Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Maori proverb: Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head , let it
be to a lofty mountain
That seems to be all that we have been doing: bowing our heads to lofty mountains. The Haines Highway was declared a Scenic Byway, that is truly a huge understatement. Once we left Haines and approached the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve the scenery became one mountain range after another. And they weren’t miles and miles away, they came right down to the river and the highway. Every bend in the road presented another gorgeous scene-picture postcard perfect. You can’t miss this highway. If the weather holds we want to come back in September for the gathering of the eagles. Sometimes they have have up to 3500 eagles at one time. The braided delta of the Chilkat River is a perfect feeding ground for them , and five varieties of salmon spawn there in September. The highway follows the Chilkat River for a good portion of the way until you climb the pass .
A nice surprise about boon docking on this highway , is that the border crossing, in Fraser, closes at 11pm PST and doesn’t open again until 7am PST-so no traffic at all. Overnighting in a roadside pullout is like having your own private campground We saw 3 cars the entire evening we were camped there, and all before 6pm. It was so quiet and serene. Wild columbines were blooming along side the road. The river rushing over the gravel and rocks lulled us to sleep.
What a treat to wake up to the mountains in the morning and have this incredible place to ourselves. Again, can’t recommend this route enough. Whether you are heading north from Haines , or south from Haines Junction-fill up and make sure you have everything you need-no services until you get just outside Haines Junction.
We thought driving through the Eagle Preserve was beautiful-we didn’t have any idea of what was ahead of us. We had mostly sunny skies with some low clouds mixed with very light fog. The skies were as blue as could be, the snow bright white and the waters a mix ranging from indigo blue to aquamarine to emerald.
I don’t know how crowded the highway gets in September but unless a blizzard hits we are definitely going to try and make it back here before we head home.
When we got to the border crossing it was so very nice-Franc, a French Canadian came out to greet us and once we got the questions out of the way we had time to talk to him. He had just relocated here from the Northern Idaho Canadian crossing-only a few weeks ago. He committed to 2 years at this location-which is in the middle of nowhere. We asked him about groceries and he explained he and his wife had bought enough for the 2 years and he would take a moose this winter too. Housing at this crossing is provided to the agents. There were , I think, 6 homes set back on the road. He loved it and thought he might even consider staying longer than the 2 years. He told us about his 25 year old daughter who was a truck driver at a mining operation in Canada. Not just an ordinary truck but a 600 ton, yes 600 ton , with wheels taller than a 6 ft man ! She had been doing it for a few years and had decided she was going to make a life out of it-at $100,000+ a year I would too!
We saw a big Class A coming up in our rear view mirror and had to say goodbye to our friendly border crossing agent.
Once we made it over the pass, the scenery changed a bit, more rounded mountains with snow dotted the landscape and the valley opened up. If you drive this highway don’t forget to stop and take pictures of the scenery behind you too- it’s as incredible as the scenery in front of you.
Happy Trails and safe travels my friends and may you have something in your life that takes your breath away.