A Tenderfoot’s Adventure in Yosemite

3 min readMay 31, 2024


The cub was as afraid of me as I was of him… and his mother…

Many years ago, I was living in southern California, I had just purchased a new backpack and other camping supplies, so I decided to take a hike through Yosemite National Park to tryout all my new gear.

I started my adventure in the Yosemite Valley. I hiked up past Nevada Falls and set up camp for the night. Being a complete novice, I did not know that I needed to put my food in bear proof containers and hang it from a hard-to-reach tree limb, so all my food was stowed in my backpack, leaning against a tree near where I set up my sleeping bag.

Late that night, I was awakened by some nearby sounds that were coming from the area of my backpack. I flipped over inside my sleeping bag so I could see the source of these sounds and immediately had a face-to-face confrontation with a bear cub, literally inches away. My sudden movement scared the cub, which immediately leaped directly onto the trunk of a nearby tree. It sort-of shimmied around the tree trunk to the far side, climbed down and scurried off with its sibling. I never saw an adult bear in that encounter, but I have no doubt that momma was nearby.

In the morning, I surveyed the remnants of my pack and supplies. Some hikers gave me a handful of safety pins that I used to cobble my pack back together.

After repairing my backpack, I hung it from a tree branch fifteen feet or so off the ground, hoping that would keep it out of reach from any bears… although there wasn’t much left in it that would be of interest to a bear. Then I took off for a day-hike, taking the easy way up to the top of Half Dome. As I was coming down off of Half Dome, I noticed some smoke coming from a wooded area about half way between Half Dome and Clouds Rest. When I got down the trail to roughly the same elevation as the smoke appeared to be, I decided to go cross-country over in the direction of the smoke. Up to this point I was thinking this is really an unusual place for a campsite. But when I got to the source of the smoke, I could see it was actually a small wildfire. I have no idea how it gat started. There were only two or three significant trees engulfed by this small fire, and it was mostly burning just dry pine needles and other small dry branches on the ground. I immediately started trying to stamp out the fire. After doing this for a few minutes, it was clear to me that I was not going to be able to put this fire out by myself. I headed back to the trail, and then ran back down the trail to a spot near Nevada Falls where I had seen a trail phone. I pick up the handset, and in short order someone answered. I reported the fire and its location, and then trudged back to my campsite.

All of that activity put some nasty blisters on my feet because my boots were brand new at the start of this adventure. I gave real meaning to the term “tenderfoot” … I certainly was that, in more ways than one.

The next morning, having bandaged up my blistered and bleeding feet as best I could, I started trudging up the trail toward Tuolumne Meadows. At Tuolumne I hitchhiked my way back to the valley, found my to my parked VW Bus, and started my drive home via Tioga Pass.

Near Le Vining, where Highway 120 meets Highway 395, I came across a stand selling fruits and vegetables where I purchase three exquisite avocados. Being very tired and unprepared for the long drive back to Barstow, I decided to look for a place to park for the night to sleep in my bus. On my road map, I noticed a road that goes up into the White Mountains on the eastern side of the Owens Valley. I drove up this road until I was stopped by a locked gate at an elevation of 11,680 feet. I parked there and had avocado for dinner. The next morning, I drove back to Barstow.




On the internet they can’t tell that you’re actually a dog…