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Riding the Rails

Post Date: August 12, 2016 by josiemounsey


Sunday, June 26, 2016, 7:30 a.m.  We board the Rocky Mountaineer at Vancouver North Station, and are soon settled in to our comfortable GoldLeaf class seats in the dome car.  We are on second sitting for breakfast but, while we wait, feast on delicious cranberry scones, fresh out of the oven, with lashings of butter, jam, and coffee.  Amazing vistas open up as the train heads up the Pacific Great Eastern rail line, tracking the Sea to Sky Corridor to Whistler.  After emerging from the mile-long Horseshoe Bay Tunnel, we travel along the side of Howe Sound, a glacially-carved fjord.

P1040671Mountains loom in the background, as the track winds over bridges and canyons.P1040708








Late morning, we arrive in Whistler village and soon check in to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.  Outside, the Sunday Market is in full swing.


Then we’re off on the cable car to the top of Whistler Mountain, where great views await.



Amazing that on this late June day, snow lingers on the slopes.

Right:  Inukshuk (Inuit for ‘in the likeness of a human’ – a rather stiff-limbed one!) at the top of Whistler Mountain





The Peak2Peak Gondola connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.  Some of the ‘cars’ have glass floors!









Early the next morning we are back on board The Rocky Mountaineer heading North toward the far distant rural town of Quesnel, gateway to the North Cariboo.

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Outside Whistler, properties dot the shoreline of Green Lake, and the Green River rushes alongside the train tracks as we feast on a delicious breakfast.

At the rear of the train, we pause on the open-air section.  Mountains and forest provide a stunning backdrop.


















Beyond the old gold mining town of Lillooet, the train traverses the Fraser River girder bridge – 800 ft. long and 190 ft. high.










We are well into afternoon drinks as we wend our way through the Cariboo plateau, passing ranches once owned by British aristocracy – we can only imagine the parties that went on here ….



…. or how many sins were confessed in this modest wayside chapel!














It is late evening when we arrive in Quesnel and transfer to the Best Western Tower Inn.







At 7:10 a.m., we are back on board the train and wend our way out of Quesnel.  The small city was once the commercial centre of the Cariboo Gold Rush.  Now, forest product industries predominate.






The Fraser River rushes beneath as we traverse the Cottonwood Bridge – 1,023 ft. long and 236 ft. high.






The river edges the tracks and forests of pine and birch slip past as we head toward Prince George at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako rivers.  The railway yards are all we see of this town of some 80,000 people!




We pass the smallest post office in Canada – one wonders about its client base, as it seems to be in the middle of a forest!
















After lunch, we enter the Rocky Mountain Trench, between the Rockies, Cariboo and Columbia ranges.

















At 12,972 ft., Mount Robson is the highest mountain in the Rockies.  The Texqakallt, the earliest inhabitants of the area, call it Yuh-hai-has-kun, “The Mountain of the Spiral Road” – maybe because of the multiple ridges on the mountain.



















It is late afternoon by the time the train arrives in Jasper.  People flock on to the area in front of the station to wave as this iconic train grinds to a halt.  We bid farewell to the crew and head to the Jasper Park Lodge.  The rest of our trip through the Rockies will be by coach.

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