From the Palisades it’s a steep drop into Le Conte Canyon. The first part of this is down the Golden Staircase. A set of 50 tight, stone-step switchbacks that cut their way down through gullies. There was the beautiful aroma of wild herbs as we wound our way down. The steep descent ended and we followed Palisade Creek until it joined the middle fork of the Kings River. Heading north we had lunch at the Bishop Pass Trail turn off and were back on familiar ground from last year’s hike. We knew now we had the long ascent towards Muir Pass, leaving the meadows and rising through the forest and back above the tree line.

Distance: 15.3; Ascent: 3375′; Descent 3277′