We heard about this loop from some friends the year before. Our friend Patrick decided to join us on this overnight trip. Unfortunately we were given some incorrect information and didn't take the time to follow up on it. We thought our first day was going to be about 10 miles and all flat or downhill, so we didn't feel the need to get a super early start. So after driving to Cooke City, MT, and up to the trailhead we started out on the 4x4 road until we made it to the Wilderness Boundary. A few groups on ATVs passed up but they were all just going to Lake Abundance.
Eventually we made it to the boundary and the Lake, and that was the last of people we would see for the day.
We were surprised with the fall colors in the high country, the weather was still still warm. It made for a hot day of hiking without any exposure.
At around 10 miles we made it to the Slough Creek Valley, but the miscommunication was that it was about 3 miles between the two valleys. So instead of stopping, we kept hiking along looking for our trail junction. After hiking an hour longer than we should have, we all started bonking and decided to stop and refuel. After a brief rest to ee rolled into our camp spot just before sunset.
I had read that there was a chance for northern lights so I decided to set an alarm for the evening. I'm glad I did, the stars were gorgeous and we did get a small glimmer of aurora looking up Slough Valley.
The following morning we got an early start because we knew it was going to be a difficult climb out along Wolverine Creek.
It was another blue sky day and again, not much shade. So when we took breaks, we took advantage of the shade we could find. This section of the trail didn't have as much fall color, but the views of the mountains were better in my opinion. Along the trail all we could talk about was hitting the gas station in Cooke City and getting an ice cold gatorade with a bag of chips.
We made it back to the car early afternoon, plenty of time to hit the store and take our time driving home through the park. As we were driving back to US212, we were first on scene for an ATV rollover accident. Since Corrie is an EMT, we stopped and offered the person medical attention while their son drove into cell service to call 9-1-1. Meanwhile, while all this happening we are sitting out in the hot sun, exhausted, without water, waiting for EMS to airlift the patient to the hospital and move the crashed vehicle from the road so we could drive home. The lady who crashed ended up being ok, just some bangs and bruises. Crazy end to the trip.
Trip notes: We hiked just shy of 23 miles with 3,300' of elevation in two days. In an area that doesn't have a ton of loop routes, it was fun to be able to start and end in the same place without backtracking.