On my first visit to Yellowstone National Park, I entered the park via the Beartooth Highway, on the northeast side.  When I started in the morning, it had been relatively sunny and warm, but by the time I reached the road’s summit, winter conditions prevailed.  This was in the 2nd week of July.

The snow had started to accumulate to at least a couple inches, and the clouds made visibility very poor.  This mountain road turns and climbs to an elevation well above treeline.  What I remember most was the lack of a guardrail, and the eerie bamboo poles stuck into the ground at the road’s edge – a guide for the plows to find the road when their time came.

I had been in 4wd, and I’m sure my top speed was no more than 25mph.  At one point I came across a fairly long section of straightaway and decided to test the braking ability ever so lightly.  As I did, I could feel there was no traction underneath and I started to slide a little towards the downhill side.  That was the last time I made any attempts at braking, and slowed my pace even further.  Although not a sheer cliff, the mountainside sloped downward at least 1000 feet, and if I rolled off, it would have been at least a day before anyone would have found me.  I found out later that the road was closed minutes after I started my ascent, which explained why I was the only one out there that day.

Upon descending back to the forested regions, I came across this small lake and pulled over.  By now, I was just glad to have something flat on the side of the road, and having that crazy drive over the mountain pass behind me.  I remember feeling so much more relaxed when I got out.  This scene, with the calm lake, and the storm clouds moving out, echoed my state of mind at the time.