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East Fork Smiths Fork Trail
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mini location map2015-07-08
8 by photographer avatarWoodsnative
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East Fork Smiths Fork TrailMountainlands, UT
Mountainlands, UT
Backpack avatar Jul 08 2015
Backpack26.50 Miles 5,547 AEG
Backpack26.50 Miles5 Days         
5,547 ft AEG
1st trip
Taking this trip is like tackling a long hike in the Grand Canyon for me: lots of pre-planning, with a bit of risk, and great rewards at trails end.
Day 1: Took 5 teenagers out for our annual backpacking trip in the Uintas. After a late start, a brief afternoon shower caught us on the way up to the ridgeline of Bald Mountain. But that was just the prelude. Once we were approaching 11,000 feet and fully out in the open on the ridge, the rain and wind came up strong, for over an hour. Luckily it was at our backs. We pressed forward through the clouds/fog, and had to pull out the GPS to be sure of the trail a few times with the low visibility. The kids impressed me because none wanted to give up, and even had a few laughs when we got hailed on. It got intense for a while though, and I was worried. Once we got down the other side ( about mile 8 ) we started to look for a campsite. I chose a spot where we had a lot of red pine needles handy, since everything was wet. Dinner was around 9pm, but it cheered everybody up.
Day 2: For the first time, I actually succeeded in drying clothing next to a fire. It took 3 hours, but the kids were sleeping in, so it worked out. Finished our backpack up the Boulder Mountain trail to the Smiths Fork trail, and got a campsite in the tall trees below Red Castle. The trail in the drainage was full of horse tracks and flowing with muddy water. There were some marshes to cross, so we ended up with wet shoes again. At 4:30 we were day-hiking up to Red Castle Lake, and hooked into a few fish for dinner that night.
Day 3: Our best fishing day. We caught fish in Red Castle Lake and Upper Red Castle Lake, even though it was around midday. The Tiger Trout were plentiful and large. This was my first trip seeing them. At 3pm we hurried down to camp in front of another hail storm. It rained for 3 hours so we took naps before dinner. Then that night it rained and thundered again. One tent had a leak in the floor, so we spent Friday morning drying a sleeping bag with good success.
Day 4: Got back on the trail and bushwhacked over to East Red Castle Lake. It was scenic but rain wasn't far off. We got a short burst but stuck it out for the biggest trout we have ever caught. The longest was 17 inches, which is a monster for a mountain lake. Cleaned up the fish and hit the trail just as the rain began. Shortly we felt the temperature drop and we got some hail and then some snow. We moved on down the East Red Castle Trail and back to our first campsite, where we had a wonderful fish dinner. Tiger trout have an orange salmon-colored meat, which is almost as good as a native cutthroat or brook trout. When they are smothered in butter in a foil dinner, it is 5 star dining!
Day 5: Hiked out with good weather and great memories.
If you don't run, you rust.
-T. Petty
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90+° 8am - 6pm kills
prehydrate & stay hydrated
11.5 inch Teflon Coated Umbrella
Super Wide Brim Sun Hat for Men or Women
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