"Our bears probably won't kill you", a Yosemite ranger assured us, "They'll claw their way into your car or cabin for cookies but black bears rarely attack people."
I was relieved.
Three years ago we arrived at Yellowstone National Park and learned that one of their grizzly bear had just killed a tourist. A ranger told us then, "It's normal behavior. Grizzly bears kill other animals".
Luken Lake, Yosemite National Park
But Yosemite was safer. Their bears ate blackberries, Oreos...and toothpaste. We learned that you had to keep everything that smells -even your Pepsodent- in a thick steel "bear box" outside.
We rented a tent and it seemed every time you needed something you had to go outside and go through a long, noisy process to get into your container that kept your stuff safe. Since I don't smell like roses myself, I wanted to sleep in the bear box as well. Unfortunately, it was too small.
I sucked up my courage and started hiking hither and yon with my adventurous wife, Francesca.
Yosemite is a big place. Watch her get smaller
And smaller still She really is down there, really small.
There's a whole community, "Yosemite Village", hidden in these trees covering the valley floor.
The park's largest trees are clustered in three small groves outside the valley. They're the remains of what was once a land of giants.
big enough to give shelter in the rain
A hundred years ago it was cool to carve holes in the giant sequoias large enough to drive cars through.
How times have changed.
Now Californians carve holes in cars to let trees through.
I didn't need a whole tree,
just a few branches to build a fire.
I thought it might come in handy to keep the bears away.
On our three-day visit we never saw one. We did see fresh bear poop on a hiking trail and one night we heard two-hundred campers screaming and slamming pans together at 5 am. It's what they tell you to do if a big, hairy creature wanders into your campground.
The sound scared me. It was enough to make me want to crawl into the bear box.
But it was too small.