Mo & Terry Smedley


A Unique North Country Rail Tour
Prince George to Whistler

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To interchange between the CN tracks from Prince Rupert and the BCRail tracks to Squamish, we have to back out of the museum and across the Fraser River.   I'd guess it's a mile give or take to complete the interchange. I'm sure this caused great consternation for a dispatcher somewhere - this CN freight is being held up on the mainline while we complete our reverse movement past the interchange switch and pull forward onto the BCRail tracks. While CN is now operating the BCRail system, it will be a while before this is seamless.  We had a "genuine CN" crew that backed us out of the Museum and across the Interchange, after which a "BCRail" crew boarded to operate the train South. Here is the piece of track that will make these reverse movements unnecessary.  This curve and switches will allow traffic heading out of Prince Rupert to be switched directly onto the Southbound BCRail tracks.
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The Aspen trees outside of Prince George were on fire with color!     Here's another attempt at a trestle picture from the train.
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The shadow of the trestle on the hillside gives the best perspective of the size of the trestle. South of Williams Lake, we enter the classic Cariboo ranch country. Our train stops at the Exeter (100 Mile House) station at dusk. We took a bus out to The Hills Health Ranch (about eight miles from Exeter) for the night.  The sunset over the lodge was blazing.
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We had group dinners at most places, like this one at The Hills Ranch. Inside our two-story "cabin". My cold or flu or whatever was catching up with me.  Dr. Mom gave me the steamer treatment, which seemed to help. A full moon over The Hills lodge greeted us for breakfast.
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Right outside our cabin, the trail riding horses grazed.  They're a little bigger than the animals I'm more comfortable with (dogs).  I tried my best to talk to them, but a horse whisperer I'm not. Sunrise at The Hills was spectacular.   Here's our cabin - three bedroms, two stories.  If the Cariboo Prospector was still running, we'd be spending more time here!
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  Another one of the better "curve shots" as the train stretches out towards Clinton. The curved trestle near Clinton. We've headed past Kelly Lake, and we're about to begin our serious descent of the Fraser Canyon.
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It's a long ways down there - 2,678 feet from the track to the river!  In the shadows, you can see what's left of the original trackbed from some years ago. Heading down the steep grade to Moran.  The grade is almost continuously above 2% for the 20 miles starting at Kelly Lake, with a few short sections reaching 2.5% It doesn't get any better than this!  Look carefully - you'll see the headlight of a long freight grinding up the hill.  All the photographers hang out the side of the observation car to catch the passing train.  The track inspector's hi-railer has been pulled off the side of the track to let everybody get by. And here she comes up the hill.  Even though it's a  train of empties, the locomotives are making lots of noise and smoke as they work their way up the grade.
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A mild telephoto effect exaggerates the grade a little, but this is still serious mountain railroading.    Photographers getting ready for the crossing of the Fraser River. The train looks good stretched out across the bridge.  Here's a picture of the Cariboo Prospector on this bridge taken from a highway viewpoint above.
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One of the unexpected highlights of this trip was running into everybody's favorite conductor, Roy Crowston.   We first met Roy on our 2001 system tour. Always a smile from Roy for his passengers!  Compare the new "CN freight" work clothes to his BCRail passenger conductor's uniform here! A protest of sorts greeted the train in Lillooet.  Locals want their Cariboo Prospector scheduled service back.  The proposed Rocky Mountaineer tourist train along this route won't even stop in Lillooet. Since the Cariboo Prospector service was discontinued, these "Budd Lites" are used to shuttle students between Lillooet and otherwise inaccessible areas along Seton Lake.
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We pass a couple of bighorn sheep on our way out of Lillooet. The unmistakable glacial color of Seton Lake as the train winds right along the shore.  Here's a photo of the Cariboo Prospector at this spot taken from a vantage point a few hundred feet above. The slide that creates the portage between Seton and Anderson Lakes traps all the glacial till in Seton Lake.  On the Anderson Lake side of the portage, the waters are deep blue.  
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This is rugged track - blasted right into the rock walls along the lake.  It's like this for nearly all of the 30 or so miles along the two lakes.      

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