Overnight we had travelled over the last remains of the Prairies and awoke as the train was on the edge of the Athabasca River. It flows north from its headwaters of the Athabasca Glacier towards the Arctic Ocean. The murky white water of the river indicated that it was of glacial origin. The sun was rising over the lower slopes of the Rocky Mountains whilst we ate breakfast.
Jasper, where we arrived at 08:30, is in the 10880 sq.km. National Park with peaks at 3747m.
Leaving Jasper we climbed to the Yellowhead Pass summit and the Continental Divide. Here the rivers flow either to the Pacific or Atlantic or Arctic Oceans. We also entered Pacific Time (-8 GMT). Crossing the Pass involved skirting Yellowhead Lake at the foot of Mount Fitzwilliam.
Moose Lake, 10 miles in length, has a greenish hue, another sign of waters with a glacial origin. The finely ground minerals carried by the river is known as ‘rock flour’.
The Fraser River had another 850 miles to go to reach the Pacific. It is named after Simon Fraser who in 1808 was the first to journey from source to mouth.
We had views of Mount Robson, though a clear shot was difficult because of the trees. This is the tallest in the Rockies at 3954m. Apparently the summit was reached for the first time in 1913 when a group of scientists made calculations that the mountain would erode to the same height above sea level as Edmonton in 54 million years!!
Pyramid Falls have a 90m drop from a lake on Mount Cheadle. The train slowed to enable us to take photographs.
Kamloops is one of British Columbia’s biggest cities and important cattle centre. It was a fur centre for the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1821. The Shuswap Tribe, who settled here, named their settlement ‘Cume-loups’, meaning ‘meeting of waters’. These are the North and South Thompson Rivers.
From here we tackle the Hell’s Gate, the narrowest point of the gorge made by the Fraser River. There is only room for a single track on each bank of the river. We used the east bank heading for Vancouver. At this stage it was dark.