Red Castle Backpack Trip - July 4-6, 2008

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Introduction note (by Joe): Christine and I spent this 4th of July weekend backpacking up to Red Castle and Red Castle Lakes on the north slope of the Uinta Mountains in Utah. We used the China Meadows trailhead just south of Mountain View, Wyoming. We were joined this weekend by Marco & Lorna, friends from Green River that share our passion for the mountains. Red Castle (12,566') is a prominent red granite formation in the Uinta Mountains. It dramatically towers above the valley floor. There are three lakes named for Red Castle. We camped at Lower Red Castle Lake (10,758'), which was still below tree-line and fully thawed. We day-hiked up to partially frozen Red Castle Lake (11,295') and fully frozen Upper Red Castle Lake (11,542').


Friday - July 4th: We started walking at about 10:00 AM Friday and kept moving steadily up the well-maintained trail to our weekend campsite at Lower Red Castle Lake ten miles in from the trailhead. We had to keep moving because of the intense mosquito activity. Once we stopped for a moment, the mosquitoes would swarm around us. We chose a well-established campsite overlooking the lake and Red Castle. We took advantage of the existing fire-pit to smoke out the mosquitoes. We were able to watch two moose feeding on the swampy drainage below the lake. Storms moved in that evening and brought a rumbling thunder that echoed through valley.

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First view of Red Castle from two miles away.
Christine & Lorna crossing stream.
Christine, Lorna, & Marco approach Red Castle.
Christine, Joe, & Lorna near our campsite.
Late day sun on Red Castle.


Saturday - July 5th: We agreed to keep our camp in the same spot, so today became a dayhike outing. We headed farther up the canyon to see the other Red Castle lakes. It ended up being a great outing with light packs in nice weather. The mosquitoes all but disappeared as we rose above treeline near Red Castle Lake. The snow slopes and boulder scrambling were easier without our full backpacks. We ended up covering about seven demanding miles as we explored the upper canyon area.

Christine, Joe, & Lorna with falls in background. Joe crossing snow slope above Red Castle Lake. Looking back at route across snow and boulders to Upper Red Castle Lake. Marco & Lorna above Red Castle Lake. Group lunch break above Red Castle Lake.
Red Castle & Red Castle Lake. Lorna, Joe, & Christine above Red Castle Lake. Christine near frozen Upper Red Castle Lake. Christine & Marco traversing snow slope. Marco, Lorna, & Christine in the boulders.
Christine crossing snow slope. Lorna & Joe under Red Castle Falls.   Christine below Red Castle Falls. Red Castle Falls.


Sunday - July 6th: We packed up and hiked out with a cloud of mosquitoes keeping us company. Thank goodness for DEET. We finally got relief from the mosquitoes when a storm moved in and soaked us with rain and hail the final two miles to the trailhead.


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