Day 5                  
   
The South rim of Palisade Basin at dawn's first light   Looking back on the way out of Palisade basin - 8:00 AM   A refreshing break beside the thundering Kings river
   
The outlet of the Devil's Washbasin, 100 ft below   A slot canyon, through Devils Crags, into the Kings River   Hot and rocky - A Trail of Tears for tortured tootsies
 

This was probably the longest single day, in terms of distance - approximately 17 miles. Much of it was downhill, including the infamous "Golden Staircase" leading out of Upper Palisade Basin, which accounts for a loss of 2,000 vertical feet in 2.5 miles. After that, the hike proceeded along the shaded valley floor for about 6 miles, until turning South, into the Kings river canyon.

The canyon trail starts out close to the water, but soon winds up the slope onto the hot, dry flank of the mountain, far above the cold, clear water for long stretches. The increasing pain in my feet, the hot still air, the complete absence of other hikers, and the smokey pall hanging in the air of the canyon began to wear on me. Maybe it was the fact that, even as my feet worsened, I would be out of bandages and moleskin by the end of the day. Apparently, the moleskin I was using was suceptible to heat, sweat and friction, which caused it to slough off within 30 minutes of application. Maybe it was gerbilskin or some other product?

One of the highlights of the day came as I passed a churning 70-foot wide water hole called Devils Washbasin. It's actually the last in a series of successively larger pools, each filled by a water fall over jumbled granite boulders.

It was hot this day. Probably in the neighborhood of 90F at 4:00 PM, and it remained almost uncomfortably hot even after dusk. By 6:00, I made a spot near Cartridge Creek, and, though derpressed by the prospect of wrecking my feet the following day, I made a dinner, did some laundry, and settled into my tent for the night. In the fading twilight, I watched as first one, then another, then a dozen or more bats zoomed low over my tent (almost all screen, so I could see out quite well), feasting on the mosquitos who'd been my tormentors only minutes before. I like bats.