The Great Road Trip of 2015
Colorado to Alberta
I had been planning and romanticizing it in my head for months – my great Road Trip of 2015.
I was to start by quickly heading though Jackson and Yellowstone, on to Glacier National Park in northern Montana, and eventually across the border in to Canada to spend some time in Banff and Jasper National Parks and whatever else I could find (Ghost River Wilderness, Bugaboo Provincial Park, ect…). It was to be a solo landscape photography adventure where I’d shoot epic sunrises and sunsets each day at beautiful locations, and nap, hike, bike, or kayak (float) throughout the days.
Weather can easily change plans very quickly and by the first night when I got to Yellowstone, I was already becoming optimistically skeptical as wildfire smoke and light rain hindered the beautiful sunset I had envisioned over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. Once darkness set in, the rain really started to fall and instead of resting and camping in the park for sunrise like I planned, I decided to just get back in the car and drive until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more.
I awoke early the next morning outside of Townsend, Montana, to more light rain and continued on the additional four hours to West Glacier, the gateway to Glacier National Park. I spent the day driving the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road, chasing light through periodic breaks in the thick clouds and avoiding the sporadic rain, sleet, and snow. It was beautiful, but definitely not the ideal way to see such an amazing place.
And that’s really how this trip went. Chasing the minimal ‘good’ light through incredibly beautiful places while I simply tried to stay warm and dry.
The romanticized trip that had played over and over in my head was not to be. Over the course of nine days, I saw precipitation every day, I woke up to snow a couple mornings, I had to throw my shoulder into my car door to force it open through a quarter inch of ice that had frozen overnight, I didn’t touch my kayak because floating in 45° weather didn’t really seem fun, biking in the rain just wasn’t appealing, and even though I had bear spray, multiple people essentially called me an idiot for considering hiking alone through grizzly country.
Towards the end of the trip, the weather did finally begin to clear, but I was just too beat down and hemorrhaging money while not having a great time. Under a finally-blue sky in Banff, I headed the 21 hours home with a small sense of satisfaction, but an even larger longing to get back.