Lower Red Castle Lake -- 6/13/15

lostlandscapes

rope mule
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
328
Been a while since I posted here but with the curiosity about Uintas conditions I figured this would be a good time to reactivate. Mandy and I made our way up to Lower Red Castle Lake this past weekend for our first trek up the famed East Fork Smith's Fork. I was aware of several, differing reports on conditions, so I wasn't exactly sure what we'd find. But with the crowds that this area attracts in summer (so I've heard), we figured this would be a great time to check things out, even if conditions weren't perfect. Turns out, with exception to a little bit of mud, that they were.

We arrived to China Meadows with a couple of hours of daylight to spare. We were greeted aggressively by hordes of mosquitoes and passively by a moose named Bruce. We filled the evening with a little game of stick. One for our dog Ellie, and one to beat off the insects. A distant storm over the Uinta crest hovered quietly in the distance.

Sharpened version2.jpg


099.jpg


We busted down camp early on Saturday morning, eagerly shaking the frost off the tent fly while our coffee cooled off too fast. The trail was muddy, but smooth. And thankfully, it seemed as if we shook off the mosquitoes almost as soon as we hit the trail. The forest ultimately opened up about 5 miles in and gave us our first views of Mt. Baldy and friends. Red Castle itself is barely visible to the left:

100.jpg


We finally made our way to the lake just as some towering Cumulonimbi began to gather above the Highline. Only passing over a handful of snow patches on the hike up, we arrived to a still mostly-frozen Lower Red Castle Lake. And best of all perhaps, the bugs didn't join us on this one. Barely thawed and too cold for the hatch. YES. Here's a 5 shot pano of the Lake from the western shoreline:

101.jpg


After a nice nap and dinner it was time to start thinking about photographs. I scouted the lake for a bit and after finding something I liked, we played a little more stick with the dog. It's an on-going thing, really:

102.jpg


The photographer in me found the shores of Lower Red Castle a little difficult to work. All willow-lined, there weren't many traces of workable foreground that I could find. So when the going gets rough, the going gets...desperate. So into the water I go, up to my crotch to the ice-line for some foreground:

050.jpg


After warming up after that frigid dunking, thinking things were over, the sky decided with it's last gasp to dance a magenta melody after sunset:

104.jpg


Woke up Sunday morning after a deep, quiet night of sleep and stumbled back down to the shoreline of the lake, this time near the northern outlet, hoping to work a cascade or two. Again, I was slowed by the lack of foreground and thickets of willow that made it impossible to get anything worthwhile. So back up to the shoreline, and after a deep breath, back into the water I go. There wasn't as much ice near the outlet so I was able to wade out a little ways until I got the reflection I wanted. Near freezing water up to the thighs at 6:30am? I think I found an all-natural substitute for coffee :eek:

106.jpg


Our leisurely picking up of camp turned into a hurried one as some dark clouds began to hunker down on us from the west. Thankfully, it only ended up being a brief shower. Good thing, as one of us managed to forget their poncho, ahem, @drclef :cool:. And so back to the trailhead we went without incident, minus that one porcupine that crossed the trail that thankfully Ellie didn't spot.

Can't believe it took me until the beginning of my fourth summer here until I made it up to this place! Timing was perfect too, before the mosquitoes and crowds hit. Certainly one of the crown jewels of the High Uintas. Can't wait to explore the upper lake and basin as well.

BONUS, totally amateur gear review:

I recently purchased the Toaks Ultralight Titanium Cook System. I've been sitting on a box of Esbit tabs for over ten years now, and have been thinking lately about how I should give these solid fuel blocks a try. Then this system showed up on Massdrop, and I figured why the hell not. Have to say, after just one weekend of use, that I'm pretty much sold.

Weighing in at a feathery 4 oz, the kit comes with a 550ml pot, titanium spork (foldable), windscreen, and "stove", which is really nothing more than a stand for the pot with a tray for your fuel tab.

107.jpg


Here's the kit put together, with trucker hat for scale:

108.jpg


For a kit so small, light, and simple, there will be compromises. It's not the fastest boil; we got 14 oz of water to come to a boil in about 7 minutes. So if you're used to the instant gratification of a Jetboil than this system might not be for you. Also, these types of kits aren't at all ideal for those that like or need to simmer their meals, as there is no way to control the flame. But if you're an instant coffee and MRE type that only needs boiled water, than this is about as good as it gets. So light, so good. My only complaint is the bottom of the pot does tend to collect a gummy black substance after each burn. Thankfully, although a little more difficult in the field, it is easy to clean off with hot water and a scrubber. A small price to pay for such lightweight efficiency.

Featured image for home page:
slide.jpg
 
Last edited:

Bob

Trailmaster
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
2,546
Nice......its been 45 yrs since I've been to red castle ......
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,909
Awesome! That reflection shot is amazing. That takes some serious dedication to wade into an ice-covered alpine lake to find a better foreground! And then you held that still to still get the reflection. Holy shit man. Thanks for sharing this.

I picked up an esbit kit this year but still haven't used it. @slc_dan is just too easy to bum hot water from, I guess. One of these trips I'll finally try it out. I'm thinking I might want a sack to put the pot in with the residue problem. Do you think that would do the trick and then clean it up later when it's easier at home?
 

Vegan.Hiker

Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2014
Messages
2,090
Beautiful pictures! Great report and review too. I'm tempted to try an esbit stove but as you pointed out, it's hard to turn back from the instant gratification of a jetboil.
 

lostlandscapes

rope mule
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
328
Awesome! That reflection shot is amazing. That takes some serious dedication to wade into an ice-covered alpine lake to find a better foreground! And then you held that still to still get the reflection. Holy shit man. Thanks for sharing this.

I picked up an esbit kit this year but still haven't used it. @slc_dan is just too easy to bum hot water from, I guess. One of these trips I'll finally try it out. I'm thinking I might want a sack to put the pot in with the residue problem. Do you think that would do the trick and then clean it up later when it's easier at home?

Yep, that's pretty much what we did on this trip. The kit came with a super thin nylon stuff sack (should've mentioned that); perhaps a bit too thin as it was getting stuck to the gum on the bottom of the pot and I would worry about it ripping at some point if you're not careful.
 

JoshuaDyal

Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2015
Messages
186
Great trip report!

Sadly, when I arrive in two weeks, it'll probably just in time for the mosquitoes to be in full bloom. :(
 

Blake Merrell

Life Elevated - Rising Higher
Joined
Feb 25, 2013
Messages
593
Oh my goodness! fabulous pictures! and way to sacrifice to get the shot! Thanks for the TR. Now I have to find time to get up there and see this place too!
 

Artemus

I walk
.
Joined
Jun 25, 2012
Messages
4,400
Nice Tim! Welcome back - great to have your excellent TR writing skills and photography back. I love the reflection shot. The Castle is the prettiest single mountain in the Uintas IMO and you captured that quality better than I've seen.

Thanks. Now I've a circumambulation route to discuss with you and the doctor. :twothumbs:
 

leatherman

Huh?
Joined
Jan 24, 2012
Messages
138
As everyone else has said, excellent photography work. You totally timed this trip perfectly. Good to have you back.:)
 

Devo

Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2014
Messages
152
Love! the shots. Sitting in the office drinking hot coffee I can tell you they were worth the frigid struggle! ;)
 

Rockroller

Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2013
Messages
51
Great trip report. The pictures are beautiful. I'm planning on going to Red Castle this fall for the first time. Your pictures make it hard for me to wait but are great motivation for me to get in better shape. Hope you don't mind me asking but what camera do you use. I need to buy a new one and your pictures are awesome.
 

lostlandscapes

rope mule
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
328
Great trip report. The pictures are beautiful. I'm planning on going to Red Castle this fall for the first time. Your pictures make it hard for me to wait but are great motivation for me to get in better shape. Hope you don't mind me asking but what camera do you use. I need to buy a new one and your pictures are awesome.

Thanks! I typically haul a larger DSLR (and thus a larger tripod, lens, etc...) but I carried a mirrorless m4/3 camera with me on this trip - specifically the Panasonic GX1 w/ 14mm 2.5 pancake lens. This system isn't quite on the same level as the higher end DSLR's as far as image quality goes, but it does take a nice photograph. At the expense of image quality though it is nice to shave a few pounds off the load every now and then, which my shoulders thanked me for at the end of the day. As for tripod, I use the diminutive Slik Sprint Mini II when I carry this camera system, which only extends about 3.5' off the ground but accommodates the lighter weight of the camera just fine. Have fun up there, you'll love it.
 

Rockroller

Member
Joined
Sep 21, 2013
Messages
51
Thanks! I typically haul a larger DSLR (and thus a larger tripod, lens, etc...) but I carried a mirrorless m4/3 camera with me on this trip - specifically the Panasonic GX1 w/ 14mm 2.5 pancake lens. This system isn't quite on the same level as the higher end DSLR's as far as image quality goes, but it does take a nice photograph. At the expense of image quality though it is nice to shave a few pounds off the load every now and then, which my shoulders thanked me for at the end of the day. As for tripod, I use the diminutive Slik Sprint Mini II when I carry this camera system, which only extends about 3.5' off the ground but accommodates the lighter weight of the camera just fine. Have fun up there, you'll love it.
Thanks, I appreciate the information.
 
Similar threads
Thread starter Title Forum Replies Date
Jackson Lower Red Castle Lake Backpacking 4
Cody Halls Creek Loop via Lower Muley and Red Slide Backpacking 16
J Scrambles in the Lower Colorado River Corridor AZ/NV; Dec. 11-14, 2020 Hiking & Camping 5
Devin Ashby The Lower Gulch - Escalante (Seeking info on the route) Trip Planning 14
RyanP Lower Death Hollow next week (late May/early June), miscellaneous questions Trip Planning 16
Stephanie B Sixteen Room Ruin and Lower Butler Wash Hiking & Camping 15
Boognish Lower Death Hollow Narrows April 2018 Backpacking 17
fossana Sheep Bridge/Lower JEM trail (Virgin, UT) Conservation Project General Discussion 5
T Dark canyon - lower blm portion with pack goats?? Canyoneering 2
pstm13 Texas Pass Cirque of Towers Lower Wind River Range August 2018 Trip Planning 7
Ross West Canyon quicksand (a/one want to go lower West/Face/Labyrinth August? Trip Planning 3
Strawsome Lower Death Hollow at it's finest Backpacking 3
DiscGo Lower Watermaiden [Video] Hiking & Camping 5
RyanP Lower Death Hollow, mid-April Trip Planning 8
Outdoors24 Overnight in Lower Spring Canyon Backpacking 5
Ravialdo Lower Muley Twist water situation? Trip Planning 13
Udink Lower Horseshoe Canyon Hiking & Camping 0
Kullaberg63 Lower Dirty Devil Backpacking 7
scatman Lower and Midway Geyser Basins plus Buffalo Meadows - Yellowstone National Park - June 26, 2016 Backpacking 5
BJett Lower Escalante Trifecta - Davis Gulch to Fiftymile Creek Backpacking 8
BJett Lower Escalante Trifecta - Willow Gulch to Davis Gulch Backpacking 14
mattvogt7 Lower Escalante Packraft Loop Backpacking 12
Jackson Lower Spring Canyon in Winter Backpacking 14
Nick Floating lower Cataract into Glen Canyon Trip Planning 2
mattvogt7 Lower Cataract Canyon Loop Backpacking 16
Parma Lower Salmon River - Hammer Creek to Heller Bar On The Water 7
IntrepidXJ The Lower San Juan River On The Water 8
IntrepidXJ Lower Grand Gulch Backpacking 5
toejam Lower Sisquoc Loop Backpacking 7
ram Crash Site/Lower Hades Canyon 2-15-15 Canyoneering 1
LarryBoy Water Sources in Lower Grand Gulch Trip Planning 14
Ben wind river range, elkhart park to lower jean lake Backpacking 13
Dave December in Lower Muley Twist Backpacking 20
Udink Lower Price River Hiking & Camping 8
westerner54 Lower Grand Gulch, Below the Narrows Backpacking 3
IntrepidXJ Lower Calf Creek Falls Hiking & Camping 5
Scott Chandler Chimney Rock-Lower Spring Canyon, Cap Reef NP Hiking & Camping 6
Nick Lower Black Box Trip Planning 0
BJett Lower Big Creek - Great Smoky Mountains National Park On The Water 2
Nick Lower Bells Canyon Hiking & Camping 3
Udink Lower San Rafael Hiking & Camping 4
Bill Lower Brimstone Gulch - Escalante Hiking & Camping 11
slc_dan Lower-Lower Muley Twist 4/12/2013 Backpacking 14
Nick Lower Muley Twist vs. Upper Muley Twist Trip Planning 19
slc_dan Lower Salt Creek/Paul Bunyan's Potty Backpacking 11
Dave Lower South Desert, Capitol Reef Trip Planning 0
Artemus Lower Muley Twist in Capitol Reef Backpacking 22
lostlandscapes Lower Black Box TR -- Video Edition Canyoneering 4
Nick Lower Black Box, San Rafael Swell Canyoneering 15
gnwatts Invite Lower Black Box on Friday/Saturday? Meet Up (Members Only) 74

Similar threads

Don't like ads? Become a BCP Supporting Member and kiss them all goodbye. Click here for more info.

Top