A Trip to North BC Coast (2) – Fish Creek, Hyder, AK
Hyder, AK, has a population of only 87 (2010 census) but is well known by Canadian travelers for being the most easily accessible Alaskan town and the most Canadian-flavored American town. As described in Wikipedia, “Hyder is notable for being the only place in Alaska not to use the 907 area code, instead using British Columbia’s 250. Tourists also find that Hyder uses the Pacific Time Zone, the preferred currency is Canadian (except the U.S. Post Office, which accepts only American currency), observes Canadian holidays, send their children to a Canadian school, and calling the police means a Canadian Mountie will respond. Electricity comes from Canada, as the local electric utility is British Columbia’s BC Hydro.” Yes, the RV camp where we stayed a night took Canadian dollars only. And when we asked the only store in Hyder for beer, we were told to buy across the border.
OK, we came to Hyder for bears, not beers.
Actually, as we approached Hyder, there is a glacier called Bear Glacier, on the roadside of Highway 37A, at a place which used to be called Bear River Pass. According to BC Parks, “Ice once filled all of the pass, but in the 1940’s, the glacier began to retreat and Strohn Lake formed in the exposed basin. In 1967, Bear Glacier melted away from the valley wall and Strohn Lake was no longer dammed. Since then the glacier has continued its retreat.” Another evidence of global warming?
Hyder’s economy today is based almost entirely on tourism. Every year between late July to early September, a creek 3 miles north of Hyder is full of returning salmons, which makes itself an ideal place to view the grizzlies and black bears that come to feed on the fishes. The creek, most appropriately called Fish Creek, attracts thousands of tourists (and their dollars, of course) during the bear viewing season. The Fish Creek bear viewing area is now part of the US Forest Service system and requires an admission fee.
We arrived at Hyder almost 6pm and drove up to Fish Creek right after finding an RV site. We got there at a right time. A mama grizzly and a cup appeared on the creek shortly after we set up our gears. What a show it was! The light was dim but manageable to my 5D Mark II. I got some of the best shots of this trip that evening.
After more than half an hour’s “show”, the bears left and the bald eagles took their place.
It was 7:35pm by the time we thought the light was too dim and we had got enough, thinking there would be another show the next day anyway, which turned out to be only a wishful thinking.