Friday, June 6, 2008
Sylvan Pass and the Trip to Keyhole
The original plan was to backtrack the route, going to Moran Junction and then taking Togotee Pass. However as we were filling our truck with diesel we met a couple that had crossed into Yellowstone taking Sylvan Pass from Cody. They said the road was good. Returning to camp we asked the campground hosts who told us that the road was brand new, slow, but new.
We decided to go for it and headed to fishing bridge and then east. A little past the bridge we encountered a......... yup bear jamb. This was a sow black bear and two cubs. Man the park is full of bears! !7 total for the trip! Anyway the road was new and not very steep as we climbed the pass. The views were spectacular as we made good time up the mountains.
The pass is 8600 feet in elevation so we crossed it and began to descend the steepest and longest road yet. Putting the flashers on, shifting down to first gear, and engaging four wheel drive allowed us to crawl down the hill. It was a long crawl at 20 miles per hour! What a spectacular pass and not heavily traveled. We only had to pull over three times to let people pass.
It was a little unnerving to see where someone had crashed over the barrier and to see dents in the guard rail. There was also a lot of water flowing down the road side,(We later found out that there was a rock fall warning for the pass)!
When we reached the bottom a trio of bighorn rams were grazing serenely next to the road. Again, what a beautiful drive. We stopped at the firefighters memorial where fourteen died in 1937 and it made us think again of all the lives fought fighting fires that should have been left to burn.....And thinking how Mike and Phil had been forest firefighters.
The rest of the trip was uneventful to Worland, where we spent the night in a full hookup with long hot showers!
The next day we woke to a rainy morning with the mountains obscured from view. The forecast was for snow above 8000 feet but we decided to press on and headed east on US 16. AS we drove through Tensleep we saw a beautiful campground with huge spots and big trees. We should have stayed there.
The trip up the Bighorns was beautiful as we drove up Tensleep Canyon past the many caves of the Madision Formation. Along the south side of the valley you could see the old road where we cross county skied. Memories filled our hearts as we passed Deer Haven then Meadowlark lodge. Renita asked if if that were the hill where I was injured while sledding on a Christmas tree expedition, (She didn't have to remind me).
Crossing the pass we finally encountered snow but it wasn't bad so we downshifted and made it to Buffalo. All the creeks were flooding and most of the roads into the mountains were closed due to the hard winter!
The rest of the trip to Keyhole Lake was a grunt as high winds buffeted us sideways and heavy rain forced us to slow down. Luckily a great campsite awaited us as we pulled in and set up. What a day for our 37th anniversary! The drive was a celebration of our thirty years in Wyoming. We had a simple meal and celebrated with a rootbeer. Clear skies.