Le Conte Canyon

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Scenes as we decended thru Le Conte Canyon.


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Here's Jim and Dave crankin' down the switchbacks of Le Conte Canyon. Gravity can be a wonderful thing. All these shots were taken discreetly and handheld while bumping down the trail, and all of these were taken with a 2-stop soft GND held up to my 17-40mm lens. Yes, I hiked with a GND in my hand and just snapped away at nearly every bend in the trail. Jim and Dave never knew I was slappin' a 2-stop over their heads. They may have upped their modeling fees if they knew. Let's keep this on the low down. Or is that down low? Shush it.


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We shot rapids in Le Conte Canyon. Here Jim fiddles with his camera as we came to this beautiful cascade in the bowels of Le Conte Canyon, Kings Canyon National Park. It was late afternoon when I took this pic, and we continued down and spent the night just beyond the bend to the right, which was Big Pete Meadow. As I was changing rolls of film, a large cigar-shaped craft quietly zipped down the canyon and out of sight. We were nervous at first, but we saw big green heads pressed against the window with little waving green hands. I think they were smiling, but their mouths were very very small, but regardless, the overall vibe we got was friendly. I just wished they had dropped a few bags of Three Musketeers, even if they were the mini ones. I don't know what it is about me, I just seem to attract UFO's.


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We had come over Muir Pass the day before and camped at Big Pete Meadow. It was a great site and we had a nice big warm fire with some great sitting logs. I had caught some goldens out of the creek, which always makes me look back even more fondly on a place. We had a big day ahead of us... we were gonna hike down the M.F. Kings River through lower LeConte Canyon, and then head up to the Palisade Lakes, which entailed hiking up the infamous and horrendously steep "Golden Staircase" (pant pant!). But just below Big Pete Meadow, around mid-morning, we came across this place. Little Pete Meadow. It's a beautiful meadow in a grand setting. I snapped this shot from the JMT. You don't have to walk off trail to get nice views. Not far below the meadow we came to a backcountry ranger station where Jim was able to score some more food, including a CHOCOLATE BAR! Three cheers for Jim! Then the trail dropped way down that canyon and turned left up a distant canyon. It's all so beautiful. I remember this very view right here from last year when Jim and I did the South Lake - North Lake loop, we hiked this section of trail for that trip. It was nice to be back. Later I'll hafta tell a quick story about the guy at the ranger station working with the rangers in filming a video on the JMT. The "Midwesterners" we kept passing and getting passed by made it to the ranger station minutes before Jim popped in, and they were all interviewed for this video special. Shoot, a couple more minutes and it could've been us! I was having a bad hair day anyway.

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Hiking near Little Pete Meadow.  I took these shots as Dave and Jim descended down towards Little Pete Meadow, shortly after we had broken camp at Big Pete Meadow. I don't know who these Pete fellers were, but they sure had some beautiful meadows named after them. We continued on down to that far canyon and hung a luey and continued on up the next canyon near the Palisades, cranking up the infamous and very steep "Golden Staircase" to Lower Palisade Lake. It was a long, physically demanding day through stunning country. Right now I hardly recall the pain we experienced, but the beauty we saw that day is embedded in my mind forever and ever. Unless I get Alzheimer's. Then somebody better remind me and show me pictures, often.


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I caught this little guy in the M.F. Kings River in LeConte Canyon near our Big Pete Meadow campsite. I didn't have nearly as much time to fish as I would've like to (that's the life of a thru-hiker!), but I still managed to toss out a fly now and then. I caught this guy on a #10 black ant, snapped a shot, showed Jim and Dave (Dave had never seen a golden before), and tossed it back. Call me a big fat meanie, that's okay. These trout have golden sheens on their sides, with a rich olive green back, bright red/orange bands on their underbelly and down the lateral line, black spotted fins and parr marks, and white-tipped fins. What am I explaining what they look like, a photo is worth a trillion words. If this were a digital photo, it would only be worth, oh, let's get liberal here, worth about a couple dozen words. (ooOOOoooOOooo!!!) I'm jest jokin'. <---do two "joke statements" make a serious comment? Hmmm. A couple evenings before I took this photo was when Jim caught a golden smaller than this one and snapped the fishing rod clean in two. That's gotta be embarrassing for him and his family, friends, and pets. It's gotta be.


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Middle Fork Kings River Between Little Pete and Grouse Meadows.


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Grouse Meadow.  It was tough to leave this spot. Jim and Dave hiked on ahead, I stayed back to snap a few shots and take a few casts with my fly. I caught a few golden trout on a fly and snapped a few pics, but just being there was so beautiful and warm with towering canyon walls all around me that it was really difficult to hoist my backpack on my back and continue on the trail. This would be such a great destination in itself. Miles and miles from the nearest trailhead. I figured Tehipite Valley is about 30+ miles downriver from this spot, which is an even wilder place, and I hope to hike in there from here someday. But living the temporary life of a thru-hiker made it necessary to continue on down the trail to see new wondrous places. And that we did. Over and over and over again.


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This is looking up at a waterfall cascading down the canyon wall. This is the creek that drains a lake called Ladder Lake. It's called Ladder Lake because you pretty much need a ladder to get there. It's high up the steep canyon. I want to climb up there very bad. I hear the fishing is outstanding too, but you didn't hear it from me.

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Waterfall near Golden Staircase.