Fall Foliage Through Domes
Fall Foliage Through Domes
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Vancouver to Whistler

The Open and Slow Whistler Sea to Sky Climb and Afternoon in Whistler
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The trip started early as we had to be in the lobby of our hotel at 6:50. From there it took about half an hour for the single Rocky Mountaineer representative to hand us our boarding passes and tag our luggage so it could go beneath the bus and be delivered separately. Then it was a short bus ride north across to North Vancouver where the platform for the train to Whistler is. First we had to pass by the train attendants that have been on strike since June and knowing the details from both sides I can't decide who's right. These strikers kept following the train and flashing their signs at various grade crossings along the route.

Back to the trip. We got to the station at 7:45 and I quickly walked the simple platform in a rail yard. It was complete with a bagpipe player to serenade us and flags for the Rocky Mountaineer at the staircase entrances for each car. There were a few tents and a wooden shelter as the closest items to a station. There was a table with coffee and some pastries. I didn't indulge but in retrospect I should have grabbed some. I quickly did a photo essay within the platform area, got on board my classic service restored CN 1950s vintage rail coach and we left at 8:10. The train really doesn't follow a clear schedule, it just leaves once everyone is aboard.
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We left the train yard, the station crew waving as our attendant went over the safety instructions. She then served us 'breakfast' consisting of a croissant sandwich with cheese, ham and hard boiled eggs, something I would never think to buy but was quite good. There was also a package of sliced apples and grapes neither of which I Iike. Even after eating half of my grandmother's sandwich and a waffle in the Hampton Inn I was still hungry.

During breakfast we went through the fancy suburbs of North Vancouver and West Vancouver, realizing that we were seated on the right, the non-Sound Side of the train and that the open-air observation car was closed during meal service. After the attendant had gotten the breakfast cart out of the way I went up to the open dutch door at 8:52 and then was told the vintage open air observation car was open right after we went through Horseshoe tunnel, over a mile long, the first and longest of all the tunnels we went through on the trip as we curved to follow Howe Sound. We stayed up there, my grandmother joining me as the train slowed for scenic reasons so we could enjoy crossing our first waterfall at MP 21.8, following Howe Sound for a good 20 minutes until getting too cold and going back to our seats.
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I then rushed back to the open door in our car to get a unique view of our train following Highway 99 which we continued to do for the rest of our trip.
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Howe Sound started getting narrower and narrower, and I walked back to the observation car before returning to my seat and hearing about the Furry Creek golf course, so confusing and spectacular the carts are equipped with GPSs.
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I kept wandering from the train seat to open window, really wishing more trains had them, such a wonderfully different experience, passing the Squamish Chief, world class climbing destination. The strikers following the train also made another appearance.

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Next we left the Sound behind and went by the town of Squamish passing a simple concrete platform with a yellow line in use until 2002 when BC Rail discontinued passenger services.
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This was followed by the North Squamish Rail Yard where tomorrow's train was visible with its two GP40 Locomotives, generator car, four single level ex-CN coaches for Red Leaf service and two Colorado Railcar bilevel Ultra Domes for Gold Leaf Service which I'll be riding in tomorrow.

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The train then started to climb, with our first fall foliage visible, going through tunnels passing and rising up into Cheakamus Canyon, slowing down to go over a bridge and following the roaring river.
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I then decided to go to the very back of the train for some rear vestibule shots of our two locomotives pulling the generator car followed by a regular coach who's occupancy I couldn't confirm, the two single level domes for Whistler Dome service (complete with a hot meal-really the only amenity that would have been nice, the open air observation car makes the taller windows less necessary), the vintage observation car, and three regular single-level Whistler Classic Cars. I also had my only real random chat out here with an Australian gentlemen discussing trains there. A system most similar to North America it seems from my online research, he'd ridden the 700 miles of straight track to Perth once.
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I continued my wondering from seat to open windows as we continued up and over a few more waterfalls.
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Soon we arrived in Whistler and being in the second to last car it was hard to tell we had. The platform was a bare strip of concrete, far away from the track, with only the last and only one of the dome cars platforming. For access the onboard step traps were used as well as a second block of two steps and a mat. Don't want any retirees to trip! I also saw the mobile lift in use quite a bit. These are the same type that have been popping up on every Amtrak platform.

We had to walk the length of the platform, I got my pictures, before going over a short bridge and though the small station out to the waiting motor coaches for what turned out to be a 3 mile trip into Whistler, when I asked an employee if I could walk she said no you must take the bus.
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The rest of the day was similar to the day before, me and my grandmother went out for a late lunch and dinner together, in between I went for a 4 mile hike through the foothills, she a walk through the village that reminds me of any modern ski resort town village in Colorado. Keystone, Colorado felt most similar except there are multiple lakes too.
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The Next Morning the Journey Continues Towards the Canadian Rockies By Numerous Lakes

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Fall Foilage Through Domes

Last Updated: 28 November, 2011
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