September 15, Stewart, B.C.

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

Another Trip in to Fish Creek and Salmon Glacier

Up and out very early and made the 35 mile drive in to Stewart/Hyder while it was still dark. My game plan was to try and get up the Salmon Glacier Road in time to catch some early morning light, and hopefully some blue skies.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

As the Prius climbed up the road, I could see some pretty heavy cloud cover moving in and it looked like I wasn’t going to get my early morning shots.

Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

I did manage to snap a few shots before the blue sky disappeared completely …

Clouds Moving in on Salmon Glacier
Clouds Moving in on Salmon Glacier

… but it didn’t take long before the clouds were only allowing shafts of sunlight through. No sense in wasting the long trip up here so, since the cloudy conditions were conducive to shooting a couple of the small  waterfalls up here, I turned my camera around to concentrate on the uphill side of the road and slowly headed back down the mountain.

Waterfall Above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall Above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier

You’ll have to forgive my fixation with this type of waterfall shot …

Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier

… but i just have this thing about a single rock fixed in the center of a waterfall.

Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
Waterfall above Salmon Glacier
A Little Autumn color
A Little Autumn color

A little local color and then on down to …

Fish Creek Bear Observation Site

Fish Creek Bear Observation Deck
Fish Creek Bear Observation Deck

A view of the platform above Fish Creek on this gloomy day. I wandered along the platform for about two hours patiently waiting in the drizzle and rain for a bear to show up. There were only a few other hardy ( foolhardy? ) souls here today who risked getting wet for an opportunity to see some bears in action.

Chum Salmon Spawning
Chum Salmon Spawning

There are still quite a few, a little worse for wear, chum salmon spawning in Fish Creek. One of the rangers here told me that this season has seen the best chum salmon run in nine years. The female fish ( on her side in the image above ) is fanning out a spot in the gravel, with her tail, where she will deposit her eggs. The male, the darker fish behind her, will then fertilize the eggs.

A Sign That Bears Are Around
A Sign That Bears Are Around

Salmon remains on the bank of the stream indicate that there are still bears in the area that are coming in here to feed.

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

And finally, on my third trip in here, this handsome fellow comes wading down the stream to try his luck!

Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek
Fishing Fish Creek

Kind of a thrill to be this close to one of these beautiful animals. This guy is almost directly below me, only about 20 feet from where I am standing on the deck above.

I just happened to stumble on this blogger’s post on Fish Creek and was a little surprised to see what she was lucky enough to run into when visiting the site, click: here to check it out.

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September 13, 2015 Stewart, B.C.

Just One of Those Days!
Just One of Those Days!

Just a Spectacular Day !

This part of the world certainly has it’s fair share of gloomy, damp weather, and my trip through the region has experienced more dark days than sunny ones, to be sure.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Meziadin Provincial Park Campsite
Meziadin Provincial Park Campsite

But as I left my campsite at Meziadin Provincial park this morning …

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

… on the 35 mile trip down Route 37A to the small coastal towns of Stewart and Hyder, it became quickly apparent that today was going to be one of those blue sky days that leaves an indelible mark on your memory.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

Route 37A weaves it’s way down through the coastal mountains along a glacier fed stream that parallels the highway and those jagged mountains rise rapidly above the stream and loom over the road.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

The autumn colors, the golds of the aspens and birches and the reds and oranges of the shrubs and ground cover, certainly add to the spectacular scenery.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

Hidden above the steep mountains that tower over the valley are extensive glaciers that every now and then reveal themselves as their toes dip down to the valley they carved out below.

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

Glacier fed waterfalls from the ice fields far above tumble to the river below as you approach the small town of Stewart, British Columbia.

Along the Road to Stewart
Along the Road to Stewart

The image above reveals only above one quarter of the height of this waterfall …

On the Road to Stewart
On the Road to Stewart

… somewhere way up there lies an enormous ice field, an example of which I shall find later in the day.

Salmon Glacier

Initially, way back before the disasters on the Top of the World Highway, I had planned to be here in Hyder the last week of August for the final chum salmon run on Fish Creek to get a chance at some grizzlies enjoying that last run of the season.

Muddy Toe of Salmon Glacier
Muddy Toe of Salmon Glacier

Even though I most likely had now missed that salmon run, I still wanted to come down here to once again experience the climb up the Salmon Glacier Road, a drive I did 22 years ago in my old Class C motorhome.

Camping Above Salmon Glacier, 1993
Camping Above Salmon Glacier, 1993
Half Way Up the Salmon Glacier Road
Half Way Up the Salmon Glacier Road
Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier
Salmon Glacier

The view at the top was every bit as wonderful as I remembered, perhaps even more so on this gorgeous day.

Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier

And when you turned around, the autumn colors of the upper slopes of the mountain just added to the wonder of this very special place.

Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier
Above Salmon Glacier

WHAT A DAY ! Kind of makes up for missing the bears and the salmon run, but I think I will check out Fish Creek anyhow tomorrow, just in case there happen to be some stragglers still around.

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July 19, 2015 Wasilla, Alaska

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

A Gorgeous Day at Hatcher Pass

Yesterday I left Anchorage and travelled a short way north to Wasilla and set up in the Walmart parking lot. I am truly experiencing a real wilderness adventure the past week or so, boondocking first in Cabella’s parking lot and now at Walmart, but the truth of the matter is that I have yet to find a decent private campground in my Alaska travels. All have you packed in like sardines and seem very much overpriced for what they offer.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Three Rocks
Three Rocks

With nice weather predicted for today I was out and about before 7 AM and drove out the Wasilla-Fishhook Road heading for the Hatcher Pass. The Little Susitna River parallels the road as you gain elevation on the way up to the pass, so I had to stop for a few river shots.

Little Susitna River
Little Susitna River
Little Susitna River
Little Susitna River

The easily climbed paved road up to the State Historical Park at Hatcher Pass provides several great vantage points for photos as well as a couple of primitive campgrounds that would handle mid-sized rigs.

Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park
Hatcher Pass Mine State Historical Park

There are a few restored buildings at the State Park and some old mining facilities that have definitely suffered from years of abandonment.

Old Mine Works
Old Mine Works
Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays
Alaska Marmot Catching His Morning Rays

There also was this Alaskan Marmot warming himself up in the early morning sun.

Alaska Marmot
Alaska Marmot

He appeared pretty used to human presence but kept a close eye on this photographer as I was capturing his image.

Hatcher Pass Road
Hatcher Pass Road

Hatcher Pass

Just before you reach the State Park, there is a gravel road that takes off to the left and heads up to Hatcher Pass itself. This is a little narrow and steep in a couple spots, and although it probably could be done in the motorhome, i wouldn’t recommend doing so.

Hatcher Pass
Hatcher Pass

The road climbs for a half mile or so to a small parking area at the very top where you can walk out a footpath for some pretty dramatic views of the valley below where the road then takes you eventually to Willow.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds
Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

Some of the high meadows up here have this weird mounded texture. These mounds are about a yard wide and rise up about a foot or so in the center and are covered in moss.

Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds
Hatcher Pass Moss Mounds

I have no idea how or why these exist, and can’t say as I have ever encountered anything like them before.

Hatcher Pass
Hatcher Pass

At times today, I literally did have my head in the clouds.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top
Hatcher Pass View From the Top
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

As you can see, you are well above treeline up here and the air is crisp and clean, the distant view just simply spectacular.

Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow
Hatcher Pass View From the Top of the Road to Willow

The narrow gravel road, in relatively good shape, leads you down from the pass and to the town of Willow, about thirty miles away.

Mine Tailings
Mine Tailings

Along the road there are a few active mining operations as well as some abandoned ventures.

Sounding the Alarm
Sounding the Alarm

All along this road, especially at the higher elevations, were these ground squirrels, some of whom were a little wary of me …

The Lookout
The Lookout

…and some that probably had discovered that some people will throw them some little treats if they look cute and approach your vehicle.

Ground Squirrel Portrait
Ground Squirrel Portrait

This guy was one of the latter.

All along this road, I was constantly scanning the meadows and mountain slopes looking for wildlife. I was sure I would have to see some sheep or bears somewhere along the way, but I never saw anything, even though I stopped every mile or so and glasssed all the slopes. Perhaps the weekend warriors scared evrything off? It just looks like there would have to be wildlife up here.

Descending to Treeline
Descending to Treeline

The road eventually descends back below treeline, where you start to encounter fireweed once again.

Road to Willow
Road to Willow
Roadside Fireweed
Roadside Fireweed

This was close to a ninety mile round trip and it took me about six hours to make it around with all the stops for photographs. The Willow side of the mountains appears to be a very popular spot for the local ATV crowd.  THere were several pulloffs for camping along that section of the road and on this Sunday afternoon, almost all of them were occupied by campers with ATV’s. The State Park land doesn’t allow ATV’s.

If you are ever in the Wasilla area and have some decent weather, this is a must do trip.

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June 9, 2015 Seward, Alaska

Sea Otters
Sea Otters

Eight Soggy Days

Well, it’s been a week since my last post, a longer than usual pause caused by a couple of factors, a lack of internet availability and a lack of any kind of activity worthy of posting. Eight straight days of rain and leaden gray skies have put my Alaska adventures on hold. Without an internet connection, I am not sure just how long this bad weather streak is going to continue, but the long range forecast, back when I was in Anchorage, was calling for two weeks of this wet stuff, so I suppose I’m only half way there.

I left Cabella’s parking lot/campsite last Wednesday at noon, but only made it about 25 miles south on the Seward Highway, deciding to pull off and camp at the turnoff at MM 92.5. The strong wind from the south and heavy rain was making driving a little uncomfortable and I knew I was in no rush to get anywhere, so better safe than sorry.

I awoke the next morning to rain … and the odd sight of two individuals on paddle boards working their way seaward at 5:30 AM in just horrible weather conditions. For the life of me, I just couldn’t figure what was going on there. And about five minutes later, it became clear just what these two were up to as the infamous Turnagain Arm tidal bore came rushing in. This was the first time I had ever seen anything like this, a wall of rushing water, pushing a wave of perhaps five of 6 feet in height, moving at an incredible speed down the waterway. And these two guys had been paddling out to meet it and ride it back in. Both had fallen behind the crest and were paddling furiously to catch back up with the front of the surge, but never were able to get there.

Five minutes later, once again through my rain streaked windows, I saw what I at first thought were some white caps racing in the direction of the surge, only 30 feet from the shoreline, at least I assumed that must be what I was seeing. It took a few seconds to realize that what I was looking at was a pod of Beluga Whales racing in with the tide. They were gone in just a few seconds and the sighting was not as spectacular as one might think since Turnagain Arms waters are a cloudy, silt laden gray and all you actually see of the whales is a quick glimpse of their backs as they roll along with the tide, no head, fins, or tails, just a three or four foot section of back. Still kind of neat to finally actually see at least a part of these creatures.

So Thursday morning, I continued on south to Seward on what probably is a beautiful drive along the water and through the mountains, but with the rain and low lying clouds, there wasn’t much to see today. I will have to hope my return on this road coincides with some clearer weather. I arrived in Seward and was able to snag a waterfront campsite with electric and water. I had decided to forego boondocking because of the inclement weather that was forecast for the next couple of weeks, weather conditions not terribly favorable for generating electricity with my solar setup.

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Right
Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Right

Seward Waterfront Campground

The Seward waterfront campsites are $30 for utilities and $15 for primitive. The sites are flat, stone surfaced and really tightly spaced.

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Left
Seward Waterfront Campsite, View to my Left

I had to actually ask my neighbor to move his truck so that I could access my basement storage doors the other day … now that is what I call very tight spacing. So I have constant rain, absolutely no privacy, no satellite TV ( too far north ), no over the air TV, no phone, and no internet signal. And there may well be another week of this to endure.

Seward Waterfront Campsite, View out Front
Seward Waterfront Campsite, View out Front

The one redeeming, life saving, feature of this particular site is the view out the front windshield. So far, through the rain streaked windshield, I have seen a humpback whale semi breach only a hundred yards out, sea lions snagging fish close to shore, bald eagles flying overhead, and my favorite entertainers, a pair of sea otters that hunt near the shoreline every day, plucking mussels from the rocks just offshore then surfacing and devouring their catch while floating on their backs, no more than a hundred feet away. The red arrow in the image above is pointing to one of them out there when I happened to take this shot. Unlike me, I suppose  they don’t really mind the rain.

As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.

Sea Otter
Sea Otter

 

The Rain Stops ! ( but only for five hours )

Two days ago, the rain actually stopped for a couple of hours and I was able to get my long lens and tripod out and get a few shots of these guys, actually, probably gals, as I think, from their interactions, that they may be a mom and last years offspring, though I don’t know that for sure.

As always, click any image for a larger, sharper version.

Sea Otter
Sea Otter
Sea Otter
Sea Otter
Sea Otters
Sea Otters

 

Sea Otter
Sea Otter
Mew Gull
Mew Gull
Mew Gull
Mew Gull

During this short break in the weather I also got a couple shots of the Mew Gulls when they came close to get a drink of fresh water in the puddles in front of the motorhome.

Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall

While the rain held off for a few hours I drove north a couple of miles and took the Nash Road around to the other side of the sound to explore a little and ran across a beautiful waterfall on the side of the road.

Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall

SewardDetail5

SewardDetail3

Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall
Seward Waterfall

At the end of Nash Road there is a large gravel parking area where I found several folks camping, despite an older sign on a bulletin board there stating that the campground was closed. There had to be at least twenty Rvs and tenters set up there though, so obviously, no one is stopping people from camping there. A definite boondocking possibility for the Seward area.

Well, I am off to the Seward Library in hopes of being able to post this blog entry, if you are reading this, then I guess I must have had some success there. Once again, it may well be a while until the rain ends and I have reason to do another post, but stay tuned.