We continue our tour of great places for breaks, naps, or campsites, this time reviewing the penultimate forty miles of the trail. Previous entries include: Happy Isles – Marie Lakes Trail Junction, Marie Lakes Trail Junction – Silver Pass, and Silver Pass – Muir Pass.
Man-Eating Rock (~ 133 miles from Happy Isles) Map. The man-eating rock in LeConte Canyon is no work of art, but after a couple of weeks on the trail, you have to snicker a bit. Yes, it’s a pretty obvious example of a leave-no-trace violation, and, no, I wouldn’t recommend that anyone repeat the gag anywhere else, but I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t make me chuckle, every time I see it. Since it’s in LeConte Canyon, it also happens be in a particularly scenic area. There are lots of camping areas, near water, from this granite creature all the way until Big Pete Meadow.
Grouse Meadow (~ 137 miles from Happy Isles) Map. Grouse Meadow ought to be overrun by mosquitos, but I’ve never encountered a single flying pest during my stops there. (Of course, I’ve only experienced it late in the year.) What I have seen is an ideal example of a Sierra Nevada meadow: a winding stream running through an ocean of green, surrounded by pine forest and granite. If you can’t camp here, at least stop for a long break.
Lower Palisade Lake (~ 146 miles from Happy Isles) Map. Once you make it to the top of the Golden Staircase, you’ll be ready for a breather. Lower Palisade Lake has water, level campsites, scenery, and (fortunately or unfortunately) company, in the form of other hikers.
Lake Marjorie (~ 158 miles from Happy Isles) Map. If you are intending to stay on the north side of Pinchot Pass, this is a great place to spend the night. The shear wall to the west of the lake is impressive in the morning light, and the campgrounds are plentiful and level. Once you get settled, explore the area around the outlet stream of Lake Marjorie.
Next week, the last forty miles of trail.
Good hiking, Ray