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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cassiar Highway – Stewart/Hyder – August 9 521 miles

I forgot to mention in my last post about Jade City located along the Cassiar Hwy.  Just the name suggests “tourist trap” but it’s a “must see” stop in the Milepost.  Anyway, I had to check out the jade. 

We learned there are several jade mines in the Cassiar mountain area that, altogether account for 90 percent of the world’s jade supply.  The store had saws set up with slices of the jade rock.  It was all very interesting.  Of course, there were endless jade articles for sale.  After more than a little prodding, I found out that the store can’t get local carvers to make the jade pieces so they have to send their jade off to China.  I was pretty sure that was the case just by the amount of articles for sale.  Still, the really nice lady assured me all items were made with their jade so I ended up with tiny butterfly earrings.

Not far from our overnight stop last night, is the turnoff to Steward/Hyder.  The route is laced with glaciers and waterfalls.  I don’t even have to say beautiful, right?  Several of the glaciers were almost to the road.  The deep canyon and fast flowing river along part of the route reminded me of Colorado. 

Stewart is at the head of the Portland Canal on the British Columbia/Alaska border.  The population of Stewart is 699 and 100 for Hyder.  The Canal is a narrow saltwater fjord about 90 miles long and is the natural boundary between Alaska and Canada.  It appears Stewart has a logging operation there.

IMG_2179 Hyder  is two miles beyond Stewart and it is hard to figure out what the 100 residents do for a living.  There are several souvenir stores, and, believe it or not, a post office.  But there are dirt streets and lots of run down buildings.



There is one very exciting thing to do in Hyder, though.  That is drive 3 miles out of town on a rough, gravel road to the Fish Creek Wildlife Viewing Area.  It’s in the Tongass National Park operated by the US Forest Service.  It is awesome.  There is a viewing platform that goes out over Fish Creek where, today anyway, chum and pink salmon were making their spawning run up the river.  As we watched the fish, here came a grizzly and her cub down the river to fish.  They spent at least 15 minutes right in front of us. 




So, here we are at a boat dock parking area at Frasier Lake on the Yellowhead Hwy.  We took the first place we could find because at 10:00 pm everything was closed.  So far four trains have gone by within 50 yards of our parking place, each one with three whistles.  Serves us right for waiting so long to find a place.

Tomorrow it will be Prince George and it is there that we will have to make a decision on what route to enter the US.  Right now we are thinking it will be at the Oregon border, through Idaho and down to Yellowstone. It’s still in negotiations, however. 

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