After waking up and eating a hefty breakfast, K.G and I rode to the intersection of Cassiar Highway and the road leading to Stewart/Hyder in order to catch a ride to see the glaciers. I think our thumbs were up for a whopping 15 minutes before a white Ford pickup pulls in, Robert the driver gets his tall and tattooed body out and asks where we are headed. We inform him that we were hoping to see the Salmon and Bear glacier in Stewart/Hyder area but that we were hoping to catch a ride for this side trip since both of our bodies needed rest instead of some extra added miles. He tells us that he and his wife Jennifer were going to go see some property in Stewart since Jennifer just landed a job there. So we threw our bikes on the back of his pickup and jumped in. In the car we chatted with them a bunch and came to realize that Robert grew up in the area and knew everything about the nature and the towns, he had worked for his parent's B&B and had got accustomed to take out their European guests to see the local sights and knew really well what tourists like us wanted to see. He and Jennifer told us that they would be more than happy to take us to see all the sights and be our personal tour guides for the day, how freaking nice is that!
Hyder and Stewart are two towns separated only by 100 yards and the Canadian border control, Hyder is part of Alaska and Stewart belongs to the Canadian British Columbia. For some reason there is no border control when entering the US side. First stop of our tour was the famous Salmon Glacier 20 miles into the mountains from the town of Hyder, the road up to the glazier is a steep climb on a dirt road mainly used by mining trucks and tourists. Along the way we saw multiple active gold mines and we were also able to catch a glimpse of the salmon spawning up the rivers. At the end of the road we got out of the car and spent some time marveling the sights of the mighty Salmon Glacier, as you can see in the picture we forgot to dress properly to see a glacier. In our defense it was hot and sunny where we caught the ride, didn't occur to us that in the presence of that much ice it might be a bit chillier.
After taking about 50 photos we headed back down in the luxury of a warm vehicle to see the two towns. Hyder was our first stop coming down from the mountain and we went and got some food at a school bus that was turned into a restaurant, we got fish n chips plus a halibut burger. It was delicious and undoubtedly very fresh. After the meal it was time to get me (Ville) Hyderized at the local watering hole. It costs $4 to get Hyderized, what they do is they pour you a shot and tell you to slam it and if it comes back up in the next 10 minutes you owe the whole bar a round. After I slammed the shot they informed me that it was 150 proof everclear and took the class and poured the remaining drops on the bar and lit it on fire. Oh well, when in Rome..
After getting me hammered it was time to look for some houses in Stewart for Robert and Jennifer, they had a list of potential properties and we did a quick drive by them to see which ones were good for the second round. They also took us to see the massive wind turbine parts that were dropped at the harbor, from the harbor they make their way on extra long semis to Manitoba. They have to close the road often to deliver these massive components. We finished the tour by stopping at the Bear Clacier on the way back to where they pick us up, it was smaller than the Salmon one but the lake in front of it gave this one a nice reflection.
After saying our goodbyes to our awesome tour guides ( Thank you so much Robert & Jennifer!) we pitched our tent for the first time on a provincial campground and the second time in general on this trip that we stayed in a campground. The place was full but the nice couple who worked at the campground let us pitch the tent next to their trailer. After the tent was up they treated us for an amazing dinner with ribs! In the morning they invited us for eggs, bacon & pancakes! This is such a great start to a full day of riding when you are always hungry. We keep running into only good people, let's keep it that way!
The next day we woke up to blue skies and an amazing tailwind, we flew almost the remaining 95 miles of the Cassiar and we actually had to stop ourselves after 90 miles so we would line ourselves up nicely for the next day's breakfast. That same day we had stopped to have lunch at a pull off for a forest service road and met a couple from Switzerland, Wally and Petra. Wally & Petra retired recently and are traveling the world for 8 months before they return to Switzerland for a brief moment and hit the road again. They showered us with amazing gifts like powerbars, Gatorade and sandwiches. Before we parted ways they insisted on giving us new shirts to ride in after seeing our old ones that even a hobo would refuse to wear. Such a nice couple! We got to see them later in Smithers and they treated us for a lunch and we shared great conversations about traveling and cultural differences.
Where Cassiar Highway ends a new one begins, this one is called Yellowhead Highway or Highway 16. It is also known as Highway of Tears due to the large number of women who have disappeared mainly hitchhiking on this highway. Really sad, and will not be hitchhiking on this road.
We camped only about 10 miles outside Smithers and then on our ride into town, K.G. got her first flat tire of the trip! Can you believe it? Almost 2,000 miles/3,200 kilometers and our first flat from a huge nail. After a quick fix, we made it into town where we met up with James Fitzmaurice, a brother to Max whom K.G. nannied for in Bend and San Diego for years. We have stayed in his house the last couple days while using his jeep to resupply our stuff in town, get hot showers, laundry and catch up on this blog. And many many thanks to Jim and Mary for mailing us a laptop to use to keep this blog going! Since the last laptop was not down for such an adventure and fried in Tok, we have struggled to keep this going, but not to worry folks, we plan to keep the updates coming once again!
Today we have some rain, but this dynamic duo must trudge on so out we go towards Prince George and Williams Lake where we will decide weather to ride Vancouver Island or not on our way to Vancouver. Stay tuned!
K.G. & Ville
In Ushuaia, at the end of the World!
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson
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