The next stage of our journey was the train to Jasper from Prince Rupert. It doesn’t operate every day and the next one was at 7.30am the following morning. This was too soon for me! We stayed 3 nights in Prince Rupert and caught the next one instead.
We were slow to get up, and it was after 9am when I went downstairs to make tea. In the kitchen, I chatted to a lady who had just arrived on the ferry from Haida Gwaii. Robyn and I had looked at venturing there but decided it wasn’t feasible. It is on our radar for next time though. The lady grew up on the island and returned to live there as an adult. She loved it. Her father had been killed in a logging accident some years before and she became quite emotional when telling me the story. There was also an older Australian giving advice to two German men planning a visit. I doubted the veracity of some of the information but refrained from comment. It is not my place to correct an Australian about Australia!
We ambled around town after breakfast. The weather was typical of Prince Rupert which is reputed to have the highest rainfall of any place in Canada. At the Visitor Centre in Cow Bay we got information about the trails. Afterwards, food dominated our thoughts, so we had lunch at Dolly’s, sampling the local fish for which it is known. Whilst waiting for our meals, we studied the trail maps and decided on one to do. Having walked to its start, I remembered the Visitor Centre lady told me it was closed for repair. Robyn was unimpressed with me! There were few alternatives, so we followed the road back along the water and climbed a set of steep steps to the Summit. We admired the limited view and returned to the hostel. It was an unsatisfactory day due to our lack of planning.
In the kitchen the next morning I met a German/Belgian couple who lived in Sheffield and worked at the University there. It was a most entertaining conversation on various topics not least of which was Brexit. They seemed philosophical about what happens as they had many options. A couple from Geelong, Australia, appeared keen to chat. Or rather, he did. She seemed desperate to escape! I was away so long Robyn came in search of her tea. I love the marvel of hostel kitchens. You never know who you will meet!
We had heard about the Saturday market so went to check it out. It was reminiscent of the 70’s with a fair abundance of macrame and knitting. There weren’t many stalls. Or visitors. A stall holder recognised us from the craft shop we had browsed in the previous day and engaged in conversation. She told us she was a relief lighthouse keeper in her spare time but didn’t like the job as it was too isolated and she was very sociable. Her ambition was to live in a house truck so, in her head, she has been planning how she could fit in her furniture. She also loved parties and travelling. In her late sixties (possibly), she was one of life’s “characters”.
Afterwards, we strolled to the Aquatic/Civic Centre to buy day bus passes. It was an unlikely venue for the purchase but you can’t buy them on the buses. The friendly lady behind the counter had plenty of time to talk. We heard about her family whilst keeping one eye on the clock. The bus to Port Edward only went once every two hours. We didn’t want to miss it so I politely made our excuses. The residents of Prince Rupert obviously enjoy chatting to strangers!
Our destination was The North Pacific Cannery on the Skeena river. It is the only one of the fifty built that has been restored. The rest had been destroyed or were in ruins. We had an entertaining tour, given by an informative older lady, who also spoke in French, and a young guide in training, who conducted parts of the tour in English. A younger lad accompanied him and supplied prompts when he forgot his facts. The pair provided entertainment reminiscent of Laurel and Hardy (whom my daughter had never heard of!). It lasted two hours, but we defected towards the end, so we could eat our sandwiches and be ready for the bus when it arrived.
Next up was a hike on the Tall Trees trail. We were both desperate to get out and walk by this stage. However, we had limited time before the next bus back to town and knew it would be marginal. Nothing like being controlled by a bus timetable! Robyn marched onwards and upwards and I trailed behind trying to keep pace. The view from the top was worth it. The mozzies weren’t! We were back at the bus stop with 5 minutes to spare.
That evening we wanted to have dinner at Dolly’s again as we had been so impressed with the meal the day before. However, a tour group was occupying almost the entire restaurant, and the staff dithered and couldn’t decide if they were able to fit us in. The food at our alternative choice bore no comparison but the Vietnamese staff were friendly and efficient. It was a disappointing end to our action packed day.