Yosemite 2006

Well, Summer 2006 we decided to go camping in Yosemite. We knew it would be crowded, but the chance to really stay in the valley was too good to miss. And, who knows, we might see some bears..... We arrived in Yosemite and set up camp in the Upper Pines campground. Although full, the sites were not too crowded....

The first couple of days were spent in and around the valley floor. We managed to raft down the river despite the low water level, and to get around the valley on our bikes. Saw a little wildlife (not a lot) but had a really good view of a mule deer next to the bike path.

The excitement started on day 3. The children wanted to see if they could see anyone climbing on El Capitan, so we drove down the valley to have a look. Whilst waiting, Yanira heard some people talking about bears - we asked, and were told that about 5 minutes earlier a mother bear and cub had been seen heading away towards the river. Not expecting much, we headed to the river bank further upstream.

To my surprise, there were the bears. "Mummy" was trying to persuade the baby to cross - and he didn't want to make the final jump to the other side. With the children lying on a rock watching from a distance of about 50 yards, we were able to watch the bears for about 15 minutes.

It was an absolutely wonderful experience to sit and watch the bears - the drama eventually ended when "Baby" headed back to our side of the river, walked about 25 yards up the bank towards us and then jumped in and swam across! The last we saw they disappeared into the woods on the other side....

I then said something that turned out to be prophetic. Having always wanted to see a bear, I thought it possible that we would see more.... That night, back at the campsite, we had our usual fire and then went to bed. The children were soon asleep, but Yanira and I were just dozing off when we suddenly heard shouting and screaming from a site to our right. We quickly guessed it was a bear - sure enough, as I looked out of the tent, an adult bear walked across our site (on the photo above he walked between the tent and the table you see in the front right) to a camp on our left before finally heading back into the woods. A ranger turned up at our site in less than a minute - much too quick to be a coincidence. He asked which way the bear had gone as he prepared a paint ball gun! Whilst talking, he told us that they had had a problem recently with a bear raiding sites and were trying to drive it off....

The following day we toured the valley again and headed up to Glacier Point.

More fabulous weather

As you can see, the weather was very kind to us .... not a cloud in the sky!

And so, our final night in Yosemite! It turned out to be a little more exciting than we expected!

Having seen the bear at the site the night before, we were a little more cautious Michael & Jessica wanted to go and play on some rocks near the site, but once it was getting dusk we made them stay around the site. We ate our dinner and put away the food (we had been using the bear locker for food storage all along). It was earlier evening, so we weren't really expecting to see anything.... At about 8:30 Michael asked if he could get a stick to throw on the fire. I headed over to the bear locker to put away some food with Michael right beside me.

At this point you need to quickly look at the picture of the campsite above - as you look at it, I am approaching the locker and Michael is about to step to the side of it (well inside our site) to pick up a stick. Just as I am about to reach the locker Michael shouts "Bear!" at the top of his voice and runs back past me. Fully expecting to see the bear at the edge of the site, I look for it in the shadows!

Michael meantime has (VERY sensibly) run and jumped in the car. Jessica, seeing her brother running and hearing the shout, also decides to run and seems to be heading for Nebraska! Fortunately Yanira grabs her (as Jessica said the following day, "Mummy, you pulled me by the hair last night. I didn't like that!") and puts her in the car as well before jumping in herself. So I peer ahead for the bear into the semi-darkness at the side of the camp when suddenly I realize that it is a LOT closer than expected! The bear jumps up with his front paws onto the bear locker no more than 5 feet in front of me! On top is our washing up bowl with soap in it, along with Jessica's night time pull-ups. I start shouting at the bear to (a) try to scare him off and (b) alert everyone else including the ranger I know is likely to be about. The bear is intent on something in the bowl, and eventually sinks his teeth into the pull-ups. Meanwhile people at the nearby sites are now shining flashlights and making noise, and after (what seemed like ages) about 30 seconds the bear finally heads off into the woods.

The ranger turns up about 3 minutes later and hears the story and, after hearing about the childrens behaviour, congratulates them.

The photo below shows how close Michael came to the bear. As he said when he explained, and when we realized what had happened, he basically walked into the bear. Yanira is standing where the bear was when Michael saw it! No wonder he shouted rather loudly!

The second photo shows the paw print of the bear behind our bear locker, next to my foot. It isn't very clear, but this was definitely an adult bear with no fear of humans.

What a holiday! Michael has told us that he would like to go back to Yosemite, but, for the moment, he has seen enough of bears!