The Bears of Yosemite (1973)

The adventure begins and ends with bears, so I use that to get your attention. But the heart of the long journey, the 7 days of wilderness between the bear incidents, is what I remember with the deepest love.

1972 was my first backpacking trip

The next one that stands out was a year later. At that time, I was living with a girlfriend, Gretchen. We wanted to go to Yosemite, but we also wanted to avoid the crowds as much as possible. This took some clever planning. With the help of some trail maps, I found a fairly easy trail going to the most remote parts of the park. (I hope you like maps, because I’m going to reference these throughout the story).

We hitchhike up the Tioga Pass road to Tuolumne Meadows. Outside of Yosemite Valley itself, this is the biggest hub of activity in the park, so it’s not hard to access by thumb. Here is a great crossroads: the Tioga Pass road, the Tuolumne River trail, the John Muir trail, and the Pacific Crest trail all cross each other here. There’s a big public campground; when we arrive, there were maybe 60 or 100 tents. And of course, the place is very popular with bears, because everyone has food.


And of course, everyone knows to store their food where the bears can’t get it. Well, almost everyone, apparently, because during the night several tents get raided. We slept through it all, and saw nothing but the mess that the morning light revealed.

Okay, that was not exciting, was it. But read on; that’s only the prologue.

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