Mo & Terry Smedley


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Prince Rupert to Jasper
VIA Rail "Skeena"

NORTH ... I like to go NORTH.  Some people enjoy traveling South, to warmer weather.  I enjoy traveling North, to cooler, more extreme weather.  Over the years, we've made several memorable trips to Northland destinations in Canada.  You can see photo logs of our previous trips across Canada here.

I didn't take a lot of scenery pictures on the Prince Rupert to Prince George section of the trip.  Our previous photo logs fully document the spectacular views of the Skeena River from the train.   We have only traveled on the Prince George to Jasper section once, so I have a few more pictures of that portion.

The train was very lightly populated on both sections of the journey.  The passenger count certainly didn't cover the cost of fuel and crew for the trip.

This is a fun railroading journey in the winter, because you can usually interact personally with the train crew.  The locomotive engineers are willing to chat and answer questions during stops.  Our attendant Tracy was very personable and kept us informed about railroad activity up ahead.  The stop at the very remote Penny Post Office (see photos) is always a fun one.

I spent a couple of hours working on the attendant's personal laptop trying to put together a 500-photo slide show of a recent vacation she had made.  Eventually had some success.  Never hurts to be in the good graces of the train crew!

We arrived in Jasper a little after 5PM (45 minutes early).  Tomorrow we will be going on a morning tour in search of wildlife sightings before boarding the train for Vancouver at 2:30PM.


At the VIA station in Prince Rupert, the attendant gave me one of VIA's cardboard cutout toys to keep me occupied. Betsy bought a toy moose to take with her.  Here's the moose (named Bruce) at the Prince Rupert station. Only about 15 passengers boarded at Rupert.  The dome car was empty for most of the trip.  Bob is being coy about having is picture taken.  Nice views from the dome. As we left the moderate temperatures of the coast, we quickly entered the Great White North.  The train follows the Skeena River for much of its route, and it was frozen over to varying degrees along the way.
Ice on the Skeena River. It was a very dark, gray day.  The snow-covered mountains blended in with the sky. Our train attendant (Tracey) let us open the vestibule doors for good, window-free viewing.  Here's an engineer's eye view of the signals at a siding switch.  Green over red means the mainline is clear. When you can open the vestibule doors, the viewing is fine.  I was having a good time.
As you can see, having the vestibule doors open is not an officially-approved policy. Hanging out over the Skeena River trestle. Here, the Skeena is frozen over completely. Looking back at the Skeena trestle.
Betsy likes "ped" signs.  This ped is warning that hearing protection is required in the locomotive engine compartment. A lunch stop at Smithers.  The Cantina at the station served up burritos and sandwiches very quickly, so passengers could run back to the train. At a brief "smoke stop" in Endako, we walked through the foot-deep snow. The Skyline car is the rear dome car on this train,.  You can see how deep the snow was.
Morning comes to a chilly Prince George.  This is taken from our hotel room in the Ramada Inn.  It was in the low teens in Prince George when we left. We had enough time for a brief walk about town before leaving for the train station.  We found this colorful bear in front of the Telus (phone company) building. Beautiful Indian artwork on this Prince George downtown mural. This pay phone looked a little wintry.
I tried to get a conversation going with this bronze we passed on the way to the train stataion. There were ten passengers on the train today, and no pickups or dropoffs at any of the intermediate stops between Prince George and Jasper.  Bob and Betsy had the dome car to themselves for much of the morning. This is what a "meet" looks like from the vestibule.  We had been in the siding for about 15 minutes waiting for this freight. We followed the Fraser River for quite a while.  In most spots, it was frozen over from bank to bank.
One of the highlights of this trip is the stop at Penny, to make a quick visit to the Post Office.  Penny sends and receives its mail only by this train.  It's a tradition for passengers to mail postcards from Penny, where they will be hand stamped before going out on the next train. The "Spiderman  2" locomotive looks sharp next to the bright snow. The train parked at Penny while we ran down to the Post Office to mail our letters. A little further down the track, Tracy (our attendant) pitches out a delivery for one of the residents along this very remote section.  Betsy is documenting the pitch out.
Tracy advised us to bring our own food onboard, which she would be happy to heat up for us.  So last night in Prince George, we boxed up a couple of pizzas and enjoyed them mid-day on the train. Another route highlight is Mt. Robson (12,972 ft).  Mo got this great picture out the vestibule looking up the track towards the mountain. Mt. Robson Can almost see to the top of the mountain today.
Moose Lake near Jasper is completely frozen over.