In September of 2008 DH and I made a trip through Yellowstone Park to Cooke City, Montana. From there we drove the switchbacks over Beartooth Pass and then on down to Red Lodge. Although it's been called, "the most beautiful drive in America," it is also intimidating and daunting for the person at the wheel. That's why I let my hubby drive while I gave all kinds of advice and pointed out all the scary and scenic parts as he gritted his teeth and sweat collected on his upper lip.
We left Cooke City just ahead of a storm. We stopped at the Top of The World Store and Motel which was not at the top of the pass. We didn't pause long because, as you can see in this photo, there were already snowflakes in the air.
In a few more miles we were looking at the results of an earlier storm and a highway that zig-zagged up over the crest of the divide.
The road topped out at 10,947 feet before it took us down the face of a cliff and on into Red Lodge. Notice the pole in the background of this photo. It is one of many set along the way to make it possible for snow plow drivers to find the highway during a storm.
In spite of, and because of the incoming weather, I had DH stop several times so I could jump out and photograph the view from the summit. When I got home I went over the pictures with mixed feelings. Most photos of big places never capture the true impressions.
So the other day, using those photos, I went to work on a watercolor to see if I could capture the perspective and sensation of an approaching snow storm at that altitude.
I chose a 14x18 inch format and started with the distant mountains.
Then I added the middle ground, and the small lake down in the valley.
Today I painted in the snowy foreground and the nearby cliffs. I may tweak it a little more but I think it comes closer to my impressions of the moment than the photos did.