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Dease Lake, B.C. to Hyder, AK

July 27, 2007

We left Dease Lake on the 18th, after a 3 day stay to take care of some business back home.  Now we are on the road again!

Biked the next 2 days thru mostly rain.  Stayed in a small cabin at Tatogga Lake Resort.  A couple had just purchased this resort a month before.   Wow, these Canadians sure know how to do home-made food!   We were just getting ready to leave there and Ralph noticed his bike rack was broken and had to repair it.  The owner had a small shop that came with his purchase of the property that looked more like a junk yard, but we dug thru and found some tools to use and repaired his rack.  Then, Ralph used the air compressor there to add air to his tire, which did not release when he went to pull it off and it blew a hole in his tire.  So, back in for a tire change (not bad, first flat in 1630 miles so far!).  The owner there was watching us and asked us, “Now why, would a couple like you choose to travel this way, when you could just buy a small car, with large windows and drive slowly and see the same things?”  We asked him, “Why, would a couple like you want to buy a resort to maintain and do all the cooking, cleaning and fixing yourselves?”    We couldn’t understand his lifestyle and he surely didn’t get ours!  Sure got us thinking tho, “Why are we doing this???”  Well, I can’t go into all that now, but as you read on hopefully you will understand!

On July 21st we had only a 30 mile ride from Bob Quinn airstrip (an active Goldmine) to Bell II (a Helicopter ski area ).  Well it was so beautiful, with snowcapped mountains, streams, waterfalls and avalanche areas that it took us most of the day to arrive at Bell II.  We ate, set up camp and immediately headed for the outdoor hottub!  Wow, that felt great after almost 1700 miles of cycling!!  (finally, somewhere to soak our sore muscles!)  But, it did not take long before our pesty friends found us in the tub and drove us running out of there for the indoor saunna!  Only 1 or 2 were found in there and we were able to KILL them!!    Later that day, 2 bikers arrived coming all the way from Key West, Florida, Jin and Glenn.  We shared stories and places to stop and get good food.  They had ridden since April 4th, and were ending their ride in Anchorage, biking for the Lance Armstrong cancer, “Livestrong”.   The next morning, we came across 18 more bicycles coming north from Texas to Anchorage.  This group is from the University of Texas and students ride every year to support cancer research!  This got us thinking we need to add a link to our website soon for a cause we want to support. 

We left there on the 22nd and biked on to Meziadin Junction.  This was a provincial campground on  a really beautiful lake with millions of mesquitos, but worth putting up with for the views!  Got tent set up and the manager came around and told me that a mother bear and 2 cubs had been hanging out by the site I had just set up in, soooo, took the tent down and moved down by the lake in by all the RV’s!! 

Well, we made it thru the night and then had a 36 mile bikeride thru the most beautiful place, we both agreed, that we have ever seen in our lives!!!  We were on Hwy 37A over to Stewart and Hyder, AK.  Wow — our necks actually got sore from looking up!  We had to keep stopping and taking pictures.  Vibrant blue hanging glaciers and waterfalls coming off the tops of mountains – 6,000 feet above us!!  There must have been a million waterfalls all within a few miles.  Then we came to Bear Glacier, which comes all the way down to the road we were on.  The was so much water coming out of the bottom of the glacier and pouring out into a small lake, that is was like a small river (about like the Crystal River in the summer).  This glacier has melted substantially in the last few years, was not a lake there just a few years back! (Global warming!) 

Arrived in Stewart, a small town of about 200 people that had 37 feet of snow this winter!  They had a base of snow of 27 feet after it all fell and many building collapsed from the weight!  This area has the world record for most snow ever, they get average a 150″ per year or 13 feet!  Guess they went over the average!  Steward is at the end of a canal that comes in from the Pacific Ocean.  Then you stay on the road for 1 more mile along the shore and cross the US/Canadian border and are in Hyder, AK with a population of maybe 25 people!

Hyder, has been our home now for 4 days!  Cool little town with 2 bars, a motel, 2 coffee shops, 2 campgrounds, and a Fish Bus (resturant), all at the base of “Green Mountain”.  This mountain has the most vertical relief from Sea to Mountain top, around 6000 feet, with waterfalls coming off of it, very green trees and grassy slopes, with some snow still on top!! (So, of course, this is the “boring” view we chose to have out of our tent for the last few days!) 

From our base camp here, we have gone up “Fish Creek” to view a mamma Grizz with 3 cubs, catching and eating Salmon on the creek.  They have a great viewing boardwalk, built by the Forest Service that you pay to go on and the bears are right below you in the creek catching and eating fish and feeding their babies.  The Salmon come here to spawn and then die in July and August and the Grizzly’s come to feed on them.   So far, the bearwatching is slow because they only have 7 – 10 fish per day coming upstream.   Every AM and evening between 6 and 9 o’clock, she comes at some point to catch the Chum Salmon, (about 24 – 36″ long), then takes it to the babies and they fight over it, you can hear them growling and fighting.  Then they lick their paws and she gets them another one!  Then usually a Male Grizz will come and she gets her young ones and leaves.  The same Mother bear was here last year when the 3 babies were real little.  This year will be the last year she will teach them to fish and survive and then she will abandon them! (oh, so sad, but the natural process of nature!)

From Hyder, Ralph biked (about 20 miles up), Pat rode (smart) with a group from the Nederlands up to view Salmon Glacier.  We could not see the top because of fog, but it comes down a valley and then splits 2 ways and you can drive right up to it!  Spectacular blues again, crevasses across the glacier and hugh icebergs floating in the lake at the other end that are approximately 100 feet tall.  In about a month, when the ice melts enough, this lake drains and the icebergs are left sitting on the ground and the water rushes down the valley towards the town.  It’s an exciting event all the towns people go out to watch!

Our plan is to leave here tomorrow, if we can pull ourselves away, and ride back over the Stewart/Cassier Hwy, while straining our necks again and then head south to Hwy 16 over to Jaspar, B.C. and Banff for more neck-staining beauty!

We miss all our friends and relatives back home, and the many, many friends met along the way, but like our new friend from Alaska says, “travel makes us appreciate each other!”  We find the people we meet and friends made along the way are the most valuable part of our trip.  They get you thinking and wondering and ask you questions you probably have never asked yourself or even thought about before.  Wow- what an experience – we encourage everyone to travel and see our beautiful world and all the interesting people out there to meet!  We have been discussing levels of crazy with our newest friends, Gary and Kathy. ( We think they are crazy, crawling through the bushes and grass, pushing their fishing rods in front of them, to get to the next great fishing spot, where all the grizzly bears hang out, only to catch and release the fish again! )  Well, they think we are more crazy doing what we do, as I’m sure many of you do too! 

Until next time—  Bikin’ On!  Ralph & Pat

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