Tag Archives: Yosemite
Smarter Than the Average Bear
When we were in Yosemite, Anne and I took a class sponsored by the Ansel Adams gallery. Christine, our instructor squired us around for an afternoon, drilling us on photographic technique and positioning us to reproduce some of Ansel Adams iconic photos. As it turns out this was only her day job. At night, she also worked for the Bear Patrol.
While we were traipsing across the valley floor, she once stopped and warned some other staff members with dogs that a mountain lion had been seen just the night before, right outside their fenced-in backyard. Their six-foot high wooden palisade fence would do nothing to deter a lion from snatching their dog, if it was out at night. She told us later about another family’s misfortune. It occurred when their small dog forded a creek ahead of them and then was set upon by coyotes. It was killed right in front of them and it happened before they could react. It was an awful thing to witness and totally ruined their vacation. I was glad that we were sleeping on the second floor of a motel that night.
What did the female deer say when she walked out of the woods? I’ll never do that again for two bucks.
Her most interesting story was about this young female black bear. The bears in Yosemite that have names, all have rather un-prosaic names, like “Orange-15”, which is also the name of their radio collar. If you are a bear in Yosemite, you don’t want a name and you certainly don’t want the radio collar either. A bear gets both, when their behavior raises their profile enough that the Bear Patrol intervenes. Thousands of people visit Yosemite every year and most of these people bring food with them. A small percentage of these visitors are careless enough with their food that a bear can get a hold of it. Jelly sandwiches are much more enticing than nuts and berries you see, ask Yogi. If these human-bear interactions occur often enough then the bear gets radio tagged. If things get totally out of hand then the bear might have to be put down.
On the valley floor all of the trash cans have special bear lids and there are also bear boxes for food storage. The bear patrol also spends most nights tracking habitual offenders and running them off. In the back-country though, hikers are pretty much on their own. They do have one deterrent though, the backpacker’s bear canister. These cylindrically shaped reinforced plastic canisters for storing food in are supposed to be bear proof. They even require one to twist a coin in a slot to open them. That young female black bear that I mentioned before has devised a means to break into them though. On the bluffs of the Snow Creek trail, overlooking Mirror Lake, at the eastern end of the valley, she simply rolls them off the cliff. They fall 300’ and are dashed to pieces on the rocks below. She then climbs back down to collect her booty. This has been going on for at least a couple of years and has resulted in the park service closing that trail. So far, she is the only bear that has demonstrated this technique. The park service is afraid that other bears might learn of it from her.
Sentinel Rock, Yosemite
Among the Towering Pines
I can’t bring myself to discuss the elephant in the room tonight, so I’ll just change the subject. On Monday night, Election Day eve, sort of speak, Joanie and I went to see the new science fiction movie “Arrival”. Anne was too caught up in her Election Judge responsibilities to accompany us. This was another one of those sneak peek opportunities from Science on Tap, like “The Space Between Us”, which we had seen the week before. Unlike that movie, “Arrival” was really good and I highly recommend it. It is currently batting 98% on the old Tomato-meter. The movie stars Amy Adams, who is terrific, as Dr. Louise Banks, a world-renowned linguist and costars Jeremy Renner as her partner, physicist Ian Donnelly and Forest Whitaker as head honcho Colonel Weber. Adams look like a likely Oscar nominee for best actress for her subtle, understated performance.
Twelve UFOs appear around the world and Louise and Ian are tasked to make contact with the one hovering over Montana. Stylishly attired in orange hazmat suits the pair enter the UFO via a scissors-lift, where they meet the octopus like aliens. Deciding that talking to them would be too difficult, whiteboard in hand, Louise resorts to the written word. The aliens respond with their own inkjet squirted script, which resembles a cross between beer glass water rings and a Rorschach test. The dynamic duo is then off to the races. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is going crazy. Around the world, we are left with a horserace. Will Louise and Ian figure out why the aliens came to Earth, before Earth declares war on them? The movie is way more cerebral than my little tongue-in-cheek synopsis does it justice. “Arrival” is the kind of meaty science fiction that really makes you think and still think well of your race.