September 7, 2008

Hidden Hyder (Alaska)

After a few hundred miles through Canada, we pop across one of the smallest. most remote border crossings in the North into the small hideaway of Hyder. It's late afternoon, chilly, we're near the water, what there is of a town appears deserted, but we amble along muddy, pot-holed streets and find a small RV park behind the only local bar. Though sparce with no hookups or other guests, the view out our back door is actually pretty nice.

The attraction....Fish Creek! One of the best places in Alaska to see bears. So, next morning off we go, noticing a few of the unique old buildings & signs heading north along the Salmon River.

A small interpretive area informs us of the story of the local bears, and how the Park Service built the long, protected (well somewhat) catwalks for tourist to enjoy an overhead view of the magnificant creatures feeding below.

It wasn't long before some of the "locals" started showing up. This particular "mom" had actually learned to hunt underwater, an extrememly unique trait according to the rangers.
With her skill and years of experience, it wasn't long before a meal was captured.

After a couple of hours of bear viewing, we start the twenty mile drive northward up the River valley to see Salmon Glacier, the most accessible view of a glacier in North America. The winding road was built buy the gold mining interest which flourished here in the twenties. As we continue to ascend, we get our first view of the Glacier, only to realize later that is is actually the southern finger of the massive iceway.

After more careful driving around muddy hairpin curves we reach the overlook, where this backdrop is a stunning setting for a relaxing picnic lunch!
Kim takes a short hike up the mountain on the opposite side, fascinated by the mixture of rich color & textures.
We decide to explore farther north, and it isn't too long before evidence of active mining appears...yes, there is still gold to be found in "them there hills"!
We're greeted soon by a curious marmot, who allowed me to get this nice closeup...I think he was fascinated by the sparkle of my lens...what a great pose. Around the next bend is more evidence of past mining, as we find an open tunnel to explore.

Shortly before turning back, we find a series of "mini-glaciers", along a unique stretch of the upper valley that resembled a moonscape. Later in the afternoon, we're treated to those saturated afternoon sun colors, a great prize to end an awesome day above the glacier!

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