Friday, August 14, 2015

Skagway--train ride to White Pass Summit

Thursday we too a train excursion on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad and it was a blast!  It was an absolutely gorgeous day, with bright sunshine and cool brisk temps.  We've been on several excursion train rides, and we really loved the one from Durango to Silverton in Colorado.  But this one was so different, with all the glaciers here in Alaska.  Fortunately we had enough in our group to  give us our own car, so it was nice to have just our group, with enough room for people to move around from side to side and seat to seat.  Just another glorious day in this paradise called Alaska!!

In town, just after we parked the car near the train depot, looking up at their every day view!
This town, like so many others on the water, depends so heavily on the cruise ships that run until late September.  Several come in each morning, spend the day here and then pull out in the evening.  Here's one docked, disgorging all their passengers.
Caught this shot of a small plane taking off
And here comes our train!

Heading out!

This is a converted caboose, that hikers can rent to use as sleeping quarters--sometimes they drop hikers off the train on the way up and pick some back up at the end of the day, but usually it's a different train than ours.  On the same tracks the White Pass and Yukon Railroad operates passenger service between Skagway and Whitehorse, so that's the train that drops off and picks up.  Our trip was just the Summit Express, to go up to the summit and then return to Skagway.  The commentator announced that there is no plumbing in the caboose, so if you need to go to the bathroom, you can use one of the many "facilitrees" that are around the caboose--HO! HO!HO!

Looking back down the river, standing out on the platform

This is the small trestle bridge we crossed, lower on the mountain
Love to get these shots of the rest of the train on curves

How quickly we kept climbing up above the trestle in the previous pics
Looking across the river valley to the road we came in on; you can see a small tour bus in the left hand side of this pic

Border customs station

This helicopter tour was just hovering over the valley

And another glacier!

This is fireweed, after the blossoms have gone, it produces this cottony like fuzz that the wind blows away, and propagates more plants wherever it lands
We were having a blast!
The scenery on this trip was just spectacular!

This is an old timber trestle bridge across the valley, no longer in use.  Moonlin said, though, that when she visited here 19 years ago, this is the one they used!  Looks a bit rickety to me!  Now they've built a steel bridge a little farther up the rails and it's much shorter and much sturdier.

Some old timbers that apparently they just left, from the old construction
The water is just beautiful!

At the US/Canadian border
Here are the flags of the US, Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon and Canada

Dwarf fireweed

This huge boulder looks like it could fall any minute!

This is the Trail of '98, along the route used in 1898 by gold rush prospectors.  It's 33 miles long, normally takes 3 days to hike, but someone set a record by running it in a little over 8 hours!  Very steep!

At the top of the pass, they had a side track where the engine disconnected and ran around the train to connect to the end that was trailing on the way up.  Here, we're on the return trip down the mountain, again passing the old timber trestle

This is a hiker, waiting to be picked up
Gorgeous waterfall

Back in town, we loved the sign for this store!

Neat old sign in the window of a lovely little yarn shop we where Trisha found some beautiful yarn.
The famous Red Onion Saloon, formerly a brothel during Gold Rush days

The "discrete" red lights in the windows!
The blue bottle garden outside the Skagway Fish Company, where we had a lovely dinner last evening
I'm really no fan of these bottle tree displays, but Trisha loves them!
A Holland America cruise ship, ready to take off in the evening.
Paul, Jean and Moonlin, coming across the lot to the restaurant
And here comes Jack!
Paul and Moonlin at dinner
Jack and Jean.  When these four get together, it's just nonstop laughs all evening.  Our stomachs hurt from laughing so hard by the time the evening was over.  Jack and Jean now live in Tavares, FL, but are from the Boston area, and they talk with the classic Bostonian accent.  Paul is always teasing them about the way they talk, and, well, you just had to be there to appreciate how funny it all is.  But they all just love life and it's been great to have so much fun with them.
The small boat harbor--Jack had come out of the restaurant before the rest of us and saw a sea otter up on the dock, but it was gone by the time we got there--assuming Jack wasn't putting us on!!

Beautiful setting sun on the glacier and mountains!

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