WHISTLING ALONG THE RAILS

The Rocky Mountaineer train trip to Whistler takes passengers through some of British Columbia's most dramatic scenery: the shimmer of waters of Howe Sound, the smudge of mountains on the horizon, the rush of waterfalls, and Cheakamus river, roaring and swirling though a deep, winding gorge. There are stories about colourful characters, who once lived in the towns and valleys along the way, and buildings with secrets behind their windows. Wild flowers spill down the hillsides as the sun filters through forests of fir, maple and alder.

Whistler's ski slopes are bare, but lifts carry visitors to the crest of the runs where they take in the vista of range upon range of snow-capped mountains: a majestic, lonely wilderness of crags, deep ravines and thick evergreen forests.

But down in Whistler village square, the streets are bright with flower baskets, and summer holiday crowds. Teens wheel through bike trails, and kids lick ice-cream cones. The sidewalk restaurants are alive with laughter of friends as they sip beer or wine with their lunch.

And then, all too soon, it's time to get back to the train for the homeward bound journey. The train whistles over trestle bridges and curls past the sheer cliff face of the massive"Squamish Chief" (a popular challenge for rock climbers). High tea is served - fresh crumbly warm scones accompanied by strawberry jam and whipped cream, french pastries and a choice of fragrant teas.

Along West Vancouver's pedestrian walkway along the waterfront, joggers and strollers stop to smile and wave. The evening shadows grow long, and in the far distance, Mount Baker's snowy peaks are blushed by the setting sun.


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