Whistler to Vancouver

Wednesday, 8 August:

DSC_1585

After breakfast, we boarded our coach for the last time, leaving Whistler, travelling on the Sea-to-Sky Highway to Vancouver.  As we made our way back, we noticed we were driving parallel to the train tracks for some of the time.  So we were seeing some of the same scenery that we saw from the train, but from a higher perspective.

DSC_1573DSC_1572DSC_1575DSC_1576Such lovely views in every direction – mountains, glaciers, rivers and forests and we made a couple of photo stops along the way, to Tantalus Lookout and Shannon Falls Park.

 

DSC_1588

Whistler

 

Tuesday, 7 August:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Arrived at Whistler and staying at The Hilton. Beautiful room, very spacious. It even has a small kitchen. I didn’t expect this level of accommodation.   It is excellent.  Whistler is very pretty little village in the Scandinavian style and we are situated right in the middle of it.

 

Inukshuk (pron. in-ook-shook) is an Inuit word meaning “in the image of man”.  Found in Canada’s far northern regions, these rock sculptures were built by the Inuit and served a variety of purposes.  For travellers in a barren landscape, the Inukshuk served as a guide post – a silent message showing the correct path to follow.  Some would have a longer arm indicating the direction to travel.  Others had a hole in the centre – a traveller looking through the hole would see another Inukshuk in the far distance.  An Inukshuk on a river bank would mark a safe fording spot.  Inukshuks were also used to mark a campsite  of a special spiritual place.  By building a series of Inukshuk in a “V” formation, the Inuit used them to aid with the caribou hunt.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

First stop was a trip to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.  A fascinating look into a world where ancient ways meet modern life.   The native guide gave us a very interesting insight into the history of the First Nation. We learnt so much and it was a real hands-on tour.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Later, we enjoyed a ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola.  Joining Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, this word record-breaking engineering marvel is the highest and longest lift of its kind in the world.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While we were up there, we did one of the hikes around the peak, which was a wonderful experience and something special that I’ll never forget. We’ve had such perfect weather and it was quite hot up there. I couldn’t believe we were actually there surrounded by such beautiful mountains while we hiked (yes, hiked – I couldn’t believe we were doing that either!) around the trail. I just had to keep on stopping to take it all in.

Is everybody Australian here? And do any Canadians work here? Australian accents everywhere in Whistler! There are employment opportunities in many of the shops, but the problem is lack of accommodation. In fact, we noticed that some shops were advertising jobs + accommodation in an attempt to fill the vacancies.

The rest of the day was free to enjoy on our own and that evening we met for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.  Lovely meal which we enjoyed with such a nice group of people. Tomorrow we will be saying goodbye to Jeanette, our Canadian tour guide, Sheree who was the Wyndham representative and John our wonderful coach driver.

 

 

 

Travelling in British Columbia

Monday, 6 August:

DSC_1364DSC_1363DSC_1362

Had a very good sleep last night, our room was so spacious and comfortable. After an early breakfast, we said goodbye to Sun Peaks and saw some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada as we travelled along the remote Duffy Lake Road. Our first stop was at Historic Hat Creek Ranch which is located on one of the few sections of the original Cariboo Wagon Road.  This ranch played an important part in providing a stopping-off point for miners travelling north in the 1800’s.

Just a quick coffee and bathroom stop here.  Long enough to stroll around to the blacksmith and have a chat.  Unfortunately we weren’t able to see the historical buildings.  I think you can do a tour of them on a horse-drawn wagon which I noticed when we arrived.  Would be an interesting stop if you had a few hours to spare.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Next stop was in Lillooet to Fort Berens Winery for a delicious, leisurely lunch with a wine tasting.  The staff were very friendly and made us feel most welcome.

DSC_1402

Nice view of the vineyards as we ate lunch.

We are now in dry and rugged country.

DSC_1358

I counted over 80 cars on this freight train

DSC_1381

These structures protect trains from avalanches

DSC_1398

Our driver stopped suddenly and here is what I saw right outside my window!

DSC_1416

Continued west as we crossed the Coast Mountains, quick photo stop at Duffy Lake and then on to Whistler.

Sun Peaks

Sunday, 5 August:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today we headed west over Yellowhead Pass and arrived at Mount Robson, the Rockies tallest peak at 12,989 feet (3,959 metres).

DSC_1281

Stopped to take in the scenery at Pyramid Lake, then enjoyed lunch on the verandah of a  local restaurant.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

DSC_1327

Lunch with a view

DSC_1323

No wet paws for these two!

Today has been quite leisurely as our next destination is not far away and back in the coach once more, we followed the Thompson River as we descended through the Columbia Mountains and arrived at our accommodation for the night, Sun Peaks Grand Hotel.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sun Peaks is Canada’s second largest ski resort and we found the village absolutely charming.  We were surprised at the number of people staying there in summer, but then we discovered that there are many activities in the absence of snow, such as golfing, biking and hiking.   Shops, bars and restaurants are all within easy walking distance and we enjoyed our time here very much.

Jasper – Day Two

Saturday, 4 August: As tempting as it was to laze around the resort, by 9.30 we were in the coach to start the day with a cruise on Maligne Lake to Spirit Island. Set amongst towering peaks, Maligne Lake is the largest glacial fed lake in the Canadian Rockies and interestingly, the water is a different colour at Spirit Island than it is where the boat departs from. As you get closer, the water changes from blue to emerald, due to the presence of rock flour from the glaciers.

Maligne Lake (1)

Maligne Lake (2)

Maligne Lake

Spirit Island is one of the most photographed places in Canada and we could see why. Beautiful, peaceful and a very special place.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On our return we hopped back on the coach and headed to Athabasca Falls.  This waterfall is not known so much for its height (at 23 metres) as for the force of the water falling into the gorge.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Next stop was Maligne Canyon.  This canyon measures over 50 metres deep and we did an interpretative walk, learning about the underground river system while following the canyon’s trail past beautiful waterfalls and spectacular rock formations.  Several bridges crossed where you could see the water far below.  It was very interesting to read how the churning water is constantly eroding the canyon.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The rest of the day we had to ourselves, which gave us another opportunity to explore the resort and later in the day I walked around the lake which took 1-1/2 hours at a leisurely pace, stopping to read the many boards set up at intervals, with interesting information about the plant and animal life around the lake.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Around JPL lake (7)Around JPL lake (6)Around JPL lake (1)