May 13 - Kamloops (British Columbia), Jasper, Edmonton (Alberta) (Vancouver, British Columbia to Nova Scotia Train Journey)

I had only slept a few hours when I woke up just as the train was pulling into Kamloops North. The train takes the north shore of the Frazer River when heading east and the south shore when heading west I discovered from the overly enthusiastic female steward who was responsible for the passenger car I was in.

The main lights in the passenger cars were all out apart from some subdued lighting allowing passengers to see where they are going. As I headed to the washroom I could see that I was the only one still awake in my car. Everyone else was sprawled out across his or her seats under blankets. A guy halfway down the train was snoring loudly. Normally passengers are provided with 2 seats side by side depending on occupancy so they have plenty of room. When reclined and footrests raised level with the seats they provide a fairly decent sleeping space.

Later in the day as the sun began to rise I walked down to the cafeteria. On the train there facilities provided to passengers included the cafeteria, restaurant, takeout counter, lounge for smoking and the dome car with 360-degree observation deck. Not forgetting the ball game style beer vender who would periodically wander up and down the passenger cars shouting “cold beer, get your beer here, cold beer”!

I joined another man who was by himself in the pretty much empty cafe serving breakfast. It was 7am and we were just entering the Rocky Mountains. We both had a breakfast of eggs, ham, pancakes and fruit juice. The meals served on the trains are of pretty good quality and even though you have no other choices of where to eat they are at pretty good prices.

The other passenger and I chatted through breakfast, he was coming from northern British Columbia near Alaska where he did some contract work with the government in forestry research. He was on his way back to Ontario to work. He was just taking the train as far as Edmonton to see the Rockies and then he would fly direct to Thunder Bay, Ontario.

After breakfast I went up to the dome car where I met another passenger, Michelle. She was sat working on her laptop. Another interesting passenger on her way to Toronto from Vancouver, we chatted for a while until she went back to her seat. The passenger I talked to at breakfast joined me in the dome car and we sat and looked at the incredible scenery and various wildlife, which in the space of the morning included 5 bears, 8 moose, 2 beavers, a herd of long horn sheep, mountain goats and a few elk, all easily viewed from the train.

As we winded around the mountains through tunnels and over bridges we came around a mountain side to a view I recognised. Ahead was Whistlers Mountain, which lies to the south west of Jasper Township. The hillside we were rounding is where I had seen bears in my bike ride around Jasper earlier in the month.

As the train pulled into Jasper I jumped off and headed to an Internet Café. Being here before proved an advantage because I knew where everything was located. The best pizza place in the world was just at the end of the street so I went there and grabbed myself a 2 topping 8 inch pizza for $5!!! As I arrived back at the station with 10 minutes to spare before the train departed I met the forestry passenger again so we sat and shared the pizza as we waited.

The train detached a couple of cars, which were to be used on another train making our train 27 cars long! That is a pretty long train, over 600m in length plus 3 engines.

We set off again through familiar terrain. I had arrived into Jasper along the same route and spent a lot of time outside cycling and walking around the surrounding area too. This gave me a bit of an advantage as far as wildlife spotting goes. Many of the animals can be found in the same locations so it was easy to spot more moose, sheep, goats, elk and deer.

As the train passed back through the Rockies and into the foothills, the terrain became flatter and flatter with every passing hour. By the time we had reached Edmonton it was obvious the mountainous terrain had passed and the flat Prairies would occupy the view for the next 40 hours.

The small out of town station at Edmonton was busy with passengers boarding and disembarking. When the train stops for any extended period of time, nearly the whole train disembarks to get some fresh air and stretch their legs. The late afternoon sun made sitting outside quite hot so most people were in the station building.

When I boarded the train again I met a passenger who had just boarded in Edmonton. David was also heading on an adventure, starting with the train to Toronto. We sat and talked for a few hours in the dome car until the sun began to set.

Just before midnight the train crossed into Saskatchewan at the small settlement of Unity.

Related Pages

Travel Guide - British Columbia
Travel Guide - Alberta
Travel Guide - Saskatchewan
Travel Guide - Getting Around in Canada
Travel by Train in Canada

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