Beartooth Pass is one of those places I've heard about, but never dreamed I go there - much less ride a motorcycle over the pass. The anticipation of getting there was intense - I kept asking myself, "is this Beartooth road yet?" Fortunately, I only asked Gary that once, and he said, "Yes."
We had a late lunch in some little town in the mountains. Someone asked the waiter whether the place was open year round, and he told us it absolutely was. Lots of skiing, lots of snowmobiling, and lots of drinking - he said it's a small drinking town with a people problem!
Gary mentioned at lunch that it was 42*F on the mountain - a statement that didn'st sink in until we hit ... oh, I don't know, 7,000 feet? Maybe 8,000? That's where the fog and smoke layer hit, and the temp dropped about ten degrees. Suddenly, I was regretting wearing my fingerless gloves - they're summer weight, and my warm, waterproof gloves were in my saddlebag. Fortunately, the rest of me was warm, as I'd layered up before leaving lunch.
It got colder. And the turns got tighter. The smoke from a dozen or so wildfires burning in Montana and the western states right now.
Soon, my hands were hurting, and the smog was so thick we were in first gear, maybe 30 feet apart, with our blinkers going. Our riding order was Scott, Gary, David, then me, Doug, Brice, Jonnie, and Rick. I could only see David's flashers - not Gary's, much less Scott's.
It was eerie riding through near silence, with steep dropoffs to the side, with my fingers going numb. Eventually we reached the top and started down the other side. Once we got back below the smoke layer --- simply stunning. Beautiful sunlight, deep shadows in the clouds, snow on the side of the road ... and way, way down in the valley, a tiny little ribbon of black was the highway we started on.
Switchbacks, curves, rockslide nets, and more switchbacks, and befoer I knew it we were back down the hil, and rolling into Red Lodge - where our brothers were waiting by the driveway, waving us in.
My first reaction when we got into the parking spots? "That was AWESOME! Let's do it again!"
Nope - Sturgis tomorrow, or maybe the next day.
Following the guy in front of me.