I suppose I should say something about the Rocky Mountaineer trip while I have the time.
Chaotic organisation at first, but on the train itself, superb. Great food and service. Plenty of alcohol if you wanted, all included. We were on the Gold Leaf package.
First day was more about the rivers – relatively little in the way of ascent. Some stunning views.
Second day was more about the Rockies. If I’m honest, this was a little disappointing, as we didn’t enter the Rockies until right near the end. Up to that point, it had been fine and pleasant, but not spectacular. Mainly travelling between avenues of trees. These trees did make taking pictures very frustrating at times, as they often had to be snatched between gaps, which may explain the poor quality. I suppose I was expecting a longish time right amongst the mountains, but it wasn’t really like that. Don’t get me wrong – it was a super trip and very comfortable – but still…. Overhyped expectations, I suppose. And Mount Robson was truly majestic.
Now, to today. Bit of confusion at the start, as there were so many tour buses, but Sundog Tours turned up with a pretty full bus already. Panic when our names weren’t on the driver’s list, but turning the page showed our entitlement to be there. Phew…..
An interesting drive up towards Lake Maligne, with the well-informed driver telling us about the local geology. Mainly limestone gouged out by glacial activity over aeons. However, Pyramid Mountain (below) is quartzite with iron in it, the hardest mineral in the Rockies. The iron explains the red and brown colours of the rocks – lovely when it catches the morning sun.
We stopped on the way at Medicine Lake, almost entirely filled by underground passages – the Karst system after a place in the Czech Republic. It was very high, unusually so, but in winter it almost completely drains.
Arrived at Lake Maligne (Evil Lake), so-called because an early prospector had hell’s own job crossing the river that feeds it, for a 90 minute boat cruise.
This exceeded my expectations. The scenery was absolutely magnificent.
Our destination was Spirit Island, not an island at all, but a place of special significance to the local indigenous people.
I am in no way religious, but the calm and peace of this place made me realise why this was so important to the people that have lived here for tens of thousands of years. Our onboard guide, Sarah, was informative and entertaining.
All too soon, this magical journey was over.
Stopped back at the docks for some food and to take one last shot of a mountain which, if you stretch your imagination a bit, looks like a man looking up to the sky.
Back on the coach for our next stop, the Maligne Canyon, worn by hundreds of thousands of years of this river wearing the limestone down and creating this fascinating and deep canyon. Fantastic again.
A thoroughly rewarding walk in glorious sunshine. Wow!
An anticlimactic, and very bouncy, ride back to the lodge after that. A tremendous treat and well conducted.
Two beers were definitely called for then. And our laundry was delivered to our lodge in a) style (all pressed and on hangers) and b) in plenty of time for us to ruin it by having to pack it!
Somewhat daringly, we had booked a restaurant in Jasper yesterday for tonight’s meal. That means us catching the 1715 shuttle into town and – getting a cab back to the lodge! This had better work, as it’s a long walk back…..
It worked fine, apart from an attempt by the cab driver to rip us off. I was having none of that, but the meal was great. Good service, too, and by Canadian standards, good value. I made the mistake of having a grappa at the end…
Back to our lodge for the last time, as we leave tomorrow for a trip down to Lake Louise via the Athabasca Glacier. Should be fun.
Last minute stuff, like packing, re-packing, swearing, re-packing, etc. We have to be present and correct with our luggage at 8 a.m. tomorrow (horrors), so time for an early night.
See you tomorrow.