Saturday, January 19, 2013

Train watching at Lytoon and Chilko River rafting

Chilko River rafting.
Chilko River rafting is considered a one of the most dangerous rafting in the world. Chilko River rafting Company has mastered this extremely dangerous rafting almost. Almost – because still many people died in the rafting accidents because river is extremely dangerous.
We arrive in the evening at the railroad town of Lytton BC where Trans-Canadian Highway meets with the Highway coming from the North and also where Fraser River meets with Thompson River. We pay and book rafting trip for the following day and then take a room in the motel.
Thompson River
Lytoon town attracts train lovers. People who love to watch the trains can be seen at various scenic locations along the Thompson River and at Siska Bridges near Lytton, the point where both the Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways cross the Fraser River.
Train at Fraser River canyon

Several kilometer long trains pass through this busy section. I have seen trains 6 kilometer long trains pulled by as many as seven diesel locomotives. At this place railroad from the rest of Canada joins the railroad serving Western and Pacific areas of Canada and all traffic then goes to or from the Vancouver port. Line by the Fraser river keeps going towards Prince George and there one line goes to the port of Prince Rupert near Alaska and other line still keeps going by the Fraser river to the arctic areas after Mackenzie. Trains bring the natural resources like wood, pulp, sulfur, coal, zinc, sodium sulfate and many other things to the ports of Canada.
Train at Fraser River Canyon
Many people may not know that all diesel locomotives are actually electrically driven engines. Diesel Engine in the locomotive runs a huge dynamo and then on each wheel axle of the locomotive is a 600Volt DC electric motor.
The reason a diesel engine (worldwide) is driven by DC motor is because of the ease to control the speed with varying load. That’s why as many diesel engines may be coupled together because they all run on DC electricity so these are electrically coupled and act like one big engine.
WDS-4 or Desi Donkey Engine of India
Well there are some small diesel engines are purely diesel (without electrical drive motors) but those engines are used for shunting and short haul operations. In India, those small engines can still be seen in the shunting yards and called Gadha-Engine (Donkey Engine) [WDS-4 Shunting locomotive]. This engine was designed and made by The Chittaranjan Locomotive Works. The WDS 4 has a two speed gear box (Full speed = 16 kmph or 65 kmph) for shunting and trip duties.
A very long train
Now there is a new breed of locomotives those run on 24000Volts AC electricity, as well on diesel fuel. When overhead powerlines begin diesel engine is automatically switched off and electricity traction begins.
Whole Canadian train traffic from East Coast to West Coast passes through Lytoon.
Train crossing Thompson River and entering in Fraser River canyon.
Take either road along Fraser River or Thompson River and trains can be seen running along the river in both canyons in the utter wilderness.
Next day we walk to the rafting company’s office and a van takes us to the Chilko River to about halfway between Spences Bridge and Lytton BC.
This rafting features 15 solid Class 3 & 4 whitewater rapids. Rapids are dangerous and have a name for each, starting with the Frog rapid, a turbulent section that squeezes around a house-sized rock that looks like a frog.
Downstream, the river crashes through several big rapids and according to the danger they are given names including the Devils Kitchen, Witch’s Cauldron, Cutting Board, and Jaws.
http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Wetsuit
We arrive at the point where rafting begins, we are given wetsuits and life vests to be worn.
A wetsuit is a garment, usually made of foamed neoprene, which is worn by surfers, divers, windsurfers, canoeists, and others engaged in water sports, providing thermal insulation, abrasion resistance and buoyancy. The insulation properties depend on bubbles of gas enclosed within the material, which reduce its ability to conduct heat.
The bubbles also give the wetsuit a low density, providing buoyancy in water. The layer of warm water normally trapped between the suit and the skin provides some thermal insulation.
It is mortal to swim in the cold water without wetsuit. After we wear wetsuits and life vests we are given a half hour training session about the rafting in the dangerous waters.
It is a huge raft designed for 20 people and we are 15 people. Smaller rafts are dangerous in this river because water can just toss away these.
First instructor teaches us about the balancing the sides of the raft. When he shouts to right, all people sitting at left jump to right and when he shouts left all who are sitting at right move to the right. Or he shouts to the front or to the back. We are taught if someone falls out of raft then what to do and what not to do.
When instructor feels that everybody now can coordinate in this collective effort to keep the raft safe, we all drag this large raft in the water and all sit over it. Half sit on one side and half sit on the other side to balance the weight and here we go in the violently gushing waters.
On the very first rapids one person in our raft was tossed out and a rope was thrown to him and he was pulled on the boat. In the second rapid I was tossed out and only then I realized the importance of wearing a wetsuit because water was ice cold but it was only stinging me on my body where I had no wetsuit.
Actually I fell on the edge of a whirlpool and water was sucking me into the eye but my life vest was not letting me go under and anyway I was pulled out by a rope.
We were made to run to the other side of the raft several times to avoid it turning over.
At two times it almost turned over because it dangled at 90 degree angle for a second and several people fell in the water and we all pulled them. At one time a woman was thrown in the water and she disappeared in the violent foaming water but trained instructor spotted her at a place and she was pulled out.
This went on for five hours until we hit Thomson River that is calm and water felt warm. Our instructor asked us if we like to dive in the water that was the appropriate place.
Four people who knew swimming jumped in the water including myself. Now water was warm but chocolate colored. We swam till the Fraser River that is 150 feet deep at that place but anyway 6-7 feet deep water is enough to drown a man. Swimming was very easy due to life vests and current of the water. Our raft stayed close to us.
Soon Lytoon village appeared under the railroad bridges and our expedition was over.
Trains at Thompson River
That was a great fun although expansive. May be some time I want to do it again and again. I wrote this article elsewhere and rafting company was not happy about my saying this a dangerous rafting. They also said that my beginning and (especially) ending of the rafting points were not correct. As far as I remember that I swam in the Thomson river and then up-to the Fraser river where both rivers meet but I may be wrong. The purpose of my post is to let the readers know the thrills of watching several miles long trains on the zigzag mountainous railroads and doing rafting in utterly dangerously gushing waters. Level of danger also depends upon weather. When we did rafting it was the end of June and snows on the mountains are melting fast at that time so rivers are full and dangerous.
Actually my saying this rafting a dangerous one goes in favor of the rafting company because more people are attracted to the dangerous things.
I request them if they find this article here, leave some lines here for the readers.
Hypericum Perforatum
Wild Hypericum grows all over this area. This is a much valuable herbal and homeopathy remedy. I have discovered it growing in all over Himalayas. Once I was walking from Chamba (Garhwal) to Nagani on Terhri-Rishikesh road and this plant was found growing all over. Later on it was acknowledged that it is indeed Hypericum. It is not imported anymore but harvested locally.
St. John’s-wort
The great remedy for injuries to nerves, especially of fingers, toes and nails. Crushed fingers, especially tips. Excessive painfulness is a guiding symptom to its use. Prevents lockjaw. Punctured wounds. Relieves pain after operations. Quite supersedes the use of Morphia after operations (Helmuth). Spasms after every injury. Has an important action on the rectum; hæmorrhoids. Coccydynia. Spasmodic asthmatic attacks with changes of weather or before storms, better by copious expectoration. Injured nerves from bites of animals. Tetanus. Neuritis, tingling, burning and numbness. Constant drowsiness.
Extremities.–Darting pain in shoulders. Pressure along ulnar side of arm. Cramp in calves. Pain in toes and fingers, especially in tips. Crawling in hand and feet. Lancinating pain in upper and lower limbs. Neuritis, with tingling, burning pain, numbness and flossy skin. Joints feel bruised. Hysterical joints. Tetanus. Traumatic neuralgia and neuritis.

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