Serene Prairies

This was a particularly memorable trip out west to the Rockies. It was my first solo trip and was really a spur-of-the-moment choice. I had just completed my undergraduate degree and scheduled some time off before I started working. In the previous month, I already went on another trip with some friends to California, but I still had some time left. So I thought, why not, time for one more trip.

I researched and booked everything about two weeks beforehand. I also decided that I would go hiking in the national parks in the area, something that I didn't have much experience with. With this plan, I bought a trail guide for the parks, picked some trails that I wanted to try and went gear shopping (and how I got acquainted with MEC). In addition, since I guess I really did have a lot time on my hands, I also chose to take the scenic route there, by train. And not just any train ticket, I bought myself first-class tickets for the train with the justification that it was a multi-day train ride from Toronto to Jasper. Lots of impulsive decisions made (all good ones in hindsight).

The photos starting below chronicle some of the highlights from my trip. It's hard to really capture just how memorable this trip was though. The feeling of stepping off the train in Jasper. The views and sights I reached after hours of hiking. The freedom (and anxiety) of traveling alone (caveat: the most dangerous things were probably myself and maybe the bears).

By the time this trip was over, I was ready to come back to the trio of national parks again. Beyond that, I had found great new interests - in hiking, the mountains, photography - that would be influences on all of my future trips.

The trip started slowly, as I prepared to be on a train for approximately 2.5 days. This would be first time on such a long-distance train trip, so that in itself was an adventure. A slow-paced adventure it was though, with plenty of time to just watch Canada pass by.

Days 1 & 2 — On the train

  • Beginning of the Journey

    Via Train, Ontario Early in the morning, on board the Vancouver-bound Via train on its way out of Toronto and north through Ontario. Some quick exploration found me these "viewing cars", with tops that allow 360 degree viewing. I would end up spending a lot of time in these spots.

  • Ontario Farms

    Via Train, Ontario Many peaceful scenes like this along the way quickly remove me from the hustle and bustle of the city.

  • One of Countless Lakes, Canadian Shield

    Via Train, Ontario Riding the train really made me appreciate just how big Ontario is. It will take over a day to get out of Ontario and there were so many lakes and forests that we passed by.

  • Sioux Lookout

    Sioux Lookout, Ontario One of the longer stops along the route, at Sioux Lookout. Last stop before exiting Ontario.

  • Winnipeg Train Station

    Winnipeg, Manitoba First stop once out of Ontario was in Winnipeg. Took a little stroll since there was a lot of time at the station.

  • Serene Prairies

    Via Train, Canadian Prairies Passing through the idyllic praries with all of summer's lushness, wispy clouds and a blue sky. As a bonus, the moon was visible too.

After two days on the train and the pampering of first class, I settled in for one last night on the train. It was time to prepare myself for the next part of my trip. I collected my stuff and tried to sleep despite the anticipation for what tomorrow would bring.

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