Le Conte Canyon is seated deep in the Sierra Nevada, connecting two high elevation sections of the John Muir Trail: Evolution Lake Basin to the North, and Palisade Lakes to the South. Both lake basins exhibit the striking, but austere grey and blue color scheme exclusive to landscapes that only include sky, shale, and ice cold water.
I have backpacked into Le Conte canyon twice now, from both the North and South. Exiting the high altitude lake basins and descending into the rich forest atmosphere of Le Conte is like transitioning from long winter straight into the thick of summer. The forest is alive and humming with wildlife. The trees are vibrant and the ground is oh so soft, compared to the crushed granite of the previous nights.
Le Conte doesn’t have the hallmarks of a traditional backpacking destination: no big lake or far reaching vistas, just a lazy creek that meanders its way downstream. However, there is something truly special about nestling down deep in the canyon, looking up at the granite monoliths that you stood upon the day before. A change in perspective, a reminder to think about the big picture – where we’ve been, where we’re going, and–most of all–where we are.