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  • Mariposa Grove in Yosemite was the site of a Youth Conservation Corp (YCC) we hosted in the mid- 70's. We being Thorne Ecological out of Boulder CO we contacted with the NPS and other federal land management agencies to run a couple of dozen camps all over the western USA. Program was big in the 70's ... then Nixon cut the funds most camps ended .. a few places continued more local and/or state ran these days.

    Mariposa Grove was so special then; a old 1920's lodge housed our group of over 60 (it is gone now). In 1975 I was at the Yosemite camp for opening week. The Sequoia trees and Sugar Pine were all around the lodge. The day the kid were dropped off by parents - all the crew and I had on hard hats - partly to look good with YCC logo on the hats; also so the football sized Sugar Pine cones would not hit us on the head!

    Bears, big cats and snakes are always to be carful for in wild places. But one of the most dangerous critters I saw was a Porcupine in the CO Rocky Mt National Park! On a walk alone one day, I came a across a Porcupine that was not in a good mood - her back of quills all up and moving slowly towards me. I did not stay to learn more!

    I heard a story from two youth enrollees in our camp at Glacier NP in grizzler county! They had been left to count hikers going into a wilderness areas at a trailhead below a very big ridge. One was asleep in a bag the others noticed something running down the Mt. ridge very fast - watching until he was able see that it was a big grizzly (they have poor eyes) running towards their smell to see what they were!

    The kid that was awake got a spoon and a metal cup and his bell and started banging and yelling and ringing. That bear got within 20 ft before he/she stopped, looks then turned and left after learning they were way to noisy for the bears taste. The sleeper woke to see all this happen - but went into shock. They radioed for help and ranger got to them in a few hours - the sleeper, who was covered in red heaves all over, never was able to recall any of the drama with bear vs. bells and banging.

    I still work with rangers and parks in the state of WA. I also still love being alone outdoors; it is wonderful and always full of some risks. But then life is a risky thing to be a part of - but as witnessed here on Cowbird - life is good (even with the risks).
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