Winter drives hit different here in Idaho. After growing up in West Texas and experiencing the drab scenery of dead brown grass and dirt fields as far as the eye can see, I have flourished in the winter wonderland of East Idaho! Of course the snow isn't always pretty, especially late in the season as it begins to melt and turns brown and gross too. This month, however, the snow is wonderful and I'm grateful it is here. Two frosty mornings were marked by dense fog this week, coating everything in a glimmering layer of ice. The trees, especially in the surrounding mountains, are laced in white and stand gracefully in the face of the plummeting temperatures of the long frigid nights and short cold days. At golden hour, the landscape is bathed in gold. Bold oranges and reds shine through layers of ice suspended in the atmosphere as the sun says goodbye once more to our humble home. How can one not marvel at the glorious world around us when surrounded by such intense beauty?
We drove northeast along highway 20 before exiting in Ashton and driving east/northeast along the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. We left around 3:30pm, giving us exactly 1 hour before sunset to catch the last light of day on the Teton Mountain Range to the east. From the scenic byway, we drove along E1400 Rd N and E1200 Rd N to capture unobstructed views of the Tetons, framed by dark groves of trees below them. The Scenic Byway closes at the Yellowstone Trail Parking lot, across the road from the abandoned train tunnel I have mentioned before. From the byway, you can catch glimpses of the Tetons through thick forest. The roads are mostly drivable with 4-wheel drive. We didn't need chains. Snow is expected in the coming days though, so plan accordingly before heading anywhere far.
Any drive into the hills comes with its challenges during the winter, but if approached carefully and wisely, the views can be well worth the risk! Nature is one to show us how vulnerable we really are. Never underestimate her power. A simple mistake, especially during the winter can have lasting effects. Gratefully a drive is mostly safe when compared to backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, alpine skiing and snowboarding, etc. If you don't have chains, I recommend buying a good pair then learn how to install them (in the cold, not in a garage). I recommend having blankets, coats, extra socks and shoes, food, water (not left in your car, otherwise that turns to ice) and a first aide kit, among whatever else you feel to bring in your car at all times. These simple items are lifesavers when the weather unexpectedly turns for the worse or your car decides to call it quits hours from home. Be smart and be wise, nature can be quite enjoyable when we visit her with respect and admiration in our hearts.
Enjoy a few pictures from our drive! Also, I hope to head to Kelly Mountain to snowboard this weekend, so stay tuned for a potential blog post contingent upon my chest cold clearing up and plans lining up! The snow has been plentiful so far, so the mountain should be well worth the trip!