John Muir Trail Day 21: Are You a Tree Dweller or a Bush Dweller?


Morning light in Le Conte Canyon


Daily Neet Beat
“I really like it here down in the forest surrounded by mountains” said Brian from Sacramento. Brain was referring to the beautiful Le Conte Canyon in Sequioa Kings Canyon National Parks. I think he was comparing it  to the starkness of the high passes such as Muir we had hiked through the day before. His comment made me think of cats. Yes, really.  Cats are typically “tree dwellers” or “bush dwellers”. If you have a cat that likes to climb up high (and knock things of the mantle for example), your cat is a tree dweller. If your cat likes to crawl under the bed, he/she is a bush dweller. So, when Brian said he likes to be down in the trees, he is probably the human equivalent of a bush dweller.  I must be the human equivalent of a tree dweller as I like being up high above tree line and at the passes. Meow.
I must say though, Le Conte Canyon is beautiful and it is one of my favorite places (OK, at least so far..). Ray and I hike quietly through the canyon in the morning and dream about climbing up each of the side valleys to explore. We may be back. The hanging valley by the Citadel looked especially interesting. We get to the junction of Evolution Creek and turn up it to head up to “the Golden Staircase” and on to Palisade Lakes. The Golden Staircase climbs back and forth past waterfalls and up towards Mather Pass which we will climb over tomorrow. Tonight there is a full moon and we want to stay at Palisade Lake. We get to camp in early afternoon, filter water, and set up camp at tree line. We arm wave about the geology, admire and identify flowers, and watch a garter snake try to hide from us in the shallow water of a creek. We are excited about being under a full moon in this beautiful valley.

Just the Facts

From Little Pete Meadow to Upper Palisade Lake
Total Miles: 221.5
Camp Elevation: 11,000
Full Moon

Photos of the Day

Ray climbing the Golden Staircase

Our camp above Palisade Lake at tree line.


Very interesting geology! The lighter colored rocks are probably a roof pendant which was initially sedimentary rocks deposited in shallow seas that were penetrated by the molten granitic material (grey rocks to the left of the picture) which were then metamorphosed under heat and pressure. Such a textbook out here.
Yellow Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus)
A garter snake hiding under a rock in a creek


  1. Possibly more of a “rock dweller,” descended from the tree dweller branch of the Bushmen.

    1. Grey/Gray – they’re both technically OK, it but “gray” is used in America and “grey” is used in England. Well, OK, I’ll admit I lived in England when I was 13 yrs old and sometimes it still shows!! I had forgotten that about Dr. Moore…he was one of my favorite teachers.

      1. For some reason that was one of his pet peeves. Not sure if it was the Missouri or Harvard in him? Thanks for the awesome blog detailing your “stroll” over the spine of the Sierras!

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