I had a great summer with my Mom and Dad in southern Saskatchewan and decided to drive home the end of September. It was going to be a long drive all the way to the B.C. coast with just my dog to talk to. I gave Mom and Dad a big hug, loaded my dog and belongings and away I went ..off on another adventure. It was so hot, we had heat breaking temps and I had on a tank top, shorts and sandals. I wanted to go through Montana to stop and visit friends on the highway 2, as luck would have it they were not home so I carried on. I stayed in a small town and filled up with gas in the morning and a native gentleman asked me what was a girl like me doing all alone in such a remote place and where was I heading. He introduced himself as the owner and hauled out a map after asking me which direction I was going. He was concerned for me and told me I could not proceed to the Glacier National Park as the pass had just been shut down that morning due to the first snowfall. It was early to have this kind of weather he said and he helped me map out a different route. I remembered seeing his worry frown between his brows and I had a shiver go down my spine. He bid me well as did two other people there and safe travels. Little did I know how those words were going to haunt me through my journey. I had no idea that Montana has a minimum of 290 passes and I would be passing over some very dangerous mountain peaks in a snow storm with very little experience in driving in snow and icy conditions.
It hit everyone unaware….one moment I was driving in beautiful sunny weather and the next it was a complete white out. They called it the storm that never was for the way it just hit the country so suddenly and with such a lack of news coverage nobody really knew what hit them! I had to back track twice as two more passes were shut down and I was beginning to get very worried. I phoned my brother in Alberta and he told me to park my truck and they would see me in the Spring time when the snow melted. So no sympathy there, I had to carry on!
Whenever I saw a sign with “Pass Ahead” I just shuddered! I steeled myself not to look down and not to even think about how high up I was and the seemingly bottomless edges of these mountains that held such beauty and danger.
At one peak I couldn’t see more than a foot in front of me, I didn’t know if I was pulling over on an edge or going over the side of a mountain that’s how bad It was. This big semi pulled up in front of me and he got out of his truck to do a check and he spotted me trying to clean my windshield. He said as he got closer he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.. a redhead with shorts and a tank top on. He yelled are you okay? I yelled back at him.. “I’m terrified” … he told me to stay on his butt and he would get me out of this mess and that’s just exactly what I did. Every 10 miles or so he would stick his arm out his window and give me a thumbs up… I think he saved my life. He gave me hope, calmed my fears and I think of him to this day as my highway angel. Thank you Mitch! The oddness of this storm was the silence.. One would think the death of 75,000 cows by upwards of five feet of snow might get some national attention. Like the reporter writes in the article “A Record-Setting Blizzard Killed 75,000 Cows and You Might Not Have Even Heard About It”… Well I not only heard about it.. I drove through it!
Bad weather followed me right to the coast, the grand finale being hurricane warnings and no ferries running to get to Vancouver Island.
copyright Es-tee Miller
“Bad weather always looks worse through a window”… Tom Lehrer