Last stop: Hyder. Located on the southernmost tip of Alaska, it is situated south of Juneau on the Canadian border, at the northern end of the Portland Canal, nestled between mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, abutting the Tongass National Forest, amidst gorgeous surroundings.
Because of its remote location, it took us six days travel (not in a rush) through the Yukon and British Columbia to even reach this southern town in Alaska. The road into Hyder is spectacular, with beautiful mountains, waterfalls and glaciers.
And the town itself is really cool. As one sign says, it is a town of about one hundred happy people, and a few old shitheads.
The allure here in the Tongass National Forest, views notwithstanding, is to catch a glimpse of grizzly bears catching salmon in Fish Creek, the birthplace of these Chum salmon where they return, spawn, and die.
In the spring, the new tiny salmon will spend two years in the stream before they migrate to the ocean, where they will spend 3-5 years before returning to their birthplace to continue the cycle.
The females dig a nest in the gravel in the stream, and some lucky guy then gets to fertilize these eggs. You can see the males fighting each other to show dominance and be that lucky guy.
After spawning the fish die, become food for others, and their remains return nutrients to the stream ecosystem.
Earlier posts (like in Chapter 10 and other chapters) showed bears earlier in the season eating grasses and clamming for food, to subsist until the berries (blueberries etc.) become ripe, and the final “fattening” comes when the salmon run and the bears will gorge on fish for all its protein and fats. Between the claws and teeth, bears are superbly equipped to ravage salmon.
When the fish first start running, the bears will come out and devour 4-6 fish in a sitting. After a few weeks, the bears will continue to eat salmon but with less ferocity. I shouldn’t say with less ferocity. If you see a bear pull a salmon out of the creek and eat it, it is ferocious.
Perhaps more interesting is the hunting process, where a bear (grizzly or black) will work their way up the creek looking for salmon.
You can see the lucky salmon scurrying away from the bear.
But when things get serious, you don’t want to be the slow salmon.
The bears just pounce on their choice of fish, and more times than not make a catch.
So that is it for our Alaska adventures! I will try to put together some kind of wrap-up on our trip, but if you have followed any of our travels I think you can see we had most awesome adventure in Alaska. And the trip is far from over! Until next time…