In Skagway Alaska, we caught a sightseeing train from the sea up into White Pass. I took this just after we reversed directions to head back down.
The whole trip I hung out between the cars where I could get pictures of the landscape. On the way up we were in the first car behind the engine. Then the train pulled into a siding and the locomotive connected to the other end and, as you can see, we were at the back.
It was pretty high up, and the weather dropped about forty-degrees. Skagway used to be a mining town, and in the Klondike days before the train, miners would traverse the pass on foot or mule. That would be a hard slog indeed, so I was glad to be on a train with its trusty breaks all the way back down.
As we were sailing out of Skagway the Star Princess remained parallel to ours for about thirty minutes. The straight is not that wide and the sight of two massive ships in the light of dusk silently passing through must have been quite the thing. Only these areas are uninhabited save for the wildlife, so we were unnoticed save for the eagles sitting on treetops.
There were four or five cruise ships in Skagway that day, I believe this is the same one I posted a picture of earlier. It’s hard to tell because in that picture I was standing next to it on the dock and it’s hard to get the full perspective up close.
The low light capabilities of the Sony A7RII allowed me to capture this at ISO4000. These kind of shots still amaze me when I think that just a few years when this type of shot was impossible. My preference is to shoot in low light, I prefer the moodiness of it.
My ship was Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas. I wonder if there was someone on the Princess ship watching our ship and taking a similar shot. If you’re out there somewhere let’s swap photos so we can see our own boat, eh?
I was in Alaska at the peak of cruise season which means you can get a look up close of these massive ships. And as big as they are they’re still about half the size the ships in the Caribbean, but I digress. This was in Skagway and I took this as I walked back to my ship which was behind this one. I believe this is a Princess ship but I didn’t make a note of it at the time.
I am still amazed at how big these ships are and how they operate. The elements can be unforgiving and the crews that sail them must be the best.
This year there was a YouTube of the wind pushing a ship into the dock and causing some damage in Ketchikan. When I was there a few weeks later I inquired about it because I saw no damage. The dock was already fixed, and there were no signs of the incident. It turns it was pilot, not he ships captain, at the helm that day and thanks to his quick thinking he avoided what would have been much greater damage. These pilots are retired ferry captains that know the waters like the backs of their hands. This pilot in particular decided it was better to take out the dock than hit one of the other ships. As it was explained to me, he is considered a hero for what he avoided rather than what was destroyed.
If you visit Alaska perhaps one the places you will see is Skagway. The biggest employer in that town is the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. It winds from the sea port up the mountains into British Columbia. If you like trains then add this to your list because not only is the scenery spectacular there’s a lot of history preserved in these trains and the rail museum in town.
We took an excursion up to the top of the pass which takes about an hour-and-a-half one-way. On the way up we were in the first car behind the engine but on the way back the engine reattached to the other end and we were at the rear. That afforded me the chance to stand out the back and capture this other train as we entered the main track from a siding.
This is a popular attraction and for good reason. When we booked the trip there were no more standard tickets so we booked the first class parlor car. Boy, that was nice, we had soft cushioned seats, an attendant and all the food and drink we wanted. However I couldn’t manage to sit still, I preferred to stand on the outside platform taking picture most of the way. When we finally got back to lower elevations I came back in the coach to find everyone asleep in their comfortable chairs. That was pretty funny, but I’m still glad I stood outside and enjoyed the scenery from the cheap seats, even if I did pay for a comfy chair inside.