Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yosemite in the Rain


Evaporating rain condenses into clouds as wind currents pass the two thousand foot face of Yosemite's El Capitan. It takes most climbers about 3-4 days to climb Yosemite's El Capitan in good weather. On this rainy weekend, many spent a couple of extra rainy days and cold nights on their small cot-like shelters suspended on the sheer face. In a particularly bad storm, the summit attempt can take climbers the rest of their lives. The descent involves a short hike to a 600 foot rappel.

I enter Yosemite Valley through the smoke of a control burn, and arrive at the Upper Pines campground at 2am, and hit my brakes to avoid hitting a large black bear crossing the road towards another campground. The bears in Yosemite have learned that people mean food, and that people are careless and leave their food out on tables, in campfire pits, and store it in vehicles. Bears roam the campgrounds at night, and rangers patrol the campgrounds all night as well, shining spotlights around the tents and tables to find the bears and to see if anyone has left food out. Signs announce how many cars have been broken into, and that season's running total of damage to them. The score for this season so far involves over 1300 incidents, several hundred vehicles damaged, and over $75,000 in estimated costs. In other words, there are several problems between people and bears every day.

Fortunately the light rains over the past couple of days have stopped for the moment, and I have the tent set up and the kids into it by 3am.