Close to the wild

Hyder Travel Blog

 › entry 42 of 47 › view all entries
Despite being in a car it's freaky to be 5m away from a black bear.
It's pretty hard to grasp for a European city boy how much big and how devoid of people some places can be. The north of BC and Alaska are a few of those places, second only probably to the Yukon (where the guy from 'Into the Wild' ended up) or the Sahara. In Prince Rupert I had met a wildlife gide at the hostel. Guide as is in touring moose and deer hunters. He lived in the sticks in the Yukon, he had to take a seaplane from Prince Rupert into Alaska and then his boat upriver back into Canada to get to his home. He had been a programmer before turning his life around. Maybe an idea for the future? ;)
Hyder is a tiny Alaskan town close to the Canadian border, right next to the tiny Canadian town of Stewart.
I arrived here close to midnight. Without the cars the dusty main street would look like a 19th century frontier town. I came out around midnight for a smoke and wasn't particularly paying attention when I thought I'd try to make a night shot of the street. Looking at the camera screen I saw something big crossing the street some 40m away. My heart stopped when I looked up and realized it was a Grizzly.  'Damn, what if I had stepped out of the hotel just as he was passing?!?' This was definitely way out of my comfort zone...  He was checking the garbage cans for food as an overturned bin nearby reminded me. Dumbfounded I didn't know what to do. Chasing a grizzly down the street  so I could take a good picture didn't seem like a good idea. After a minute I realized I had my car nearby but too late, I didn't manage to spot him in the neighbourhood.
It's bigger than that ;)

Next day I crossed the border and took the dirt road up to the Salmon Glacier. Just a few km out of town I passed by the the Salmon River. Driving along looking for a place to park to take a look at the salmons in there I spot a black bear up the road. A black bear?! WTF?!? I guess it shouldn't be a suprise that bears are atracted to a river full of salmon but still, bears walking on the road? I had to correct all my assumptions about what you can actually encounter on a road, my experience being limited to drunk cyclists in Amsterdam as the most dangerous 'wildlife'.  It brought to mind the Dutch expression "Beren op de weg zien", literally: to see bears on the road, meaning to see problems ahead. I suppose when travellers could still encounter bears some centuries ago that would indeed be a problem. Exactly how uncomfortable you can feel I realised when I walked from the parking spot to the salmon river: I felt pretty darn naked walking in an area where out of the blue you could stand eye to eye with such a massive animal.
The Salmon Glacier was pretty impressive, it seemed huge compared to the ones I'd seen in New Zealand, an astonishing mass of ice coming down the mountain with its blue shade of white.
Massive was indeed the word of the day...
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Despite being in a car its freaky…
Despite being in a car it's freak…
Its bigger than that ;)
It's bigger than that ;)
Stewart on the Canadian side. Stil…
Stewart on the Canadian side. Sti…
Hmmm, a bear on the road. Bear on …
Hmmm, a bear on the road. Bear on…
Cruising for salmon...
Cruising for salmon...
A marmot on the road
A marmot on the road
The Salmon glacier. Massive.
The Salmon glacier. Massive.
Roadside berry snack.
Roadside berry snack.
Hyder
photo by: marg_eric