Miles above sea level, where the air is thin and snow lingers all year, intrepid drivers steer along the precipices and hairpin turns of Colorado's San Juan Mountains, the jeeping capital of America.
The jeep road to Imogene Pass, high in the San Juan Mountains above Teluride, Colorado, looks formidable to this novice at mountain jeeping. situated on a narrow ledge between a steep mountainside and the abyss, it is barely wide enough for my rented Cherokee. But as I begin to get the feel of the four-wheel drive, my confidence grows. By hugging the slope just outside my window, I can keep my jeep's right wheels a safe distance from the precipice and even feel secure enough to enjoy the view: the valley below, a waterfall on the other side, and, ahead of me, stands of aspen and glimpses of another jeep going up the mountain on the one-way road.

Hmm. I seem to be catching that jeep, and I'm not going very fast. It's almost as if it were going downhill. Surely not. Not on this road. It's one way, isn't it? Was there a sign? I don't remember one. There's that car again. Front pointed this way. Maybe it's backing uphill. Omigod. I drop into low gear and creep to the right. According to the rules of the jeep road, drivers going uphill have the right of way. Thank you, but I don't want it. I move over another inch, then another, then another. Finally, I just stop. It stops. Life stops. I set the brake, then get out to look. I have maybe two tires' width of room before the world ends, two and a half if I don't mind having air under half a tire. I do mind.

Somehow, we pass each other without incident. I'm alive!