That’s right! We zipped in and we zipped out of the self-proclaimed friendliest ghost town in Alaska. Hyder is a town of only 100 residents and many of them are only seasonal. Tiny little place, but it has all the basics, including some mighty friendly folks.
Drop Dead Gorgeous Drive
To get to Hyder, AK, you drive a stretch of road in British Columbia that is truly stunning. We were lucky enough to make the trip on a dazzling bright blue day. We both agreed that this would be good enough to call our Epic Journey a success. Fortunately we’re just getting started. The pictures don’t do justice to the views around every corner.
We saw our first bears on the way to Hyder and were soooo very excited. Jackson has a total fit when he sees them and barks like crazy. I thought he was going to get up on the dash for one of them. From then on we’ve been hyper-vigilant watching for bears. We’re seeing all kinds now – tree bears, rock bears, drain pipe bears. There was this one sign that we swore was a bear, until we got closer. That was the one that had Jackson all worked up.
Hyder has one open campground, or so we thought. Camp Run-A-Muck looks like the rest of the place – deserted for the most part. Feeling smug about our drive up with no reservation success, we pulled in here and found the big “sorry we’re closed” sign. And no other campers in sight.
Sorry – we’re closed!
Fortunately a guy sitting in his van saw us drive by. No mistaking where we’d be going in our giant motorhome towing a car. He followed us and says he knows the guy running the place. He’ll just go right over to his house and tell him we’re here. Just when we were to the “uh oh, now what” point, Doyle drives up. He says he’s kinda closed and I say can you be kinda open? Of course the good thing is the campgrounds seem to try hard not to turn people away. This was no exception. They are kinda open and we have the pick of the spots.
Does it get any better than this? Well, yes, but we’re pretty happy right about now.
And Jackson? He made a new friend. Mud was a very enthusiastic host and was hard to resist. Doyle says he was a rescue, living with a family member, who said if he chased the chickens one more time, his name would be Mud. You know how this turns out and now he lives with Doyle.
What to do?
Hyder is known for two things – bear and glacier viewing. We were able to see the Bear Glacier on the way in and out, but not the famous Salmon Glacier about 21 miles out of town. We drove our little Bitsy as far as we could go, 12.5 miles, until we got to the part of the road still blocked by snow. It is May mind you! We were told not to push it in that little car, especially with no cell service and an obvious avalanche/mud slide area that we picked our way through. So no glacier, but fantastic views and a story to tell.
Bear Glacier will have to do this trip. A pic on the way in with the bright sunny day and a pic on the way out with some clouds.
Bear viewing is the other hot ticket in town. There’s a great wooden viewing walk-way that the park service built to keep the looky-lous safe while photographing grizzlies and black bears fishing for salmon. Of course, that happens for the most part in July and we’re a tad early. Good news – the platform is free this time of year since mostly nothing is stirring, and one fine bear obliged and showed up for the picture-taking session.
Mr. Black Bear is chowing down and they chew with their mouth way open. We were so quiet until he backs up to the river to poop. I laugh out loud and he turns to see who’s watching. He walks off, in a huff it seems.
Seeing the Other Sights
The walk down the road from the campground is just as interesting as the drive up the mountain. We marvel at the river with the glacier melt. It’s old-fashioned coke bottle green. Hard to capture in photos, but I tried my best.
We also see a river otter scooting upstream. He was a quick little guy and pics were blurry.
Doyle also told us that the Tidal Basin has some good views and we’d possibly pick up some cell service scamming off the Canadian side of the border.
We had to drive through an area that looked like where all the old mechanical things go to die. Abandoned cars, trailers, fuel tanks, you name it. Seriously, that seems to be the way up here. Drive it off into the woods and wish it well. But, if you work your way through, the views are worth it. So glad we have Bitsy to get to these out of the way places.
Turned out to be my favorite shot of this drive. The tidal range is huge here, not to mention the wild rushing water from the snow melt down the mountains. Apparently the tree debris gets washed down and left in the marshy areas. This old man definitely marks the spot. Can’t you just smell that salt air? It was a delightful combination with the snow-capped mountains and squishy tidal mud.
And yes, we did scam a little cell action. I got a text from Ethan while we were here and was able to send him one back. Ah, civilization is a good thing. We were also fortunate that the forestry guy/librarian/road-grader/wi-fi hooker upper came by the campground before we left. We have internet for a brief moment in time! It seems all the folks around here wear multiple hats to get things done. Our campground manager is also the pastor at the Baptist Church next door.
Poop Visits Alaska!
We haven’t forgotten about Poop. He’s been sleeping since Oregon, but I rousted him out to prove he was in Alaska.
He sneezed and laughed all the way to the PO. Which, buy the way, was a whole quarter mile from the campground, if that.
We also finally get to meet our new RVillage friends, Cheryl & David, who are from Texas. Dining options are slim and we eat at the one restaurant open that day. Looks suspiciously like a dive bar, but when in Rome…. Fun time getting to know them and swapping Alaska trip stories and we will intersect again down the road.
Epic Journey Part 3
For those of you following along with the itinerary, we will be zigging and zagging yet again. Doyle from Run-A-Muck recommended the ferry from Skagway to Haines. We looked it up with our new-found internet and determined it to be affordable even taking our whole house, and fits our timeline pretty well. It allows us to intersect with a craft beer festival in Haines (woo-hoo!) and see a city we thought we’d have to miss. But, we’ve decided that it doesn’t make sense to head to Whitehorse after that, so we’ll save that stop for the way out. Suffice it say, we’re now officially in Part 3 which includes one small stop back in the Yukon, but the rest in Alaska until sometime in August.
Also for those keeping track, the wedding ring left the finger once more. Pat found it on the ground outside the car. Still got it though.
Next up, Yukon Territory and land of no internet, cable, cell service and some pretty rough roads. See you on the way!