Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aug 20 – To Stewart, BC and Salmon Glacier

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Another awe inspiring day. Right up there with my first views of the Grand Canyon long ago and Crater Lake last year. I need to use a thesaurus but Salmon Glacier blew us away.

This morning we did the short drive down to Stewart. We continued driving alongside the Coast Mountains. The highway got much better. It was very smooth and actually had lines. Still very little shoulder though in a lot of places.


At the turnoff to Stewart and Hyder we went into the mountains on what is called the Glacier Highway.


I cannot even begin to count the number of glaciers we saw today. Every valley in the mountains had one.




The highlight of the highway was Bear Glacier which come right down to a lake beside the road. We will have to come back in the early morning to see it all in the sun.



Just after Bear Glacier and about halfway in we went from full sunshine to completely clouded over. No more mountain tops.

We went through a narrow canyon for a few kilometers where we couldn’t see much upward anyway.


Once we got into Stewart we looked at the first campground I had selected. They wanted $38 for full hookups but there were so many trees and mountains the satellite dish would not work. We don’t really need full hookups and if the TV was not going to work we moved on to checkout the municipal campground. It was a nice wooded campground with electric only sites for $23 with Jennie’s seniors discount.

One of the things you have to do here is go and see the Salmon Glacier. We wanted to see it in the sunshine. It was still quite cloudy and when we checked the weather forecast and it seemed to be getting worse in the next few days. We could see a bit of sun off to the west so we decided give it a try and go today.

To get to the glacier you first drive to Hyder which is back in Alaska (more on that later). Then you drive out 37 km on a dirt road. The first 7 km were being rebuilt so it was covered in very course gravel. The next 10 were very flat with very little drainage so it was covered in pot holes. The road services several active mines and logging operations and the workers just blast back and forth in their pickup trucks. I would guess I averaged about 20 kph on this section bouncing and shaking all the way. I really worried about the CRV,

It got so bad we considered turning back. Somebody in front of us did. Also our GPS’s maps seem to be incomplete or way off here so I wasn’t even sure I was on the right road. Eventually I saw an RV coming the other way so I knew we were OK.

Once we passed the most active mines and the road started climbing and got much better.


It was still very dusty. The poor CRV is just covered. It seems pointless to wash it because we take it on so many dirt roads.


We climbed pretty high. Here is the view back down the valley with the river from the melting glacier.



Here is our first view of the glacier itself.


We stopped at every turnout as we climbed higher and higher. Now we could see the toe.


Pretty impressive but you ain’t seen nothing yet. Higher still… You can see the road cut into the mountainside on the right.






Some nice deep blue ponds on the surface.



And the highest lookout on the road looking down on the point that the glacier turns a corner.


Again it was just impossible to gauge the immensity of this thing. At one point we heard a helicopter doing a tour. It took us forever to find it because it was just an insignificant speck in that ocean of ice. It is in the picture below. I will put a box around it in a later picture.




I have no idea how long we just sat and stared. At least an hour and a half.



We are on satellite internet here so this video took 4 hours to load to youtube.

It was really interesting to see how the ice cracked and bent as it went around the corner.



Off to the right the ice got jammed into the outside of the corner.


We continued on down the road to investigate.



The ice at the corner was real jumble.


The ice seemed to be flaking off the glacier.


This is the helicopter again for some size perspective.

Here is a view from farther down the valley back up at those ridges of ice.



To top it off a hanging glacier came into view in the next valley.


Here is the view back from even farther down the valley.


There is a lot of water held in those ice ridges at the corner.


A sign said that the ice dam often breaks and the river in the valley becomes a rather large lake. It happens often enough that it is called Summit Lake and is on the maps. We kept going down the road trying to find the lake until we realized where is “was”.

I am not sure if you can call this a glacier but it just seemed to spill onto the valley floor.


The road ends at a mine. You can see it’s zig zag road a bit in, at the bottom right.



Yet another glacier over it.


We had left the RV a bit after lunch. By now it was almost 5 and we since could see the end of the road, we turned back.


When we got back to town we were too tired to even think about making dinner so we went to a place that all the books and blogs said we had to try. It is just called “The Bus”.


I had halibut fish and chips and Jennie had sautéed halibut but as usual we shared. Mine was very good. Hers was OK.

What can I say. Another day we will remember for a long time.


  1. The Salmon Glacier is amazing! You did a great job capturing the scope and enormnity of it! we definitely need to see this one day!!!

  2. Wow, what a great adventure. I lived in Stewart for 2 years when I was in grades 4-5 (Mid-80's). I have been back since then so it is nice to see your photos.