FirstAscent » My Journey in Alaska

The Cassiar and “border hopping”

standing in front of Bear Glacier. Stewart, BC

I was excited about today’s planned-drive because I’d finally reach the Cassiar Highway. I had been reading a lot about this area and it sounded like it had a lot of beautiful areas and it also had a side access road to Stewart, BC/Hyder, AK which I wanted to spend a few days in.

The Cassiar Highway is definitely my favorite highway thus far. The entire highway you are surrounded by mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers…it’s literally non-stop the WHOLE way. About halfway up the highway is a one way access road to Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK. Two very small towns at the end right next to each other, in the middle of nowhere, two different countries. There are no U.S. customs to enter the U.S but there are Canadian customs to get back in to BC, which you have to do when you head back. Hyder is the very last town with no outlet.

Stewart is supposedly known for “where the bears are” but when I talked to a ranger he said the bear activity was pretty rare right now, for whatever reason, and I didn’t end up seeing a single bear there, a little disappointing.

There is one little store in Stewart with Wi-Fi access and one calling card/Collect ONLY phone in Hyder for public use. So communication of any kind is slim to none. Of course, no cell service either. I checked out all the little shops and walked around just enjoying being surrounded by mountains, Bear Glacier, and Salmon Glacier.

Here is where the night gets really interesting and fun. I went into a local Inn/Restaurant/Bar to grab some fries and a drink and ended up talking with a group that recently came to Hyder that day as well. They were doing some peace work planting trees along the main Cassiar Highway and it was nice to have some people to hang out with in the area. Well, the restaurant closed at 9 so we all had to leave and the rest of the town was well closed by then too. So the rest of the night we all just hung out on a near by dock and the views were amazing. I didn’t have my camera and it’s hard to explain but there were a few layers of misty cloud layers over the water and through the mountains. One of those “you had to see it” kinda things.
Oh, and I can’t forget about Rod, a music professor at Columbus, who joined us as well. Pretty funny guy!

Anyways, it was a crazy fun night in Hyder, AK. They are all from BC and none of them had every been to America before. It was weird to be in “america” and BC and back and forth all day long. They all had rooms at a motel in Hyder and I had my tent setup a few miles down the road, at the end of the night we all went our separate ways.

Great drive, incredible views, fun group of people… good day.

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