After Yellowstone, I continued south to Grand Tetons National Park. I'd been looking forward to coming here since the day I began planning this trip and specifically, there were a couple of landmarks here that I had dying to shoot. The Tetons are a very unique looking mountain range and I couldn't wait to see them for the first time. To my utter disappointment, the weather took a turn for the worse and when I arrived the fog was so thick that the mountains were nowhere to be found. Even worse, it was supposed to be like this for a full week! I ended up staying for two days hoping that something might change, but unlike Yellowstone, luck was not with me at the Tetons. On the positive side, I befriended a local musician named Madelaine Germany and ended up spending the day hanging out with her and her friends. She's an incredible singer and you can check out her stuff here: http://www.madelainegerman.com/
Feeling disappointed, I resolved to visit the Tetons again in August and got in the car and began the journey back south. Little did I know that this would end up being the most frightening and unsettling day of my journey.
My next destination was Great Sand Dunes National Park about 12-hours south near the Colorado/New Mexico border and I was going to attempt getting there in one day. About two hours after departing the Tetons, it became apparent that wasn't going to happen. As I made my way down the two-lane highway, the snow began to fall. Then it began to fall harder. It wasn't long before the once plowed roads became covered in white powder and it became ever more difficult to maintain traction. Many months ago before I departed, I told a friend my biggest concern on this trip was getting caught in a freak snowstorm in the middle of nowhere, and now that fear was becoming more of a reality with each passing moment. Anytime, I came up on a car in front of me, my windshield would be covered in a spray of sludge and ice which immediately froze to my windshield. I tried my defroster but to no avail, then turned to my windshield wipers which unbeknownst to me were covered in a thick layer of ice and to my horror only resulted in severely worsening my already limited visibility. Every 15 minutes I needed to pull over and wipe my windshield down, but with the snow so thick, it was impossible to find a safe spot to do so. I could feel my heart rate increasing and my palms began to sweat. Like a holy mantra, I began repating to myself, "Calm people live, panicky people die. Calm people live. Panicky people die." A phrase that I had heard for the first time just days before, but today found myself desperately clinging to for support.
After what felt like an eternity, the speed limit finally began to drop and I arrived in the small town of Craig, Colorado. I pulled into the first motel I saw and got a room for the night. Through my window, I could see the snow continuing to fall. It wouldn't let up till after midnight. I paced around the room for about an hour trying to calm my nerves before finally falling asleep.