Prime Position SEO General The train in Canada that transports hitchhikers

The train in Canada that transports hitchhikers

In comparison to Canada’s more well-known routes, the Skeena is far less well-known. However, it is one of the world’s most beautiful rail journeys – and it is still vital to local communities.

A line of SUVs came to a halt, horns blaring, before the cause of the snarl became clear: a mule deer and her fawn trotted between the cars, then hopped onto the pavement and continued on their way to the train station. I was in downtown Jasper, Alberta, Canada, a ski village-style mountain town with wandering elk and gift shops selling bear spray at the counter.

The alpine town of 4,200 residents is located in the heart of Jasper National Park and serves as a major junction on some of Canada’s most important railway routes. The Canadian and (a transcontinental passenger train from Vancouver to Toronto) The luxury Rocky Mountaineer (whose routes include scenic trains in Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies) and the Rocky Mountaineer (whose routes include scenic trains in Western Canada and the Canadian Rockies) are a regular feature of the landscape, their carriages dwarfed by peaks gathered like a group of elders.

However, there is a third, lesser-known train that departs Jasper three times per week, transporting passengers to the far reaches of British Columbia. The Grand Trunk Pacific Railway completed the 1,160km line in 1914, connecting Jasper to Prince Rupert, a port city on Canada’s northwestern coast. The journey takes two days, with an overnight stop in Prince George, and is known locally as the “Skeena” or the “Rupert Rocket” by VIA Rail. It is virtually unknown by international tourists in comparison to Canada’s more celebrated routes, but it is one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys, providing a vital lifeline to local communities.

When I boarded the Skeena on a glorious autumn afternoon, the sky was electric blue. As we rolled out of Jasper and picked up speed, the Rockies sparkled in the sun. The top half of the carriage vestibule door latched like a stable door, so I swung it open as a tornado of cotton wool spun past, dandelion heads carried away by the wind. We caught the attention of a lone angler in waders who waved up from the beach-like bank of the Fraser River, which is home to coho, chinook, pink, and sockeye salmon. During the first hour, turquoise rapids roared alongside the track, golden eagles soar, and the sharp scent of balsam fir and pine whipped through the open doorways.

Tracy MacLean, the on-board service manager, announced the approach to Moose Lake, which was as clear as a sheet of glass, with the forest reflecting off its perfect surface. We rounded a curve, running tight to rock faces slicked with ice walls, to find Mount Robson rising through the blue, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. It resembled a volcano venting steam at the summit, with glaciers grazing its sides.

There were regular signs of the area’s industrial past – and present – in between oxbow lakes, banks of yellow snapdragons, and feathery fingers of conifer stroking the sides of the train, where gold panners, sternwheelers, farmers, and fishermen made up many of the communities dotted along the line. However, between abandoned sawmills, quarries, and towns called Penny and Dunster, where double-digit populations live around little more than a post office and a gas station, it is First Nations reserves that predominate.

The train began to slow late in the afternoon, while passengers were dozing or scanning for moose and caribou, and came to an abrupt halt by a forest. When the train eased off again, there was murmuring down the carriage and a few passengers craned their necks to see if there had been a wildlife sighting. The Skeena had stopped as a flag-stop service to pick up a mushroom picker who had wandered out of the trees and flagged down the train.

On one of my last trips, I picked up two hunters who were lost and couldn’t find their way back to their truck

“We’re the only way to get in and out of remote areas,” MacLean explained, adding that the engineers and staff are always on the lookout for regulars who get on and off the train: hermits, remote dwellers, and fishermen. “They’ll say just before we drop them off, ‘I think I’ll be coming out of the bush a week next Friday, keep an eye out for me.'” I then inform the engineers, who take note and keep an eye out for the individual at that point.”

“On one of my recent trips, I picked up two hunters who were lost and couldn’t find their way back to their truck,” she added. They went down to the tracks because they could hear the train: They were filthy, very cold, hungry, and just so happy to see humanity when they got on that I didn’t even charge them.”

The train slowed into Prince George for its obligatory stopover as the sun began to set, turning the lakes to molten lava. I spoke with train engineer Ed Neis after most passengers disembarked, tourists filtering off into nearby hotels, and discovered that the Skeena was once an overnight service. “We had a cook car on here, we had roomettes at the back, it was beautiful. “I believe they phased it out in 1993,” Neis said. “The downturn in the economy was bad, and so the railways got together with the local mayors and made an agreement with these communities to bring business to them. They agreed to have this train stop in Prince George. If we go through it all over again, Ridership would skyrocket.”

The train left while passengers were eating breakfast the next morning, following the curves of the Nechako River, a major tributary of the Fraser River that swung back into view beneath mounds of white froth and fizz. A number of First Nations women boarded the train in Smithers, and after a brief pause, MacLean mentioned the Highway of Tears, a 725-kilometer stretch of road that runs parallel to the tracks. Due to poverty and a severe lack of public transportation along Highway 16 other than a twice-weekly bus, a number of young women have gone missing while hitchhiking between Smithers (where the locals are known as Smithereens) and Prince Rupert since the 1950s.

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