Rise and Shine. We’ve got a lot of miles ahead of us today, so we were up at 5am for a quick shower, and on the road at 6am. Our AirBNB host was not awake, so we never did get to meet him, but the place was decent and at $40 Canadian, we certainly had no complaints!
Today’s ride take us to Hyder Alaska. Well, actually we’ll be staying in Stewart BC, which shares a border with Hyder. Hyder is the farthest southern point of Alaska that you can drive to, and just a short ride off the Cassiar highway to get there. The temperature was 56°F, which is the warmest start so far on the trip.
The ride this day was over 430 miles, beginning with a long jaunt on the Yellowhead Highway (TransCanada 16) to its junction with BC 37, also known as the Cassiar Highway.
The highway out of Prince George was not busy at this time of day, so traffic was light, and despite a little road construction at the outset, the highway was pretty good. I did not know what to expect of the scenery on this day, and I anticipated more of the look that we had approaching Prince George – huge valley with farm lands and mixed forest. But this was a lot more like the Northeastern Minnesota. This went on for about an hour and a half. and then we got into a valley with the tall mountains on the distant sides again. I was not expecting the gorgeous views today. In fact, it was a real treat with the tall snowy peaks on the distant horizon.
We hoped to see some wildlife on this section of the trip and were encouraged by the signs that suggested we might see elk, moose and deer.
We did see a few deer in the ditch, and as we got closer to our desitnation, we started seeing bear, but none of the species shown on the sign. Oh well, we had a long ways to go and hopefully we’ll see something later.
I had read that this section of the road provided the greatest challenge for getting gasoline for the motorcycles. Our capacity was only 5 gallons, and each of us had a small plastic gas can, which we filled up on this day when we headed out. We stopped in Burns Lake BC for gas, and figured we could make it to Kitwanga for our next fuel stop and lunch. But on the way, we stopped at the tourist info center in Hazelton and got a map of the Cassiar highway and fuel stops along the road. Our fears about fuel availability were waylaid, as long as we did not pass any up.
We left the Yellowhead Highway at Kitwanga, and headed north on BC 37 towards Mezadian Junction. About 40 miles out, we came across a couple of motorcycles pulled over on the Southbound side of the road. The lead guy’s back tire had started to delaminate, and he was worried about making it to the next town. We let them know how far it was, and asked if he needed a ride or a follow along. The other guy there was going his way, and was going to follow him. It looked like if they took it slow, the tire might make it. It was a good reminder to check tires every time we stopped.
We saw several black bear on this day, it got to be so frequent that we didn’t even slow down to look. Most were younger bear, and were grazing in the ditch at the edge of the woods. We also saw a couple of small deer in the ditch, but they were not crossing. given the time of year, it was probably not realistic to expect to see a moose or elk or caribou.
We reached Meziadin Junction at about 4:30 pm under a light drizzle. This is where we take BC 37A West to Stewart and Hyder. It’s about 61 KM of the most scenic mountain highway on the trip so far. It starts with a view of Meziadin Lake and the coastal mountains on the horizon of the winding road. I wish the skies had been sunny, but even in the light sporadic rain, it was still a sight to be seen.
We reached Stewart about 6pm as we stopped several times to gawk at bear, beautiful rivers, glaciers and mountain views. A RCMP officer was fueling up his truck at the station where we got gas, and he told us about a community celebration in Stewart tonight. We thanked him and headed to check into our motel, the King Edward. It has two buildings, the main Hotel and a motel building across the street. We were in the latter. Nothing fancy, but a clean place with comfortable beds and a decent shower.
After unloading our gear into our room, we hopped back on our bikes and headed down to Hyder, AK. It is just a couple KM down the road, and we wanted to make sure we visited and have dinner at the Glacier Inn. The place was closing for a private event as we got there. We decided to head back to Stewart to eat.
There is no border crossing going into Hyder, but we had to go through Canadian Customs on our way back. It started raining when we pulled up in line behind a couple cars. We did not expect it to take very long, but the lead vehicle was a pickup with a trailer. I knew we were in for a wait when one of the Boarder Patrol guys brought a chair out for the female passenger to sit in. Fortunately, they noticed us in line, and opened up another lane, so we got through without too long of a delay.
Back in Stewart, we decided to eat in the restaurant at the King Edward Hotel. Boy, are we glad we did. We had one of the better meals of the whole trip. Great bar-b-que, chicken, vegeatbles, etc. After dinner we headed out to the park where there was a community celebration for Canada Day going on that evening. It was raining lightly, the music was canned, and the beer was mediocre, so we had only one and headed back to the hotel to sleep. Tomorrow will be another long ride to Watson Lake.