Friday, November 14, 2008

Death in Yosemite

According to John Dill, the head of Yosemite National Park Search and Rescue (YOSAR), over 100 climbing accidents occur yearly with 2.5% of the accidents resulting in death. The granite walls, the Sierra storms, and loose rock kill unprepared climbers. Far more dangerous are visitor interactions with local wildlife. Three hundred fifty pound black bears reside in the park as well as 7 foot long mountain lions. The majority of accidents occur in the park due to the mule deer and not the rocks or bears or lions.

The largest of the Odocoileus genus, the mule deer, measures 40-42 inches at the shoulder, reaches 80 inches from nose to tail, and weighs from 100 pounds for females to 300 pounds for males. Most casualities involving the deer come from visitors attempting to feed the wild animals. While the deer are normally passive, they can become aggressive, rearing on their hind quarters and stomping down onto the ground. Fifteen years ago, a young couple from New Jersey took their toddler for a stroll through the Awahnee Meadow. A group of mule deer grazed the tall grass there and the couple stopped with their toddler to take a few pictures. Noticing the calm nature of the deer, the wife approached a small buck and placed her child on to the deer. The couple took a few pictures but the deer became aggravated quickly bucking off the child and stamping the toddler. The buck put its hoof through the child’s cranium. Park accidents like these are easier to avoid than storms, rock slides, and mountain lions. Be mindful of the animals in the park. Luckily, this story had a silver lining. The New Jersey couple sold the photos, covered the costs of the funeral, and broke even in the end.

Tim thought this story was fantastic. He came up with the last bit and nearly busted a gut when he told me about it. I laughed too. Maybe it was the dope but the story seemed pretty humorous so I told the story to a few people in the camp four parking lot. The joke bombed hard. I will have to remember not to listen to Tim’s jokes so much or just make sure everyone is stoned when they hear it.

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