7-25-04 Smithers, British Columbia to Dease Lake, British Columbia
via the Cassiar... with a side trip to Stewart and Hyder.

I slept well, over the covers.  The room never cooled down overnight.  After reloading the bike, I hit the road.

          At Moricetown Falls and Canyon, I stopped to photograph the cascades caused by the Bulkley River squeezing its quarter-mile wide surface through rock outcroppings and into a narrow gorge in a thunderous blast of water.

The gorge

          The locals were out fishing for salmon, sweeping long-handled nets into the currents.

Telkwa fishing

            Shortly after, I stopped to put on the rain gear again. 

            The weather was overcast, with a steady rain over the next few miles, but the rain wasn't intense enough to pool on the road.  I broke through the rain into partly cloudy skies. After refueling at Kitwanga, I turned right onto the Cassiar Highway and headed north.  There wasn't much traffic on the Cassiar.  There weren't many people out there, either.  I went through some wet gravel, leaving both the bike and me dirty.

          A short distance up the Cassiar at Meziadin Junction, I turned left onto the Stewart/Hyder road (39A) for a recommended side trip.  The road immediately plunged into a gorge, with waterfalls and glaciers towering overhead.

The road to Stewart

          One of the glaciers makes it almost to the road.  The Bear Glacier has receded from the roadway, but is still close enough to enjoy.  The light shines through its ice with a peculiar blue tint.

Bear Glacier

     I glimpsed part of a waterfall through the trees and high on the  slopes, and pulled off for a closer look.


          The road entered Stewart after going through a series of sweeps.  Almost to the international border, I pulled off to take a photo back towards Stewart.  Just as I pulled off, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police unit scared the bejesus out of me by lighting me up and blowing his siren. I never saw him coming up behind me.   The RCMP officer said he stopped me for lack of a license plate.  I told him he would have been stupid not to, but surprisingly, he was the first on my trip to check if the bike was licensed.  I showed him the paper license I carried in the tank bag (I left before the permanent plate arrived) and we talked about the bike.  He was interested in getting his 8 year old son a trail bike, and wanted something to ride along with.  I recommended the KLR.  I told him that the bike was dependable and that used prices were reasonable.

After a nice talk, I went into Hyder.  There was no US border check going into Alaska.

          It was a contrast of night and day.  Where Stewart was neat, clean, and orderly, the town of Hyder was composed of rutted out roads and haphazard architecture.  I started to drive into the Tongas National Forest to see the Salmon Glacier, but there was too much dust from too many RVs.  I turned back towards Stewart.


            At the border, the guard told me to shut off the bike.  He asked if I was the same red bike pulled over down the road.  I said, “yes”. The guard asked how long I was in Alaska.  I said “20 minutes – too crowded”.  He waved me through.  I think the Canadian Mountie must have put in a word for me.

             Once back in Stewart, I stopped to wander around Stewart's park, located on the estuary of the Portland Canal.  The estuary is at the end of a 90 mile fjord, reaching all the way to the Pacific Ocean.  In fact, Stewart is a deep water port.

Stewart park

Steart Estuary

           The road in reverse was just as much fun.  Once back in Meziadin Junction, I refueled and returned to the northbound Cassiar.

Rough road and wind indicators

          The only bad part of the Cassiar experience were the numerous stretches of loose gravel interspersed with the pavement.  Areas needing repair were marked by sticks with orange flags placed alongside the roadway.  The flags served to warn both of rough areas and to mark the direction and intensity of the winds gusting across the roadway.

The Cassiar Highway

          I had the entire highway to myself.

           I hit rain again.  There were no problems with my gear.  The rain boots purchased in Calgary gave me everything I needed for all-weather riding.


            The conditions on the Cassiar Highway became progressively better as I headed into the day's final stretch to Dease Lake.

          I started to increase my speed, but still stopped late in the day at Upper Gnat Lake for pictures. 

Gnat Lake

Lake with fire weed

          I arrived at the Dease Lake Hotel 20 minutes too late for dinner.  I went to bar next door, but their kitchen was also closed.

          It was 11 PM, and sky was still lit.  Full darkness would be around 11:30 PM.

          I was staying at a beautiful hotel.

          Long days make for long drives.  I needed to stop earlier.  A fellow traveler recommended:  ride ‘til 5, then look for a hotel.  Any later during the high tourist season risks running into full bookings and no available rooms.

          And finally, the Cassiar combined with the Stewart/Hyder Highway was one great ride.