The next morning Dan and I went early to the Ranger station, to get on the list for a campsite for another night.  At 8 am they sold some sites they had, and we just missed those, but we were first on the 3pm waiting list.  After a big breakfast, it was time to rent some bikes.

Yosemite has great bike trails.  We rode to Muir Lake, which of course was dry this time of year, as were nearly all the waterfalls. But it was a nice ride, infused with a bit of danger as we were  riding through Mountain Lion country.  We didn’t see any, though it was a great incentive to any laggards.  While Dan went to get our campsite at 3pm, Tristan, Tessa and I went on the Bear Stroll.  It was an informative hike about bears, led by a Park Ranger.  We didn’t stroll very far, but the Ranger told us some really surprising information about bears.  For example, the bears in Yosemite were black bears, averaging about 300 pounds.  Their diet is 90 percent vegetables, like grass and berries and only 10 percent bugs and meat.  That really surprised me.  They don’t actually hibernate, but go into  a torpor, which is a state they can wake up and go back to sleep.  In this state, the females give birth to one or two 8 ounce babies.  Amazing.  Those were the good things we learned.  The bad things we learned were about the bears being hit by cars in the park and the bears coming into the campsites for food.  She showed us the hide of a bear who had been hit by a car.  We were able to touch its rough coat and long claws.  The Ranger told us that feeding the bears was the worse thing that could happen.  It made the bears determined to get “people” food.  The bears were so smart, they could smell food 3 miles away, and also could spot food in containers inside cars. The bears would stop at nothing to get at the food, shredding tents, breaking into cars, and opening containers.  She told us it was important to use the bear lockers at the campsite.  Once a bear had human food, they would always want it, and they would be at danger of being hit by a car, or the Rangers would have to remove them and put them higher up in the park.  If that didn’t work, the bear would have to be destroyed.  By the end of the presentation, we no longer wanted to see a bear.

That afternoon, the kids finished their  Jr Ranger program.  They had to attend one Ranger led discussion, answer questions in a booklet about Yosemite, and then answer questions asked by the Park Ranger.  They passed, and the Ranger swore them in, gave them badges, and announced to the group in the Visitor’s Center, Tristan and Tessa were new Jr Rangers.  After the ceremony, Dan and I agreed ice cream was in order.

After settling into our new campsite, this time at Lower Pines, we attended an evening Ranger Talk in our campgrounds.  It was about Bees and Wasps.  That doesn’t sound too exciting, but we learned about the Tarantula Hawk Wasp, 6 inches long and the most painful of all wasp stings.  Our Ranger said they were common in the park, and didn’t try to sting humans, instead trying to sting the Tarantula Spiders, which were also plentiful in the park this time of year.  By the time we left the meeting, our fear of Bears had been replaced by Tarantulas and giant wasps!

Later that night, we took our chairs to the “boardwalk”, a wooden walkway crossing the open meadow in the valley.  We sat there for a long time, watching the stars, the edges of the night  sky framed by tall pine trees and sheer rock faces.  We would be sad to leave the next day.