|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
I hiked up to Lower Red Castle Lake the first day--about 9 miles. It was raining for the last part of the trip, which made things harder. I had hoped to go all the way to East Red Castle, but I just got too tuckered out. Besides, I found a perfectly sheltered, flat, soft spot and wasn't willing to just walk on past. The second day I backpacked up to Smith's Fork Pass Lake, hoping to set up camp. But it was just too windy, exposed, and rocky. I stashed my pack, hiked up over the pass, ate lunch and took some photos, and came back to my pack. Not wanting to spend a miserable night in those conditions, I decided to carry my pack back down to the previous camp site. On the way I watched a white wolf along the eastern meadows of the basin. I didn't even know there were wolves in the area. That afternoon was perfect: a nap, no hurry, comfortable temperatures, enough sun and a breeze to dry me after washing, and one of those very slow sunsets that I welcomed with full attention and a few tunes on my harmonica. Moments like those are, for me, the primary allure of backpacking. The next day I just hiked back to my car, listening to tunes on my MP3 the entire way. Usually I enjoy the silence, so that was different for me.