The Best For Last

First impressions, not so great…

Crossing the line from Stewart, British Columbia into Hyder, Alaska wasn’t quite as romantic as I’d long envisioned it would be, but my heart still skipped a beat. Alaska! My 50th state!

Hyder General Store #2

With its one narrow, muddy street and two bare-shelved general stores, Hyder wasn’t much to write home about (though I did send out a sheaf of celebratory Alaska postcards) but the drive out of town up to the Salmon Glacier was well worth the 1,400 mile trip up from Vancouver, not to mention the $6/gallon gas…

Second impressions: Oh. My. God.

I spent three days overlooking Salmon Glacier- the fourth largest expanse of ice in North America, a river of ice so wide and white that it covers two countries: far western Canada and the edge of Alaska.

After three whole days of staring at the glacier, I still found it completely, overwhelmingly incomprehensible. Every time I looked at it, every time I opened my eyes, every time I blinked, I was wonderstruck. I hadn’t seen that kind of staggering scale since the Grand Canyon. Could I walk across it? Not without many days and a rope team. The countless crevasses looked big enough to swallow the Raven and the Rattler and many more lay hidden like trapdoors beneath the snow.

Free campsite at the Salmon Glacier Overlook. Love that avalanche warning sign!

Not a bad way to spend 3 days…

I wasn’t alone at the overlook. Keith “the Bear Man” Scott was there too. Keith has lived up there, in a tent, for the past 35 summers, staring at the glacier and getting to know the numerous black and grizzly bears that call the salmon-rich Salmon River valley home.

My first evening at the overlook, I struck up a conversation with Keith, bought a few of his homemade postcards and asked if I could cook him dinner. When I handed him a hot plate of pasta, he smiled and said, “You do this a lot, don’t you?” Why yes, I do.

Sunset at Salmon Glacier. Even after sunset, it stayed light enough that I could see the glacier all night. I kept waking up and peeking out at it, totally awestruck each time.

Jesus light on Salmon Glacier. Clouds started to move in towards the end of my second day at the overlook.

I don’t think it ever occurred to me to make all 50 states a goal. After college, I remember declaring that I was going to live in a new place every year for five years and things just escalated from there. Now here I am, 30 years old, with all of America under my belt. I don’t just mean I’ve driven through all 50 states; I have hiked in all 50 states and gotten to know a part of each of them on foot.

I’ve reached a milestone, but I am far from finished. My mission in life has always been to see as much of the world as possible and I have no intention of slowing down anytime soon. Stay tuned to see lots more of this wonderful world! 🙂

Hello Alaska!

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
This entry was posted in Beyond the USA, Bowie & D.O.G., Hiking!, Photography, Road tripping!, Uncategorized, Vagabonding 101. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to The Best For Last

  1. LA Edwards says:

    congrats on reaching your goal. And indeed what a wonderful way to spend three days. I hope that you will take us around Alaska for a while. It would be nice to continute living vicariously through you. Thanks for sharing with us your story. You should write, and maybe you are, a book of your travels. Your adventures are indeed book worthy. Cheers!

    • Caroline says:

      You said everything I was going to say L.A.Edwards, so I’ll just say “ditto”.

  2. seekraz says:

    Congrats, Mary…what a wonderful accomplishment…something that most of us will only dream of…. It’s been fun following along and sharing in your journeys. 🙂

  3. John says:

    I can’t wait for the email I get telling me you have a new blog up. I wish I was there in person. thank you for sharing the adventures.

  4. Congratulations. Looks like an incredible place. The pictures are awesome.

  5. Diane Sloan says:

    I just found this blog. This is so inspiring, exciting and beautiful. Thanks for writing about it.

  6. What an amazing experience. I loved your photos!

  7. Joni says:

    I”m so proud of you Mary!!! What a way to really live!
    Take care,

  8. Marjorie heintz says:

    LA Edward’s you said it all and more eloquently than I could have. Mary please take us with you on your next adventure. I can’t get around anymore due to the side effects of chemo, you are doing all the things that I wanted to do.I can’t go co,d turkey. Thank you again. Marjorie

  9. ehpem says:

    What a terrific accomplishment, especially the way you have done, putting your feet to work on the ground of each state. I think maybe Canada has to be next – not a lot of provinces and territories, but stretched out far apart.

  10. Don West says:

    “I kept waking up and peeking out at it…”

    You’re cute and sweet with the wonderment of a wide-eyed child 🙂 Retaining that at thirty years of age is an accomplishment too Mary. Perhaps an even greater one 😉

    Kudos on your achievement and looking forward to seeing more!

  11. jeff says:

    WOW! That last picture of you with your hands in the air is so amazing.

  12. your to cool, as alway’s great pic’s .thank’s gary

  13. Megan says:

    Congratulations! You are an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  14. Rosemary says:

    I just found your blog by accident. WOW!
    I am blown away by your stories and amazing pictures. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. What I would give to start a journey of my own my spirit is yelling GO!!!!! But common sense kicks in. MAN!!!! Maybe someday but for now I will continue to follow your journey. Thank u so much Rosemary

  15. Glenn says:

    Hyder! Nice. I once dreamed of Hyder (and then when I finally visited it, found it to be a bit of a disappointment as well). But Stewart is nice and the drive out there is awesome. It’s beautiful country down there, even if my fellow Alaskans have made a bit of a mess of it.

  16. Fernweh says:

    Wow! Congrats on that great accomplishment! I just found your blog and love your pictures. Can’t wait to read more and see where you head next!

  17. Danielle says:

    Congrats! That is so amazing! I love that you have actually hiked in all of them. I have visited a lot of them but it was before hiking became a passion for me so I counted driving through as seeing them. I love the idea of hiking in every state! Especially Alaska! Amazing!

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