traffic jam, as someone sees a black bear chowing down on fish in a wide, shallow place in Salmon River, where we have to peer through some brush. We stay a few minutes just enjoying his activity and are able to get a zoomed photo. What a thrill!

Roxie, just so you will know, we took the bear spray with us everywhere we went the entire time we were in Hyder -- so did almost everyone else! -- and we were glad we did.

Pictures are here.

Waldog, Willie and Jake

Saturday July 22, 2006 Hyder AK to Prince George BC Log 438 Miles
Up early in the morning to head back to Fish Creek for bear viewing, Herb walks Jake in the campground, but comes back to the RV for a Necessary Bag, and tells Jake to sit obediently by the steps. Wilma happens to glance to the front windshield and sees something black about two camp sites over by the edge of the woods. Coal black. There is no human clothing that black. She knows what it is! Where is that fully charged camera???

We head down to Fish Creek, but the salmon are few this morning and apparently the bears are resting. We decide to leave Hyder and head farther south, totally happy with having seen bears a number of times, only to see the top of a black bear's head in the bushes by the roadside, and then another as we traveled on the highway back in BC. Mission accomplished!

As we got farther south and west the countryside became more flat, with rolling hills, farmland, and forest products industries. Not the same scenery as we had been having, but pleasant to the eye. Disturbing was the number of dead trees -- sometimes two or three, sometimes total hillsides -- that may have become infested with pine bark beetle.

We are stopped by a flagger with her sign out saying accident scene. She tells us it will be a wait while they try to upright a motorhome that appears to have run off the road. They tried for about 30 or 40 minutes while we are there without success. They finally took a break and let us pass. It was 90 degrees F ambient temp. When we stopped for the night at Wal-mart the low temp was 70. What is happening here? We awake in the middle of the night and it is DARK. We have not seen darkness since we left High River Alberta nearly two months ago. Wilma said she was afraid of the dark.<grin>.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

Sunday July 23, 2006 Prince George BC to Columbia Icefields Jasper Park, Alberta Log 306 Miles

Climbing a steep grade yesterday we notice the low coolant warning came on. It went right back off when we attained the grade. So Herb checked the coolant and found that it was up to level so must have just been the angle of climb for the sensor. Herb cleaned about a quarter cup of dirt from the the new air filter, we should not have to replace it again this trip. A check of the oil level and tires and we are ready to roll.

Leaving Prince George, we cross the Fraser river, one of several crossings we will make today as we travel along its length to its head waters near the Jasper Icefields Parkway. Michner's fictional Englishmen in his novel "Journey" traveled the Fraser after starting to the Klondike from Edmonton. We enter the Jasper National Park on the East Yellowhead Highway. Our fee is $15.30 cdn. At the park highway intersection, we turn north into the historic town of Jasper for diesel. Very crowded, very congested and tight turns to get to the pumps. Wilma gets down from the coach and locates the diesel lanes while Herb threads through the obstacles.

Lunch is at Slim Creek Rest Area along the Fraser River, where Jake plays retrieve the stick in the river, and burns off some energy. Then burns more as he dries off. Interpretive panels tell of the mountain pine beetle infestation, and that it is a natural order of things, but currently it is considered a massive epidemic. The forest industry does salvage much of the timber by harvesting it as soon as it dies, then seedlings are planted to renew the forest. Driving on, we see a new-to-us purple flower and cotton grass along the highway.

We leave the rolling hills and haymeadows to enter the Canadian Rockies and unbelievable mountains again. We see a white mountain goat near the highway, and Herb gets a quick glimpse of a moose in a pond out the side window.

We arrive at the large rv parking lot in view of the glaciers at Columbia Icefields. The park allows overflow dry camping here. We circle the lot until we find a spot that is level enough for us to set up and we are home. Our backyard has a fantastic view tonight.

Pictures are here.

Walldog, Willie and Jake

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