A Travellerspoint blog

Vancouver to Calgary


semi-overcast 45 °F

We got to sleep in about 30 minutes more this morning before we had breakfast and headed out on our Jasper Tour to the Jasper National Park.


Our first stop was Medicine Lake: Medicine Lake is a geologic anomaly in the sense that it is not actually a lake but rather an area in which the Maligne River (flowing from Maligne Lake into the Athabasca River) backs up and suddenly disappears underground as a losing stream. During the summer months during intensified meltwater runoff the lake (which during the winter months is a meandering frozen river) fills to levels which fluctuate over time and with the runoff events. Much like a bathtub that is filled too fast for it to drain, it becomes laden with water (lake) until it can slowly drain as the tap flow (runoff) is reduced (river).


We then traveled to Maligne Lake for a spectacular boat tour to Spirit Island for some great photo opportunities. The lake is famed for the color of its azure water, the surrounding peaks, the three glaciers visible from the lake, and Spirit Island, a frequently and very famously photographed islet. Maligne Lake is fed and drained by the Maligne River, which enters the lake on its south side, near Mount Unwin and drains the lake to the north. Maligne Lake, as well as Maligne River, Maligne Mountain, and Maligne Pass, takes its name from the French word for malignant or wicked. The name was used by Father Pierre-Jean De Smet (1801–1873) to describe the turbulent river that flows from the lake (in the spring), and soon spread to the lake, canyon, pass, mountain and range. It is also possible that early French traders applied the name to the river for its treacherous confluence with the Athabasca River.


Our final stop was the Maligne Canyon where we had a short walk to view the canyon and a wonderful buffet lunch. Eroded out of the Palliser Formation, the canyon measures over 50 metres (160 ft) deep.Also at this point numerous large underground streams join and greatly amplify the flow. The canyon is constantly being eroded by the churning and swirling of the water. The effect of this has made the width 2 metres (6.6 ft) across at some points and a depth of 50 metres (160 ft). Limestone is one of the most dominant minerals within the canyon. It was deposited in a shallow tropical sea by plankton which secrete limestone.


Posted by rpickett 00:24 Archived in Canada Tagged alberta jasper Comments (1)

Vancouver to Calgary

Quensel to Jasper Alberta

semi-overcast 55 °F

Today we boarded the train at sun-up for the all day trip across a time zone and province to Jasper, Alberta, which is in the Mountain Time Zone. We also shifted from the Cariboo to the Rockies. It was a stunning transition. The highlight was passing Mt. Robson - of which we saw about 50% - the tallest mountain in the region at more than 15,000 feet above sea level. The train treated us well with a Chocolate overload for desert at lunch and a wine and cheese tasting just before we arrived in Jasper. We arrived in Jasper just after sunset.

We switched Engineers and Conductors at St. George when we changed to the Grand Trunk Line. We were allowed to go faster and the Engineer had to have a different license for this set of trains tracks.


Posted by rpickett 23:55 Archived in Canada Tagged to jasper quesnel Comments (0)

Vancouver to Calgary

Whistler to Quesnel

semi-overcast 65 °F

Today we boarded our busses at 7:00am for the 30 minute trip from Whistler to Pemberton where we boarded the train for our 550km trip to Quesnel. (The 's' is not pronounced). Today, we were in the second seating so we had a pre-breakfast of a hot scone and coffee. We also had a great late lunch with super food and plenty of wine, all included. Our trip took us through the Frasier River Valley, into the Cariboo region to Quesnel

The Fraser Valley is a geographical region in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, and typically describes the Fraser River basin downstream of the Fraser Canyon. This section of the Fraser River is known by local indigenous peoples as "Sto:lo" in the Halqemeylem language of the area, and this term has been adopted to refer to all of the indigenous peoples of the Fraser Lowland, other than the Squamish and Musqueam. The indigenous peoples of the area have long made use of the river valley for agricultural and commercial exploits and continue to do so today.

The Cariboo region is located in the central interior of British Columbia. It is situated between the Cariboo Mountains to the east and reaches west across the Fraser River plateau to the Coast Mountains. Major cities in the Cariboo region include 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel.

The geography of the Cariboo region is diverse and varies considerably over short distances. It encompasses the Cariboo and Coast Mountain ranges, the Central Plateau and numerous lakes and rivers. Major rivers that bisect the region include the Fraser, Chilcotin, Chilko, Quesnel, Cariboo and Horsefly. The vegetation of the region also varies ranging from dry grasslands to spruce, pine, and fir forests at low- to mid-elevations. Inland temperate rain forests and alpine forests are also found in the region. The Cariboo region is rich with the indigenous history and culture of the Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in, and Dakelh First Nations.
Long before the arrival of prospectors during the Cariboo Gold Rush of 1862, the Southern Carrier (Dakelh) people lived off the land around Quesnel, occupying the area from the Bowron Lakes in the east to the upper Blackwater River and Dean River in the west. The Southern Carrier Nation were known among themselves as ‘Uda Ukelh’, meaning ‘people who travel by boat on water early in the morning’.The name "Quesnel" is derived from Jules Maurice Quesnel, who accompanied Simon Fraser on his journey to the Pacific Ocean.




Posted by rpickett 03:33 Archived in Canada Tagged to whistler quesnel Comments (0)

Vancouver to Calgary

Vancouver to Whistler

sunny 66 °F

We met in the lobby of the hotel at 7:00am this morning for the short bus trip to North Vancouver to board the Rocky Mountaineer. We settled in our assigned seats and the train started forward at 8:00AM. Breakfast is served on board in two shifts and we had the first shift today and will be the second shift tomorrow. The train seats in Gold Leaf service are heated spacious and very comfortable with multiple position buttons to push. Each car has 4 staff members to take care of any need with all beverages, snacks and food included. The train is very accessible for folks with movement disability in that there is an elevator between the lower dining area and the upper viewing and seating area. The trip to Whistler is short and we arrived at the Whistler train station at about Noon and the buses transported us to the Fairmont Chateau in the upper village. Our rooms were ready when we arrived, and we got our keys outside as we stepped off the bus.

Whistler is a town north of Vancouver, British Columbia, that's home to Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski resorts in North America. Besides skiing and snowboarding, the area offers snowshoeing, tobogganing and ski jumping at the Olympic Park, a venue for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. The hub of Whistler is a compact, chalet-style pedestrian village at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Over two million people visit Whistler annually, primarily for alpine skiing and snowboarding and, in the summer, mountain biking at Whistler Blackcomb. Its pedestrian village has won numerous design awards, and Whistler has been voted among the top destinations in North America by major ski magazines since the mid-1990s. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler hosted most of the alpine, Nordic, luge, skeleton, and bobsled events.

I wandered the village after we settled in the room and we are looking forward to dinner in the hotel tonight.


Posted by rpickett 00:32 Archived in Canada Tagged whistler Comments (0)

Vancouver to Calgary

Rocky Mountaineer

sunny 66 °F

Can you believe it? After 18 months (March 4, 2020) I am fully vaccinated awaiting the booster and am traveling again!

This trip has been on my bucket list for a long time - the Gold Leaf Service on the Rocky Mountaineer train tour from Vancouver to Calgary. This trip is rated one of the top 10 train trips in the world, and by some raters, the number 1.

The entry in to Canada was cumbersome but smooth. A PCR covid test within 72 hours of entering, downloading and filling out the ArriveCan travel app, which contains numerous questions, and then showing everything to the boarding agent prior to boarding the last flight connection to Canada, and then again to the customs agent in Vancouver.

Once through, our limo driver (part of the tour) was waiting for us and we spent the night at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, across the street from Canada Place Cruise Terminal.

Because of the very strict COVID policies in Canada, no cruise ships will have departed Canada Place in 2 years. This has been a killer for the businesses around the waterfront. In fact, the Waterfront Hotel closed for 5 months at the start of the pandemic. The Canadian Government says that large cruise ships can start visiting again in November, meaning the 2022 cruise season.

The Alaska congressional delegation got a reprieve from the Jones Act for this year, so that cruises could sail round trip from Seattle to Alaska without stopping in Canada. There is a current proposal by the Alaska Delegation to make this a permanent exception, so that the businesses in Southeast Alaska will not be dependent on the Canadian Government. I have to say, it's strange not seeing cruise ships at Canada Place, having sailed out of here at least 4 times


Posted by rpickett 00:04 Archived in Canada Tagged vancouver Comments (1)

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