Riding the Steward-Cassiar-Highway - Things to know

10 Days | 561.1mi | Riding Time: 54h 54min | 20365 kcal | 27336 vertical feet the-steward-cassiar-highway-description-road-conditions

Shortly before Watson Lake we took the Hwy 37 South. This is also the Steward-Cassiar-Highway and it starts in the South of the Yukon going down all the way to Kitwanga, BC. Used to the wide and open road on the Alaskan Highway, we were surprised of the narrow and curvy road we found at this point. Overall the less width, no road marks on the ground, less traffic and directly through the forest, this highway rather reminded us to a road in the country connecting a few villages instead of being a major highway. But this is also how we wanted it and so we were looking forward for 600mi along this neat road. The first two days we rode through an area were a forest fire destroyed the entirte landscape. We didn’t see a single animal, not even squirrels; it was quiet and even a little spooky. Later somebody explained that this forest was burning for 6 months and only strong rain stopped it. But to our pleasure we already saw new trees of about 2-4 inches height growing on the ground. Shortly after this we found gold miners, who gave us an interview about their interesting job. They had been searching for gold for almost 30 years and the basic way of searching didn’t change, but the machines improved. Instead of using a gold pan they now “pan” with a large machine named shaker. The basic way is still the same, gold being denser than rocks settles further down when shaked and can be collected at the end.the-steward-cassiar-highway-description-road-conditions In the starting rain we kept going south and landed soon in the town named Jade City. There they mine for the mineral jade and they have a store there basically in the middle of nowhere but open year round. We warmed up in there and had a few of the free and fresh brewed coffees. Since the rain wouldn’t stop that day, we decided to camp right next to the store, where we stayed the night for free. After Jade City the weather improved again, the sun came out almost every day but the strong headwind stayed the same. The overall wind direction in British Columbia is from South to North, which should be considered, planning a bicycle trip on the Steward-Cassiar-Highway.the-steward-cassiar-highway-description-road-conditionsOnce we arrived at the Meziadin Junction, we decided to go on a little day trip to Steward, BC and Hyder, Alaska. The Highway down to Hyder is also named “Glacier Highway”. It takes you directly through the mountains with sea-blue glaciers all over. One famous one is the “Bear Glacier”. It lies between the Junction and Steward and flows in a glacier lake directly next to the road. Behind Hyder the Salmon Glacier can be seen. There is a little forest service road, which brings you up all the way and you have a great view down to the endless ice fields of this glacier. The last attraction is the “Fish Creek”. There the long journey of the salmon ends; they lay their eggs and shortly after they die. Bears usually come to this region and they can be spotted very often but not when we were there. Our suggestion: Ask somebody if any bears were seen and if not just save the $5 and keep gpoing directly to the glacier.the-steward-cassiar-highway-description-road-conditions Besides that you should consider some facts when riding the Cassiar about bears. First of all, if you do it around August / September we would say you’re almost guaranteed to see bears there.In the area of the Meziadin Jct. we saw in three days 16 Black Bears. Most of the time they stood next to the road and ate blue berries. As soon as they spotted us some of them just ran away in the bushes but some stayed and crossed the road directly in front of us, not showing any sort of fear. It is breathtaking when you see these animals in their natural environment instead of in the zoo, especially when you are touring with a bicycle. Since we are very weak on a bicycle compared of being inside a car, we approached ever time with special care. We also informed us before our tour about the basic rules how to behave when you see a bear and would give the following suggestions when you are on a bicycle:the-steward-cassiar-highway-description-road-conditions The rule number one was all the time „Let the bear know, you are there and you are coming“! This rule counts for both hikers and bicycle riders. When we discovered a bear in the bushes before he saw us, we tried to make enough noise, so he hears us and doesn’t get surprised. For this we either used our voice or the idling noise of our rear bicycle wheel (Extremely loud on our certain bikes). Sometimes the bear stood up on his hint legs, which is usually not an aggressive sign. By doing so the bear can just see better. The second important rule was never run away. No matter how close the bear is, do not run, because the bear would think you are food he can chase after. You should rather gain some distance by walking slowly away. We had one situation where a Black Bear was very close to us. We stood on the shoulder of the road when suddenly the bear came out of the bushes about 30ft away from us and we remained at our position. First it was eating more berries again but then it did a few more steps towards us. We decided to get away from the bear, so we walked away with our bicycles, constantly observing the bear. Most of the other bears we saw already from far, stopped once they saw us and then we waited until they disappeared in the forest again. None of the bears was showing any aggressive signs and we had never any problems. We even could see a mama bear with three cubs for about an hour trying to cross the road for a few times.the-steward-cassiar-highway-description-road-conditionsFor tenting in this certain region we followed the most important rule of all: Never store, cook or eat anything in your tent. Even Soap or shampoo attracts them, so this should all be kept away from where you sleep. We stored our food safely away in a bear container which was normally about 300m away from our tent. Of course also depending on where you are, in the remote forest you’d put it farther away than in the RV park inside the city. If you follow these basic rules, and when you respect the bears and give them enough room, you will enjoy some really cool bear sightings. Never forget you’re in the territory of the bear and they are very curious animals usually not too aggressive. And some habits we can even find in our behavior as well, like the protection of our own kids. This is just similar with bears, or any other kind of large animal you can find in this area, so never get in between the mother and her baby. Never the less, a bear spray as the last protection will give you a better feeling when you travel through this area. We have our spray in the bottle holder, because you want it to be ready within a heartbeat. It gave us a better feeling and gave us a better feeling during the night especially when we were alone on the campground. the-steward-cassiar-highway-description-road-conditions