We'd spent the past couple of days in western Wyoming on our road trip to the Midwest. Our time there included hiking to a dramatic canyon view on the Sacred Rim Trail in the Wind River Range and venturing into Grand Teton National Park to hike along beautiful Jenny Lake up to Hidden Falls – not to mention seeing my first moose!
Before we left The Cowboy State, however, we got in one final hike within the Shoshone National Forest outside Dubois, Wyoming. Dubois is a small western town of fewer than 750 people with a widely-attended rodeo on Friday nights. We woke up early at The Longhorn Ranch and headed to the trailhead in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness. The gravel road on the way afforded us some beautiful views, ranging from soft, rich greens to rough red-orange rocky outcrops and crags.
The parking lot, surrounded by towering, colorful rock formations, already had several cars in it.
We filled out the registration book at the sign kiosk and made our way up to Lake Louise.
The trail was mostly dry and dusty, winding through treed, rocky terrain and didn't waste any time becoming steep in some sections.
I couldn't stop taking photos of the scenery as we ascended, including some of the wildflowers.
It wasn't long until we were treated to a loud, gushing, cascading Torrey Creek, pushing its way through a tree-lined rocky canyon.
A little ways farther along the trail, we surprisingly came upon a rather wet, swampy, muddy stretch that we had to go off trail to navigate around.
Several spots along the trail followed Torrey Creek and the views were idyllic.
The trail then got steeper and rockier, and ultimately opened up to full exposure with awesome views of the surrounding landscape before ducking back down into a wooded area.
This section was even muddier...
From here, we got a better taste of the power of a gushing Torrey Creek.
After this stopping point, we more or less lost the actual trail, so we did our best to find our way over the boulders to Lake Louise.
After overlooking the lake, I decided I wanted to climb down to the lake level to check out that perspective. Just beautiful!
We wandered around the rocks to see if we could locate the actual trail, which we did find, but then we lost it again and ended up scaling a narrow rock ledge to avoid a cliff area, but once we made it past that section, we rejoined the trail and headed back to the trailhead.
We were very glad to have gotten an early start on this one, because by the time we were heading back to the trailhead, not only had it started getting pretty hot outside, but we also ran into quite a few groups of hikers making their way up the trail – we didn't see anyone else on the trail on our way up.
One hiking duo, possibly from Austria or Germany, was finishing up one of the toughest climbs of the hike and they were pretty concerned about how much farther they had to go to reach the lake from there. They seemed to be losing their steam and I'm not confident they completely understood what we told them, but I hope they were able to finish out the hike. The lake was beautiful and worth the over 1,200 feet of elevation gain.
The sun was getting really hot by this time and I was glad to return to the trailhead, sign us out of the registration book, and continue on our road trip. As we left the wilderness area on the gravel road, it was hard not to notice this fantastic view ahead of us. Blue skies, white puffy clouds, and a unique rocky range jutting out of the trees and sagebrush.
From here, our journey took us due east to South Dakota, where we stayed one more night in a town called Murdo, and then ultimately to Minnesota to join my in-laws for an afternoon BBQ.