Traveling Southward from Alaska

After a wonderful Alaskan summer filled with wildlife, hiking, and fishing with friends and family, we’ve begun our trek southward. It’s going to take us at least a month to get home, so there are more fun stops ahead!

We’ve been doing quite a few days of driving, though never more than 200 miles each segment. Along the way, again on the Alaskan Highway, we’ve stopped at mostly provincial parks, which are beautiful government-run campgrounds that often include free firewood and a view.

Twice while staying at these campgrounds, Steve has had encounters with grizzly bears while out running! He didn’t have any problems, but it sure increases the heart rate and gave us some good photos.

We took the side trip to Haines, AK from the Alaska highway in the Yukon Territory. We’re getting good at crossing international borders. Haines is a beautiful little town on Alaska’s Inside Passage. We had cruise ships visit town three days while we were there.

One of the attractions in the area is the Kroschel Wildlife Center, so we checked it out. Steve Kroschel, a documentary film maker who delighted Johnny Carson with his baby wolverines in 1990, opens his 60 acre wildlife reserve to small group tours. The wildlife park is a funky, entertaining collection of surprises.

In our two hours with Steve Kroschel, we got up close and personal with wolves, porcupines, ermines, caribou, baby moose, and of course a grizzly. Steve is a “personality” and the experience was certainly memorable.

Haines has some nice hiking trails, which we explored when it wasn’t raining. The coastal rainforest is lush and beautiful.

Twice while we were in Haines we visited Chilkoot State Park in the early evening to see the local bears. They hang out in the neighborhood where the Chilkoot River merges with the ocean. Mama bears and their babies were on the hunt for salmon and we enjoyed watching them do their thing.

We had planned to put our truck and trailer on the ferry to travel to nearby Skagway where we’d continue our journey. Well…best laid plans…the ferry was cancelled due to mechanical problems, so we headed back up to the Alaska Highway and spent the night in Whitehorse, YT where we’d visited on our way to Alaska. Our detour was a blessing in disguise as we were able to catch a glimpse of the northern lights! We really lucked out!

As we worked our way through British Columbia we took another detour to the twin towns of Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK. With our new friends that we met at a provincial campground, Ari and Dahlia, we drove the very rough road to the spectacular Salmon Glacier with views for miles.

We also made the stop at Fish Creek where bears are a frequent sight during the salmon run. We timed it just right and enjoyed watching a young grizzly playing with the fish for over 30 minutes.

To celebrate our good bear fortune we visited the only bar in Hyder to get “Hyderized.” Steve and Ari took the challenge, doing a shot of mystery liquor (Everclear) and receiving a certificate for their efforts. 

We’re now continuing our daily 100-200 mile jaunts moving slowly southward. We’re traveling through native lands, where totem poles are plentiful and subsistence fishing is the norm. In Witset, BC we enjoyed watching a local dip-net for salmon in a narrow place in the river.

The landscapes in the Yukon Territory and British Columbia have been nothing short of spectacular and the people have been truly “Canada nice.”