Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Salmon Glacier

The following day we decided to stay in Hyder and relax. I’d been living on Advil for the pain in my arm, and we hoped a days rest would make a difference. We started off walking to a local organic coffee shop where the owners roast their own beans. The coffee was great, and the conversation even better. One of the owners shares my love of photography so we had a wonderful time discussing cameras and pictures and everything that goes along with.
After coffee we wandered around town seeing what there was to see. Everywhere we stopped the question was the same. Have you been to Salmon Glacier yet? The glacier is about 25 miles out of town with a road that runs alongside, then above the glacier. We hadn’t intended to do any riding that day, but decided we’d better not miss the highlight of town, and planned a ride for mid-afternoon. For lunch we stopped back at the coffee shop and met a couple from Seattle who had flown their motorcycles to Anchorage, and were riding home after going up the haul road to Prudhoe Bay. The guy was riding a BMW 1200 GS, the same as my husband’s bike, and the woman was riding a BMW 650 GS identical to mine, down to the color. We really enjoyed trading stories, especially since their ride was essentially ours in reverse. It was also enlightening to hear that they had faced many of the same difficulties we had, from communication problems with radios to her dropping the bike. I’m not alone after all!
It made the meeting even more special when they mentioned how uncomfortable their seats were. My husband and I had gotten sheepskin seat covers from Alaska Leather in Anchorage before we knew we would go to Rich’s for custom seats. Since our motorcycles were identical to theirs, the covers fit perfectly. They bought them from us and installed them on the spot. It was cool to know they went to someone who could use them, and it saved us a trip to the bank in Stewart to replenish our dwindling cash supply. We also told them to get in touch with Rich if they intended to do more long rides. They said they’d make an appointment to see him as soon as they got back to Seattle.
After lunch Bobby and I headed up toward the glacier. We stopped first at a bear-viewing stream. No fish were in the stream yet, so no bears. I think the bears were just at home recovering from the parade…. Anyway, from there we started up the road to Salmon Glacier. The road is gravel, mostly hard packed, but as we got closer to the top it had sections of bad washboard, loose gravel, rock slides on the road, and hairpin turns all with 1000 foot plus drop-offs, no guardrails, and a steep grade. After struggling the first few miles I finally relaxed and began to enjoy the ride and the unbelievable view. As rough and difficult as it was, and as beautiful as the scenery, I ended up loving that ride. I finally began to regain that feeling I remembered having as a kid when driving a dirt bike at insane speed over dirt trails. Things began to come together. I was even able to develop a technique for sliding to one side of my seat before stopping so I could safely stop even on rough roads. Yes!
That evening we ate dinner at The Bus; a school bus converted into a diner that serves wonderful freshly caught fish. Everyone asks, “Have you eaten at the bus?” Rumor has it the owner’s husband is a fisherman who supplies the food. Whether that story is true or not, it’s a neat place to eat where everyone shares tables and stories of how they came to be in Hyder, along with the more typical conversation among tourists about what they do at home. The people near us were all interested in our motorcycles and wished us luck on the trip up the Cassiar.

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