Slough Creek May 2023


Feb 14, 2023
We flew out for Bozeman the evening of May 28, had quite the ordeal with a flight delay during our connection, and then a giant mix up at our hotel when we finally arrived, that couldn't be remedied at 2am. We dozed off for a few hours, then woke up at 6 to shower, get the rental car, and grab some groceries, camp fuel, & bear spray so we could head into the park & down to Madison campground which I'd booked for the next 5 nights. Amber would stay there for a night or two while I'd be on trail.

The forecast was calling for rain every day of the trip, so at this point I was just hoping there wouldn't be back to back days of heavy downpour. On our way in we stopped along the new entrance road to look down at where the old road had washed out, it was quite a site to see. I went to backcountry office in Mammoth to pick up my permit for the following day. We made a quick stop at the artist paint pots, which I hadn't seen since our first trip in 2019. After checking into our campsite & getting things set up there, we headed out to Old Faithful, hoping to walk the UGB for a bit, but that's when the first downpour came. We made our way into the inn where I grabbed a few drinks to sip on, and we opted to head back to camp rather than waiting to see OF.

I woke up around 5am the next morning and started the drive up toward the Slough Creek trailhead. The drive was quiet & peaceful, we saw a sow black bear with two cubs coming down from Dunraven Pass, and a lone grizzly in Lamar Valley. Around 8:30 we arrived at the trailhead, and parked away from everyone to make some breakfast and coffee. I'd been wanting to camp up Slough Creek for a few years now. I'd been up there a few times before, exploring off trail along the creek near the entrance road or day hiking to the first meadow. Every time, I wanted to venture further in. I had a permit to camp there in mid June of 2022, but then along came the flood waters. I was happy to finally be there, and under sunny blue skies, at least for the time being. I hiked out around 10am, May 30.

There were a lot of day hikers out the first few miles, but the crowds thinned out once I get beyond the first meadow. The only wildlife I saw during the hike in was a few deer, a marmot, and some bison grazing out in the meadows. Around 1pm the sky got pretty dark, and I got rained on for an hour or two, not nearly as bad as I'd expected. I made it to campsite 2S4 around 2:30, got all set up, and collected some firewood for later. I thought about hiking out past the site for a bit, but chose to just have a lazy evening instead. It was a beautiful setting, and I was still pretty tired from traveling the past few days. I had dinner around 6:30 & walked down to the creek after to see an elk up on the hill, a bison across the water, and a beaver that hung out right by camp for a while (couldn't get a photo of the elk) I started my fire around 8, and by 9 it was starting to rain again. I drowned what was left of the camp fire, and the night was dead quiet.

I woke up around first light the next morning, hoping to see some movement in the hills across the creek, but all was dead calm. I enjoyed my coffee & breakfast, packed up my (still damp tent) and made my way out around 9am. The plan was to meet Amber back at the trailhead around noon, so we could visit the canyon & Hayden Valley. No big wildlife sightings on day two either, just more dear and bison. I hardly saw any people until I got right back to the first patrol cabin, a wagon was headed up to the Silvertip Ranch as a passed by. The morning went from sunny to overcast quite a bit, but it was cool & windy with no rain. I was pleasantly surprised to have no issues with bugs on this hike. We spotted a group of pronghorns on our way back toward Tower Junction.

All photos shot with Sony a6300. 55-210mm for wildlife, 28-70mm for landscapes. Still getting used to this platform, after years of lugging around a big heavy Canon DSLR.

Bears seen on the drive to the trailhead:

Coming into the first meadow:

Sounds like an enjoyable trip - even with the rain. @Dreamer and I headed back there to see the infamous outhouse on our night at 2S3. We were wondering how you guys fared.

You captured the beauty of the greenness of the meadows and the surrounding areas wonderfully! That grizz pic is great! (I love my Sonys!) Slough was beautiful back to the ranger cabin.

We were surprised at the lack of bugs and overall number of day hikers. I'm guessing that will have changed in a week or two...
I expected the bugs to be much worse, I hiked in on day 1 in all long clothes with my head net ready to go. By the time I got to camp, I was in gym shorts & no sleeves, enjoying the nice warm weather.

The Sony has been quite a learning curve, I just switched to that platform recently. The first one I bought had a shutter mechanism failure, FedEx lost the 2nd one I purchased, then a few weeks later they lost the 28-70mm lens I'd bought for it (luckily I found a local seller who had one, and grabbed that the day before we flew out) I'll still keep the Canon around for the time being, but I think mirrorless will work better on longer trips, if I can learn to conserve battery life a bit.
It was downright hot at times for us.

The menu systems for the Sony's certainly take some learning. I have an A7R3 as my main and a 6500 as a backup. Sounds like you had some bad luck, but the mirrorless is really nice - especially for backpacking, and Sony's got a great mirrorless lineup for cropped and non-cropped sensors. Hope you dig it as you get more used to it.
Long term, I think it'll be a good fit. If I end up liking this setup well enough, I'll probably look into an A7 at some point and keep the 6500 as a backup. By the end of our week out there, I was finally getting used to the menu layout. Considering my lack of experience with the setup, I'm quite pleased with the results overall.
Your shot of the meandering Slough Creek is wonderful, and I'm envious of the beaver picture. I still have yet to see one in the wild.

Glad you got some semi-decent weather for your trip. I was really expecting constant rain on ours, but like you, it turned out to be pretty reasonable. I did come home with a lot of mosquito bites though.