Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reunion Journey, Days 10-12 Cassier Highway

The Cassier highway travels about 500 miles south from Watson Lake, YT to the Yellowhead Highway in central BC. Along the way are many breathtaking mountain views, punctuated with animal sightings, if you are lucky. The northern end of the Cassier is narrow and winding, but further south the road improves. Almost the entire length is now paved, with a few exceptions, mostly in the northern half.

Cassier Highway, Part of the British Columbia Great Northern Circle Route

The Northern End of the Cassier has Several Unpaved Stretches

A construction Detour on the Cassier

At the entrance t the Cassier near Watson Lake is a sign showing the Circle Route. In traveling the Cassier and the Yellowhead from Watson Lake to Prince George, we completed the circle, which we began almost two months ago on our northbound journey from Prince George, through Watson Lake to Alaska.

Roadside Map Showing the
British Columbia Great Circle Route

Our first day on the Cassier we saw a couple of mountain sheep, and several varieties of wildflowers along the side of the road. Kathy loves taking pictures of both, as shown below.

Mountain Sheep

Pretty Yellow Flowers

Pretty Pink Flowers

Pretty Blue Flowers

Our first night on the Cassier we camped at Mountain Shadow Campground in Iskut, about 200 miles south of Watson Lake. This is an exquisitely beautiful site, nestled in a lush valley at the foot of the mountains.

Mountain Shadow Campground

Our second day on the Cassier the road continued to improve, and the mountain scenery became even more spectacular. The critter gods were smiling, and we spotted several bears, including a mother and cubs, which we were not able to photograph. We did, however, snap this fellow, ambling across the road ahead of us.

Cassier Highway Rolling South From Iskut

Bruin Takes His Time Crossing the Cassier Highway

About 130 miles south of Iskut we turned off on Rt. 37A, for a short trip to Stewart BC / Hyder AK. Along this road we saw a cub browsing among the flowers on the shoulder. Judging from number of nearby vehicles and photographers, we think the mother was out of sight over bank. Cub seemed fully acclimatized to vehicles; browsing unconcerned and totally ignoring the ignoring paparazzi. Just past the bear jam, we passed the appropriately named Bear Glacier.

Bear Cub Munches Flowers,
Totally Unconcerned By Surrounding Paparazzi

Bear Glacier

Stewart and Hyder are twin towns astride Alaska/BC border, at head of Portland Canal. The Alaska State Ferry System used to serve Hyder, but no more. The primary attractions in Hyder are Fish Creek, where bears congregate to eat spawning salmon, and the nearby Salmon Glacier.

The salmon have been few and far between this year. This is being attributed to unusually cool, rainy weather throughout southern Alaska. No salmon, no bears. We made two separate visits to fish creek, evening and morning, with no luck. Our friends Rick and Carol had more patience than we, so got some good bear photos; see their photos at:

Rick and Carol at Fish Creek

We saw Salmon Glacier 3 years ago on our 2005 Alaska caravan, so chose not to drive our own vehicle up the steep mountain road this year. This may have been a mistake. Our travel companions drove up to see the glacier, and reported the road much improved this year. For what it’s worth, we attach herewith a couple of our 2005 photos.

Salmon Glacier

Mountain Goddess Spotted at Salmon Glacier

We did find a bear in Stewart, in front of King Edward Hotel. We attach a photograph to prove it.

Bear Spotted in Front of the King Edward Hotel

Our group enjoyed a good dinner at in the hotel dining room; Kathy had prawns, and Keith halibut & chips (3COWS).

Speaking of finding bears in town, the locals are complaining that the poor salmon run this year is driving the bears to seek food in town. Several bear attacks have recently been reported in BC.

Tomorrow we depart Stewart for Prince George, with an overnight stop in Smithers. In Prince George we disband our informal post-caravan caravan, and go our separate ways. Keith & Kathy will be headed for Canadian Rockies, with stops at Jasper, Lake Louise, Banff, & Calgary. Tune into our next exciting episode, same time, and same station.

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