We awoke after a great night's sleep to find it was raining and had been for quite a while. Our start was a more civilised 7.15 and we were all eager to get going back on the train.
After breakfast we began to see a change in the countryside as we travelled and also in the colour and the way in which water travelled along. We came to the Thompson and Fraser River confluence where you could see how the two rivers met by the colours. One was the beautiful blue and the other in the muddy mineral affected glacial water. An amazing sight!
We passed through many small settlements along our journey and many locals seem to make it part of their routine to stand on their porches, often with a glass, greet and wave to us. At level crossings, many got out of their cars and waved, made us feel so special.
The crew were telling us that one elderly lady was always at her back fence to wave very enthusiastically over a very long period of time. Eventually a couple of crew members decided that they would like to give her a care package to thank her for her cheery welcome. Once the package was assembled, on their next journey past her home, the train slowed right down and the package was thrown from the train for her to collect.
A week later there was a call to the office of the Mountaineer asking for a manager to call. It took a while and a couple of calls from the caller to get a response from the office but when they did the caller said ...
"how did you know....?"
"How did we know what, sir..."
"How did you know it was my mother's 90th birthday on the day you threw her that package....?"
An "oh gosh" story!
We also saw the parts of the river where the Canadian team train for their canoeing and water rafting and its no surprise they are as good as they are, what an amazing natural boiling cauldron it is!
Further along we were able to see work in progress as the First Nations people are setting up their salmon drying racks is the start of their annual harvest. The First Nations people are the only ones allowed to harvest the salmon in this area and it is a process deeply steeped in tradition and as one of our guides has a First Nation background we were able to hear how important it has always been to maintain this tradition of families gathering together under the guidance of the elders and learn how to get the best salmon and to share them with the family, in what has been a tradition for 7000 years.The Parks Department patrol the area to ensure only authorised fishermen participate and if any unauthorised nets are found these are cut, the fish then distributed to the elders who in turn give them to their people.We saw many young salmon and a couple of really large fish in the beautiful clear water.
One town we passed through was called Hope. Hope was founded through gold mining although not very successfully as this is where the phrase "Live in Hope, die in despair" started. Oh dear, it's a bit sad that story. However there is another claim to fame for Hope, Rambo was filmed there and according to our tongue in cheek guide, a large contingent of Sylvester Stallone's crew were there purely to apply the oil he needed to make his body look so good!
All too soon we were at our destination in Vancouver and it was really sad to say goodbye to our lovely crew, pick up our bags, yes there is retail therapy on the train (yay for me!), and make our last trip as part of our tour to the hotel.
We have to say that this trip was absolutely one of the greatest highlights of our trip and the manner in which it was conducted was a perfect compliment to the magnificent country we travelled through. We wish we could do it again as we know it would seem all new and different. It's too much to take in all in one visit.