I love sleeping on the ground, listening to the night noises, and imagining the stars overhead even when they are obscured by tree canopies, clouds, or my own myopia. My sleeping bag feels softer and warmer than any down comforter, and my make-shift pillow, made of clothes stuffed into a bag, gives me immense satisfaction. Whenever I sleep in motels or hotels, I dislike how closed and airless the room is and the negative energy from all the electrical appliances that cannot be turned off. I long for the open air, for the feeling of the ground under me, for the sound of the wind in the trees overhead.
On Monday, we arrived at Mono Resort near Twin Lakes at 9pm, and I was appalled at the number of RVs parked side by side in long neat rows that filled up the campground. We drove after Cliff’s car, searching for a campsite as far away from these large metal monsters as we could, surprised to see some that featured fences, directv antennas and potted plants. Cliff pulled into an open campsite with two picnic tables, and we set up our tent on a flat stretch of dirt. When we turned around to look for bear lockers in which to protect our food, we were in for a surprise. There were none.
Within the borders of Yosemite, visitors are warned to be ultra-careful with their food, to pack it inside bear canisters (the approved method for carrying food in the wilderness) or bear-proof lockers, and to leave none in their cars. But perhaps at Mono Resort, though just a few miles outside the borders of Yosemite, the bears did not present a problem. As we put as much food as we could inside our bear canisters and placed them as far away from ourselves as we could, I wondered, what are a few miles for a bear? Do bears care for park boundaries, or do Yosemite-Valley bears ever hop over to Mono Resort to get a midnight snack from these unprotected stacks of food before returning to the valley?
Cliff slept near the picnic table — his tactic for protecting against bears. He told us he had an entirely different strategy for mountain lions. He kept Dar’s bear spray nearby and said he would bang on a pot if bears came by. The night passed without incident, but in the morning we heard about two climbers whose climb of The Incredible Hulk, was cut short because bears broke into their food. They had no bear canisters.
|Twin Lakes from the trail|
At 10am, the bear canisters at the bottom of our packs, we started plodding uphill, toward the Matterhorn. Twin Lakes stretched below us, boats dotting the emerald water, sunlight blinking on the gentle waves. The bear spray lay forgotten in the car. Bears were the least of my worries. My back ached under the heavy pack, and all I could think of was what the next three days will bring and whether I would make it back all right.
To be continued….