Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Today I want to add some text and photo of the opening of the new Canada Line - our rapid transit link to the Airport - it was a free preview for 8 hours on Monday and some 80,000 people took in the ride - it was so busy that they cut off people heading for the Airport at around 7PM - I waited over an hour at the Yaletown/Roundhouse station just to get into the Station and another 30 minutes to get on a train. Here's the lineup outside Yaletown station - this station is going to be great for those wanting a night of eating and drinking in the many establishments along Mainland and Hamilton Sts. There was a band playing and various merchants were offering discount coupons etc + free coffee for those waiting in line. There were some port a potties for those who can't drink coffee and hold it - one comment here was that there doesn't appear to be an escalator down to the first level but there is an elevator.

All of these images were taken with my Blackberry so the quality isn't the greatest but you show get the idea. Fully automated ticketing machines - for you fare cheaters - rejoice still no turnstiles.
Directional signs inside the Station on the loading platform.

Downtown or inbound train arrives at the Station - trains will run every 3 minutes in prime time and every second train goes to the Airport - a present there is no extra charge to go to the Airport but it is expected a $2.00 or so levy will be introduced early in 2010 - the Airport authority which is a private not for profit operation borrowed some $300 M to add this part of the line - therefore they will need to recoup there borrowing costs.

Inside a Canada Line Card - overhead provides constant updates of arrival times and next station. If the train doesn't look that crowded that is because they rationed the number of people who could get on at any one station - that way in theory someone out Oakridge would still be able to get on and not have a fill train pass them up.
It is also no small credit to the Translink people that they appeared to be very few glitches in the system - for those from out of town - our Rapid transit system is fully automated - no drivers and since it's inception they have been no mishap while the trains have been running.

From downtown to the Marine Drive station the route is underground - it then climbs up and over the North Arm of the Fraser river over a new crossing with a separate bike/pedestrian lane attached below on the west side of the Bridge. The route then comes into Bridgeport Station - this station is literally attached to the River Rock Casino Resort and has parking for about 1200 cars during the day time.
It is also where the trains separate - the Airport straight ahead and Richmond town center to the South.
Here's a look at the Airport Station from outside the Canada or domestic terminal - it is hard to miss and can be accessed from inside any of the terminal by a covered walkway.

This is taken of the line-up inside the terminal near the international gates - it was busy but moved fairly quickly each time a train arrived.

Some of the native art work on display at the terminal - the sun was shining brightly making it hard to get a good picture.

This picture if you zoom in will show an overhead sign stating Canada Line and an arrow pointing which way to go.

More of the lineup as I make my way slowly to the trains.

Once onboard it was just a little over 25 minutes to the Vancouver Center station - considering all the crowds I thought the day went fairly well.

I do intend to take it out another day when it is not so busy and explore the different stations and the line into Richmond Town Center.

Monday, August 17, 2009

SKYLINE HIKERS WHITEMAN PASS CAMP AUG 3 - 7, 2009 - The trip out on Saturday August 8, 2009 and some final thoughts

Saturday mornings in camp are always a sad time as it is time to pack up the duffel and get ready to head back to civilization. We had to have our duffel out front by 7:30AM - I just stuff the sleeping bag into it's stuff bag and throw the rest of my stuff in my large duffel and take it out to the assembly area. The only thing you need to guess is what will the weather be like on the trip out and put those necessary items in your day pack.

While our duffel is assembled early the first group of hikers aren't leaving until 9:30 AM - traditionally the first group out is the slow group - one difference on the trip out is that you can pass them and head for the finish line.

The weather is once again sunny and warm - it takes until about 8:45AM for the sun to rise over the mountain and hit the campsite.

I am leading the second group out - there are 11 of us - 10 gals and me

Our duffel waiting to be loaded - see the large black bag near the lower middle - that's mine.

Horses waiting to be loaded - this outfitter uses a slightly different method of carrying the duffel - he has designed a saddle bag that the duffel will fit into and then just drops it in and ties it shut.

More of the horses.

Awaiting the call to leave camp.

One of the kitchen staff had her big pet lab in camp - he even had his own tent for sleeping in - he was a big ball of fun - he also seemed to have been trained not to cross the creek and enter the sleeping area.

View looking down the Cross Creek Valley towards trail head.

Crossing one of the bridges over Cross Creek.

After reaching the final bridge we stop there, have lunch and wait for the remaining groups and the other school bus to arrive - as soon as we see the bus arrive we start the last final 10 minutes to the buses and the almost end of our trip - it took us at a slow pace about one hour and fourty -five minutes to make the trip out - even the slow group which we passed at the first bridge were out before the buses.
1. Despite some of the concerns expressed in these various entries which weren't really the fault of anyone in particular I would give this camp a big B+. If it is offered again in 5 or 6 years times I hope to be able to return and explore more of the area.
2. Much discussion took place in camp about the location of next years camp - they are hoping for Molar Pass once last time before the Parks Canada folks make it off - limits because they are trying to re-introduce Caribou into the Park - a small herd in there last year prevented us from going there this year but an avlanche wiped out most of the herd so there is a one year window of opportunity for us - if it is Molar and I choose to go it will be my fourth camp there.
Molar is special to me in that it was the first camp I did with friends Gordon and Evelyn Poppy back around 1990 - Evelyn passed away earlier this year so memories of the first camp return when the area is mentioned.
If Molar can't be offered the Skyliners are looking at a new site down in K Country called Odlum Creek - there is one main challenge for going in there and that is crossing the Highwood River - while a temporary bridge crossing is possible the river is subject to sudden high water and flooding in the summer which could lead to a situation of how to get back to trail head.
3. I definitely thought the quality of the food was much better this year - especially the breakfasts - eggs cooked properly, sausages not burnt to a crisp and bacon that was cooked for a variety of tastes.
On the Friday morning - we had our version of an eggs bennie - scrambled egg on a bun with ham and green peppers mixed in - it was the hit of the camp and talked about the most.
4. After returning to Banff I walk with duffel etc with two others to the Y - get my room which has a shower and then join about 35 of us as we adjourn to the Elk and Oarsman pub for a final drink and for many our supper - you go there dirty, in the clothes that you hiked out in or you pay the price - around of drinks. We also meet the camp officials for the next week and go over the past week.
I finish my beer and grilled chicken breast, Caesar salad and veggies and return to the Y for a shower, upload my images to the netbook, search the net on my Blackberry, hit the sack and wake up on the Sunday and drive back to Vancouver.
I hope that you have like this look at a week of outdoor recreation with the Skyliners of the Canadian Rockies.

SKYLINE HIKERS WHITEMAN PASS CAMP AUG 3 - 7, 2009 - Enjoying happy hour and the nightly donut sing song

There are two main activities that take place under the heading of socializing in camp - the nightly sing song in the donut - seen below in the first picture and the afternoon happy hours.

Do to the weather etc the happy hours didn't get underway in earnest until Thursday - they are a great ice-breaker and we get to share lots of stories and find out more about our fellow hikers.
You are also expected to bring along some snacks to share - boy you should have seen the amount of gorp in camp - it filled about three large plastic storage buckets - done that way to try and keep the small critters out of the tents etc.

Up next - the trip out and final thoughts

SKYLINE HIKERS WHITEMAN PASS CAMP AUG 3 - 7, 2009 - The hike to Cross Lake Friday August 7, 2009

This was by far my best day of the camp - I was feeling much better, had slept good, didn't lose any teeth, we didn't have any squabbles over who was in line first and I didn't have to lead the hike - if we got more than the allowed number I was the back up leader but that didn't happen. Did I say the sun was shining and the weather warming up - that the Counts family - all four of them - were leading this trip - well I have said that now.

We are heading for Cross Lake - about a km above camp - middle of the picture in the background is the bowl that holds the lake - it is also our water supply in camp so no swimming is allowed.

It takes about 40 minutes to reach the Lake - there is a good flower show in the meadows by the Lake - I will spend the day do nothing but resting and taking pictures - three of the group decide to explore the area above the Lake - the area to the right of the Lake is call Cross Creek Shoulder but the trio actually went all the way to Red Man Saddle at the top of the valley.

Before we knew it was 2:30PM and time to head back to camp and prepare for either happy hour and the skits or both.

Heading out from camp up towards Cross Lake - about 1km and 350' higher - we start through a meadow then climb up with trees to the lake.

At at the Lake there are views in every direction - we have the remainder of the day to ourselves.

Resting at Cross Lake with views of Jamie's Ridge and Whiteman mountain in front of us.

Looking up towards Cross Lake shoulder on the right and Red Man saddle in the middle back. Three of the group ventured up there after lunch.

Another view of the Lake and Whiteman Mountain.

Cross Lake and terrain beyond.

Peaceful and tranquil are two words that come to mind with this view. We lazed by the water, enjoying the sights, light breeze and the smell of many alpine wild flowers.

This is the picture that graces the front page of my blog - it's of Cross Lake with the massif of Whiteman Mountain in the background.

That's me with the Lake in the background.
While would anyone want to leave such a beautiful spot but come 2:30PM and the return of the others from their trip up to the saddle it was time to say goodbye.

Next up - a look at our happy hours and campfire sing song in the donut.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

SKYLINE HIKERS WHITEMAN PASS CAMP AUG 3 - 7, 2009 - A collection of flowers from along the trails

The Whiteman Pass - Cross Creek valley area had a fairly good array of wild flowers in bloom during our stay - while not as profuse as either Molar Pass or the Kootenay Rockwall -the area still provided many great flower gardens as we hiked the trails - the rainy weather and then sunshine also helped the flowers reach their full blooming potential. This then is a sampling of what we saw during our week in the area.

Next up - a short hike to Cross Lake and some fabulous mountain scenery.