We loaded the pickup and camper with enough clothes and food to last us for a week and headed for Yosemite. We drove up to Tuolumne Meadows for the day. We thought of camping there but as I remember the camps were full. After playing along the river for a while we headed back down toward Yosemite Valley.
In those days you got your campsite by the “first come first served” method. We parked in a pull out along the side of the road. We were just about thirty minutes from the entrance to Yosemite and planned on waking early to be the first in line for the following day. We didn’t have an alarm clock. I told the kids to pray we’d wake up in time to get a good spot in line before we all went to sleep.
It was about four in the morning when we heard a noise just outside the window. When Larry and I looked out we could see a bear sitting next to our camper with our steel belted heavy duty Coleman cooler between his legs. With one mighty blow from his forearm the lid flew open.
We started banging on the window and making noise to scare the bear. The bear hardly even looked our direction. When Larry opened the back of the camper and started banging pots and pans to scare the bear it simply grabbed the cooler by the handle and started pulling it down the hill to get away from us. That silly bear didn’t even run, he just meandered away into the darkness. I can still see Heidi’s face watching her dad as he chased that old bear with a flashlight. Her eyes got bigger and bigger as he disappeared down the hill behind the bear.
A great feeling of relief swept over Heidi’s face when she could see her daddy reappearing. I actually felt my eyes widened when I saw he was carrying our ice chest.
We loaded up, adrenalin raging, and made our way to the valley floor where we waited in line to enter the park. We got a terrific spot to camp for the following week. Larry put the ice chest on the table. We started sorting through the food to see what we could still use. Larry had quickly scooped some of the items back into the chest before reclaiming it from the bear.
As we sorted the contents of the ice chest several other campers came to look at the dents and claw marks in our aluminum ice box. It was a heavy duty container. Even though the bear had managed to spill out several pounds of hamburger and bacon as well as lunch meats and some butter, we had enough to last us for the week. We did need to buy a few things at the little Yosemite grocery store but not much.
We had fun laying all the damaged things on the picnic table and watching the campers look through it. There was a pound box of butter torn in half. Two cubes were missing, one had been bitten in half and the last remained untouched. There was half a packet of steaks that had been chewed away and left behind. We had lost all but two eggs! One pack of hamburger had deep tooth marks all over it showing where the bear had tried to bite it. The lid and top inch of the gallon milk carton were gone. The meats were all frozen solid or I’m sure we would have lost it all!
We had wanted to wake up early and even mentioned to one another that neither of us had brought a watch. We laughed at how God had seemed to wake us with such an incredible event.