Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park was wet and overcast. The clouds were low when I rode through; they flowed over and wrapped themselves around the mountainsides. When they momentarily cleared, they revealed the Teton peaks, a row of massive black-and-gray teeth. There was still snow up on the high slopes.
The sun started to set, and everything turned to shades of black-and-white — the Tetons had become monochromatic. I stayed at a hotel in Jackson and fell asleep as day turned to night.
Riding Highway 191 back up from the Tetons into Yellowstone it began to snow. My original plan was to ride the Beartooth Pass — which crosses over Shoshone National Park and reaches an altitude of 3,340 metres above sea level — but the snow made that impossible. According to the park service, the pass was closed.
The wet and heavy snow made the ride tough. My visor fogged up, and to clear it I had to open it, slightly exposing my face to freezing pellets of sleet and snow. It felt like I was being pricked with a thousand needles. I was having trouble seeing the vehicles and road.
The conditions were deteriorating by the minute, and it was becoming a safety issue, so I revised my plan and changed course down hill, knowing the weather would be better once I got to a lower altitude.
Heading east on Highway 14 took me out of Yellowstone and down to Cody. I dropped over 760 metres in altitude between the two towns.
The sky remained grey and threatening as though it were just a matter of time before a new deluge fell from the skies. I continued down into Billings, Mont. to avoid Big Horn Pass, the last of the big passes on my trip. Mountain passes just weren’t in the cards for this trip.
As if on cue, the weather improved upon my arrival in Billings. Then, running south to Sheridan along I90, the afternoon sun managed to break through, radiating a warm golden glow over the grasslands and foothills of the Bighorn Range. The road bobbed and weaved its way around the knobby hills and vast fields.
Miles of road stretched out in front of me. It was a great ride in warm weather on a nice fast road with beautiful countryside all around.
Devil’s Tower and Mount Rushmore are easily accessible from the I90, so I stopped in at each location. These sights are awe-inspiring and worth the visit. I would have stayed longer at both but I was anxious to keep up the pace. The desire to get home was stronger than ever. I rode long stretches the last couple of days and arrived in Oakville late at night. I had finally made it back home.
All of the fears I’d had while planning the ride turned out to be baseless. It was a long and arduous journey, but it was without calamity — and just as predicted, I was weathered, tired and sore, but smiling from ear to ear.