STEWART & HYDER
14 september through 16 september
We drive North through the Nisga'a Memorial Lava Bed Provincial Park. Our destination is Hyder in the utmost South of Alaska. We hope to see some more grizzly's here although it is no longer the season for that. Past Meziadin Junction we enter the magnificent glacier world. After we pass Bear Glacier we finally reach the twin towns Stewart and Hyder. Even the tarred road ends in Hyder where the "wild west" begins. The horses are replaced by cars but for the rest it has still the atmosphere of the old cowboy towns (at least that is how we imagine it).
We stay at the Sealaska Inn. It is somewhat ramshackle but fits perfectly into the atmosphere of this town. Including the terrible smell of fish in the room. But of course we come here because of the famous Fish Creek that has the largest salmon in the world. Most bears have left by now but some stayed around: a grizzly mother with two cubs, a black bear mother with two cubs and a male black bear.
The next couple of days we will see them regularly. The best experience is that the two grizzly cubs get swimming lessons from their mom. It is a ritual that lasts for an hour and ends when it is already dark. Mom slowly swims away from her cubs and urges them to follow her. They don't dare and stay on shore as long as they can but finally they have to cross the water by which they produce frightened sounds.
The black bear took care of her cubs in a different manner. When she perceived the male she chased her cubs into a tree and patrolled under it until the danger was gone.
The other attraction of Hyder are its glaciers. A (bad) road runs to Salmon Glacier but once you reach it you can drive all the way up. The view up there is spectacular.
After a couple of days we have to say goodbye to the bears. We think that we won't be seeing any grizzly's from now. But we are extremely lucky. On the way back to Meziadin Junction we see two grizzly's crossing the road. They vanish into the bushes immediately. But we are experienced by now and know what to look for. We see a shallow creek teeming with the brightest red salmon you can imagine. Besides we see a small beach with rotting salmon and a perfect place to take our position
We wait for about fifteen minutes and than the two bears come out again. It appears to be a mother and cub. They stay half an hour to fish without letting us distract them. And all this under our nose. And even better: there are no other people around.
We end this day with a visit to 'Ksan Indian Village. Here they build traditional Indian houses and totem poles. You can enter the houses with a guide and learn about the old traditions. It is very interesting and astonishing that the old customs are still very modern. They are just scientifically substantiated right now. In the early days they ran through the forest to "clear the mind". Now we go to the gym. And we have learned to "read" a totem pole which is also fun.
Next: Rocky Mountains