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2017 Happy Trails - Week 12

August 6 thru August 12, Dease Lake, Telegraph Creek, and Stewart, BC; Hyder, AK

Sunday, August 6

Drove 154 miles.

Route: Alaska Highway one half mile to the turn off for Highway 37, the Cassiar Highway south to Dease Lake, BC

Campground: Waters Edge Campground, Dease Lake, BC $20.00

It was a beautiful drive down the Cassiar Highway but the road was unpleasant with frost heaves, construction delays and few pulloffs. We did see a black bear though but we were moving along at a fast clip so I didn’t get a picture. I only took a few pictures of the scenery out of the window as we drove along.

Our destination was Dease Lake, a beautiful clear water lake about one third of the way from Watson Lake to our next “tourist destination”, Stewart, BC where later in the week we will have our last stop in Alaska at Hyder, AK.

Besides being a beautiful spot to camp, Dease Lake has a rich history and is the access point for Canada’s version of the Grand Canyon, which we plan to explore while here.

We haven’t had cell coverage since leaving Tagish on Saturday so we drove into the small village of Dease Lake to see if there was cell coverage there – not! However, on the way back to the campground we did spot a black bear crossing the road and because we weren’t towing at this point, we were able to stop and I took a few pictures.

The campground does not have hookups so we’re dry camping for a few days but the scenery makes it worth it. What a beautiful spot.

This is the view out our back window!

There was a path from our campsite down to the lake so we took Sunshine swimming and a short game of fetch.

Notice how clear the water is.

We also took a short hike down to the boat launch area.

We enjoyed cocktails out overlooking the lake and watched a beautiful sunset.

What an idyllic spot for a campground.

Monday, August 7

Drove 157 miles.

Route: Dease Lake to Telegraph Creek and back

Campground: Waters Edge Campground, Dease Lake, BC $20.00

Today’s drive was the most adventuresome drive we’ve had this summer. We decided to explore the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River with a drive along Telegraph Creek Road, the first (and last) road built into this remote area of northern British Columbia.

And I thought the Top of the World Highway when we drove from Alaska into the Yukon was something! It doesn’t compare in sheer frightfulness. Telegraph Creek Road is a narrow, gravel road with several steep switchbacks that are only one lane wide – you cannot see if anything is coming in the other direction and there are no guardrails. There were steep 18 percent downgrades with curves and another 20 percent downgrade with switchbacks that was over a half mile long! I don’t know how we made it the entire 70 mile length (and back) without incident. Fools’ luck I guess.

The scenery was spectacular though and almost made the torturous drive worth it as we viewed the Tuya River Valley, the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River and the Tahltan River Valley.

Believe it or not this route was key to the successful completion of the Alaska Highway back in 1942. First off the Stikine River is navigable and the settlement of Telegraph Creek was the endpoint for steam wheelers.


There was already a trail leading from the settlement of Telegraph Creek to Dease Lake because of the Cassiar Gold Rush of 1872 to 1880. It brought prospectors to the Dease Lake area in search of fortune and so in 1874 William Moore, following an old Indian trail, cut a trail from the community of Telegraph Creek on the Stikine River to the gold rush settlement on Dease Lake. It served as a supply route for the prospectors. The later Klondike Gold Rush in 1897 to 1898 also made use of it as an access route.

In 1922 a dirt road was built following along the path of the trail. Cut forward now to World War II when the US began its Alaska Highway project. If you remember from my earlier entries, the Alaska Highway was built with two teams, one building from the south and another from the north. The northern team had supplies ferried up the Stikine River to Telegraph Creek; then trucked overland on the tortuous route to Dease Lake. From there the supplies were taken north by boat on Dease Lake and then Liard River to Watson Lake for construction of an airport and also the Alaska Highway. Unbelievable.

Pictures from our drive along Telegraph Creek Road:
Tuya River Valley as seen at our first pullout.

Path we hiked to the Overlook – in the middle of bear country without any bear spray!

Mount Edziza off in the distance; it was a hazy day so visibility was limited.

Views from the second pullout.

Tuya River

When we were stopped at an overlook we noticed this pile of scat which we had also seen on the road a number of times as we were driving along. We were wondering what animal it could be so I took a picture thinking we could google it.

Then we rounded a curve. Wild Horses! LOL Who would imagine they would live up here?

Notice the road. Yikes.

Sunshine was very excited.

Notice the bear bell on the one horse. Maybe they're not wild after all.

Beautiful views. Felt like we could see to the end of the earth.

Sunshine in the Aspen Grove. (Not the dog; the real sun.)

Abandoned cabin

Stikine River Canyon

Note the road – two way but only a single lane and no guard rails!

We pulled off the road here where the Tahltan River comes into the Stikine River and saw an Indian “set-netting”. I had read all about this manner of fishing in the Dana Stabenow books I’ve been reading and was so excited to actually come across one in person!




One of the attractions that draws many people to drive out this tortuous road is The Eagle. In the right lighting you see an eagle with its wings fully spread on the cliff face across from where the Indian was set-netting. We could make it out but the lighting wasn’t right for capturing it in a photo. (Believe me, I’m not driving out this road again to give another try!)

Tahltan River

Stick Barn?

Stikine River; Fish Camp can be seen below as we climb the mountain on the other side of the Tahltan River.

At this point the road begins its path through a lava bed on a narrow promontory no more than a 100 feet wide at some points. It drops off 400 feet on each side! And you can see how narrow it is! Thank goodness no other vehicle came while we were stopped there for me to take a few pictures. It was dizzying!

Stikine River Canyon on the right side of the truck. Tahltan River Canyon on the left side of the truck. Road over lava bed in the center.

On the return drive we stopped for a late picnic lunch at the Stikine River Canyon Overlook.

Sprocket and Sunshine – “Where’s our picnic lunch?”

Sprocket, Sunshine and Tim – On the edge!

Interesting hillside at the Overlook

Finally back at the campground we enjoyed a spectacular sunset over Dease Lake. And yes, we did have well deserved cocktails!

Tuesday, August 8

Drove 219 miles.

Route: South on the Cassiar Highway to Meziadin Junction and into the Provincial Park, then back to the highway turnout

Campground: Hannah Creek North Bridge turnout, Meziadin Junction, BC $0.00

When we woke up this morning the lake was smooth as glass. Absolutely stunning.

We got up early enough to do our WOD 8.2 this morning before packing up to trek on down the road. What a beautiful spot to do a workout!


Just as we were leaving the campground we saw this beautiful red fox. He actually posed for pictures. LOL

Red Fox

The first half of the drive today was a continuance of yesterday with rough roads and few stopping points but the scenery was beautiful and the second half of the drive was on good road. We were expecting to go around half the distance to Stewart today but we were also wanting to stop for the night somewhere that had cell coverage as we are travelling by ourselves now and Tim likes to text and let some folks know where we are as we travel from spot to spot (just in case someone needs to put out a “silver alert” on us – LOL).

Late in the afternoon we had quite a surprise. We saw a wolf! The first two photos I took through the windshield because I was sure he was going to run off and I would miss getting a shot. But then he came along the bank by where the truck was and he was close enough that I was able to actually get a few excellent photos!

What a beautiful creature!

He wasn’t too disturbed by our presence because for a few minutes he laid down in the grass observing us.

After a short rest he decided to move along.

We checked for cell coverage at each village we came to along the Cassiar Highway, 40 Mile Flats, Iskut, Tatogga, Bob Quinn Lake, and Bell II without luck. So we decided we might as well continue on to the Meziadin Junction where we turn off Cassiar Highway. There is a Provincial Park there. It was getting late when we got there and – they were full!

We ended up having to dry camp yet another night with no cell coverage, this time by the side of the road at the Hannah Creek North Bridge turnout.

We had eaten dinner at the last place we stopped which was a very nice lodge at Bell II so I didn’t have to cook dinner, thankfully.

Wednesday, August 9

Drove 74 miles.

Route: Cassiar Highway south from the Hannah Creek North Bridge turnout to the Meziadin Junction then west on 37A, Glacier Highway to the campground in Stewart, BC; from Stewart into Hyder, AK and back.

Campground: Bear River RV Park, Stewart, BC $40.60

There wasn’t much packing up to do as we had left the trailer connected to the truck last night in case the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) showed up and made us move. So we got a nice early start. We hadn’t gone that far when we came to a Mama Black Bear with her two cubs crossing the road.

Too cute, but when she got to the side she stopped and gave us “the look”! Wisely I had not gotten out of the truck to take pictures.

We drove into Stewart, BC to the Bear River RV Park where they have full hookup and WIRELESS access too. Finally!

We stopped for pictures when we came to Bear Glacier.

After getting settled at the campground we decided to go into Stewart, BC to stop by the Visitor’s Center and to have a little lunch. We ate sandwiches at the Temptations Bakery. While we were sitting there eating a huge loaf of Sourdough bread jumped right off the shelf next to us! I said I thought it must want to come home with us and everyone in the bakery laughed.

One of the things we learned at the Visitor’s Center in Stewart, BC is that Hyder, AK is famous for its bear watching and it is only 2 miles down the road. They have a long raised boardwalk that is relatively safe from the bears and it overlooks a creek where the salmon come to spawn. The first three weeks in August are the height of their bear watching season so our timing is perfect!

We were told that any time after 6:00pm in the evening or very early in the morning is the best time to see the bears so we decided to go into Hyder, AK for dinner first and for what will probably be our last Alaskan Amber of the trip, and then drive out to the viewing site. We ate at the Glacier Inn and we highly recommend the beer battered halibut they serve. I hope when I get home I can replicate their recipe with all the halibut filets we have waiting for us there.

While eating at the bar we met a nice couple who gave us the scoop about the bear watching, and about the mosquitos. They are particularly ferocious this time of year – the mosquitos, not the bears. The folks were insistent that we could not really enjoy watching the bears if we didn’t have insect repellent. We of course had left it in the trailer and so were going to have to go back through Customs to Stewart (in British Columbia, Canada) to get it. They insisted on giving us theirs! What nice people.

The bear watching excursion did not disappoint.

Black Bears and Grizzly Bear at Fish Creek just north of Hyder, AK.

Fish Creek (note salmon in the water)

First to appear was a single Black Bear. We watched him wander down the creek right past us and into the water where he caught a salmon; then he disappeared with it into the forest.

Next on the scene was a Mama Black Bear and her cub. They were so cute!

I think Mama Bear was teaching the cub to fish for salmon when all of a sudden we heard snorting and huffing. Mama bear turned to look.

It was a huge Grizzly Bear and it chased the Black Bear and her cub right up a tree! Unbelievable! I was just glad they escaped. That would have been horrible to watch if the Grizzly had caught the cub.

Then the Grizzly lost interest in them and went on down the creek to fish.

We watched the Grizzly fishing and eating, then fishing and then eating, etc. for over half an hour. He really seemed to be enjoying himself in the water, almost as though he was playing with the fish.

Each time he would catch one he would take it to the bank and sit down and eat it.

“Damn, those mosquitos!”

Meanwhile, Mama Bear and Baby Bear are relaxing as best they can in the tree.

I was afraid they were waiting for someone to call the fire department for help, when they finally decided it was safe to come down out of the tree.

The Grizzly downstream heard them and started running upstream after them.

But I guess his belly was full enough of salmon he thought better of it because he stopped and went into the forest.

After the Grizzly left, another Black Bear showed up. This one appeared to have been wounded on the back. Probably that nasty Grizzly! He was thirsty but not that interested in catching salmon. Probably had already had dinner.


He did have some berries for dessert though.

The scenery was beautiful as we walked along the raised boardwalk at the Fish Creek Bear Watch here in Hyder, AK.

Thursday, August 10

Drove 8 miles.


Campground: Bear River RV Park, Stewart, BC $40.60

We relaxed at the campground today; I backed up all of our photos onto a flash drive and freed up some disk space on the hard drive. We even found time to do our WOD 8.3 outside.

Our campsite at Bear River RV Park

But the mosquitos are horrible so we didn’t get to relax outside even though the weather was wonderful. We’ve had to load up on the Off Insect Repellant.

After dinner we decided to take the dogs into town for ice cream. At the small city park where we were having our ice cream and walking along the city park boardwalk I swatted at a mosquito on my leg, tripped over the camera strap, and can you believe it (Wait! Don’t answer that.) I dropped and broke my brand new camera. Aghhh! Luckily I bought the insurance plan but here we are out in the middle of British Columbia with no Best Buy in a thousand miles. Sooo, this may be it for the pictures this trip. I’m just no good at taking pictures with my iPhone.

Friday, August 11

Drove 57 miles.

Route: Into Hyder, AK on Highway 37A and then up to Salmon Glacier on Glacier Road; return to campground in Stewart, BC

Campground: Bear River RV Park, Stewart, BC $40.60

Today’s agenda included a drive into Hyder, AK and beyond to the Salmon Glacier. We were totally uninformed when we started out, thinking it was just a few miles beyond Hyder. We thought we would make a quick trip out to the glacier and then spend the afternoon at the Stewart Museum. Wrong!

It was very slow going on a dirt road. Not gravel, dirt! The dust was unbelievable. All of the bushes and tree tops along the side of the windy mountain road were white from the dust. And there was a good deal of tourist traffic so LOTS of dust.

But the glacier was spectacular. This was the most clearly visible and the largest one that we’ve seen to date (on this trip anyway).
Salmon Glacier in the Coast Mountains on the “Panhandle”, the 900 km long coastal strip of Alaska.

First view of Salmon Glacier

The “Toe” of Salmon Glacier

Large central Lateral Moraine of Salmon Glacier (the dark stripe down the middle)

Views from the Summit

Summit Lake located at the northern edge of Salmon Glacier (off to the right in the picture)

Every year around mid-July the lake breaks an ice dam and then flows under the glacier into the Salmon River. This causes the river to rise approximately 4 to 5 feet for several days. It leaves behind huge chunks of ice where the lake had been as seen in my picture.

We stopped at the Glacier Hotel Bar for a couple of Alaska Ambers to reward ourselves for surviving yet another adventurous ride.

Afterward we drove through Customs yet again and returned to Stewart where we stopped in the Museum and watched an interesting movie recounting the boom and bust history of Stewart and the surrounding area. People who settled this northern country were hardy folks, that’s for sure.

Saturday, August 12

Drove 8 miles.

Route: Into the town of Stewart and back to the campground

Campground: Bear River RV Park, Stewart, BC $40.60

We decided to relax in Stewart at the beautiful Bear River RV Park for another day because Stewart is having their annual Bear Arts Festival.
I paid some bills while Tim drove into town and picked up another flash drive for me to back up all our photos from this trip. I sorted through this week’s photos (and cried for knowing I can’t take any more beautiful pictures now that my camera is wrecked.)

After that chore was done we went into Stewart and walked around town to the shops which were all open for the Bear Festival.

We ate Burgers cooked on an outdoor grill and delicious Perrogies from the Festival food court and looked at all their displays. Tim bought a Bear DVD made by a local fellow for his Aunt Isabelle and I bought some Fireweed Jelly. (Made from those purple flowers I’ve been taking pictures of everywhere.)

It was a pleasant end to a very eventful and adventuresome week.

Posted by JudyandTim2015 10:47

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