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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Art Out of Tragedy

~Wednesday, September 28, 2022~

Day 836

Day 100 of Alaska Trip 👏👏

It was supposed to be a big Alpine hike day, but ironing out a few wrinkles in our California itinerary took longer than expected. Last year, our lodging in Napa was about 2 weeks long, staying at our familiar Skyline Park (where we used to host our annual chili cookoff/family reunions). Over the years, the park has gained popularity and in turn, come up with new rules in how they run things. One of those changes affects us…..gone are the days of open endedness in your stay. Now, they allow campers a maximum stay of 14 days. If you’d like to extend your stay, you have to leave for 7 days to return for an additional 14-day period. Hmm….that wasn’t quite what we had planned since we wanted 21 days. We were also shocked to find that there were only 2 campsites left in the weeks we were looking at staying. Wow….a far cry from last year’s multiple site availability. Wow, that was a close one, barely getting in at all. Once we found out the Napa Valley Expo RV Park had the days available we needed to bridge our “Napa” gap, we booked Skyline. That gives us 3 weeks to reacquaint ourselves with our old stomping ground, see old friends, and valuable time with our son, Shane, who still resides in Napa. We really miss him and everyone so much! The remaining time we’ll be in California will be spent at my mom’s helping her gear up for a move to Oregon to be closer to family. That will be a HUGE deal!!!

By early afternoon with the incredible weather, we were itching to get on some trails in the Whistler area. We didn’t have time for a big hike but found a shorter trail that seemed interesting and unique and one Sadie could do as well….the Train Wreck Trail.

The initial part of our hike which follows the Sea to Sky Road. took us into a beautiful, mossy, fern-like atmosphere and a trail that was pretty well defined. Situated right next to the Cheakamus River is evidence of a train wreck that occurred there over 70 years ago. In all, there are 7 box cars, some almost unrecognizable, that have become folley for graffiti artists and hikers like us.

The art is actually quite beautiful depending on your point of view;nothing like a little “pop” in the forest. The wreck occurred on August 11, 1956, when a train, starting in Lillooet (80 miles north of Whistler), was loaded with lumber bound for Vancouver. By the time the train got to Whistler, it was behind schedule, so the crew tried to make up the time by going twice the recommended speed limit, thus resulting in a derailment on a narrow stretch of track that had been cut through rock. Twelve boxcars derailed, some wedged onto the narrow passage which in turn, blocked the track for days. In an effort to reopen the tracks, seven of the mangled cars were hauled into the forest graveyard where they’d remain as a gallery in the forest and the other five, salvageable.

While touring the “gallery”, we met a family of 4 from Australia (a mom, her daughter, son and daughter-in-law) who struck up a conversation with us about our bear spray. I guess they’ve had quite the time trying to find any and wondered where we got ours (though we got it way before the Alaska trip). After our suggestion of a sporting goods store or a Wal-Mart, we then delved into travel conversation. Wow, they have quite the itinerary, packing at least 20 key stops in the western U.S., all in a 6 week period before heading back to jobs and farm responsibilities.

After the Train Wreck forest, most people return the way they came. But there is another route for about 2 miles, that reconnects back into a business section of Whistler. We decided to take that once we heard there was a brewery at the end of it (always a good motivator). The problem with this trail is that it meanders in and out of the forest, following a set of train tracks (which is private property) with seemingly no rhyme or reason. We questioned our direction a few times but thanks to our All Trails map app, we made it through fine. And there it was….Coast Mountain Brewery,

the same brewery we visited the other day, inviting us to sip and chill. Not being a big IPA girl, I was surprised that I actually liked the one Jeff was having. Maybe I’m no longer just a pilsner kind of girl. We decided to make our out/back trail that got us there, a loop trail instead, per the suggestion of a fellow hiker. Of course we were happy to hear that since we didn’t much like the latter part of the confusing hike anyway. It ended up being a little less scenic than our hike in, but a perfect route to the car. No guess work, no confusing trails.

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