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Yosemite National Park Backcountry Information


Backcountry ski and snowboard gear, camping

Echo Peaks & Mount Conness

Yosemite NP, California (August 2004)

(click on any photo for a full-sized version)


Slogging up Wilts Col with Cathedral Peak behind (Yosemite National Park, CA)

Nothing Ever Goes As Planned

As usual, we had big plans for the weekend.  Head up to Tuolumne and bag a few of the Echo Peaks on Saturday; then climb the classic West Ridge of Mount Conness on Sunday.  But things went a little haywire when some crazy friggin deer ran out of the meadows at full speed and nearly killed us.  I guess it proves the old maxim:  the crux of any backcountry trip is always the drive.


The Deer Incident

Anyone who regularly visits the Yosemite high country knows the spot.  Driving east on the Tioga Road beyond Tenaya Lake, you pass through steep forested hillsides, catching only the occasional teasing glimpse of the towering granite domes hidden above.  But at the narrow gap between Fairview and Pothole Domes, the road emerges from its narrow chasm; the steep hillsides fall away and the unrivalled beauty of Tuolumne Meadows spreads out before you.  Most people, when reaching this spot after 4-5 hours of driving, are filled with elation -- the day is beautiful, the trailhead is near, the drive is finally over.  That is exactly how we felt for the ten seconds until the deer ran into our car.

Yes, the deer ran into our car.  I'd like to say we hit the deer instead of vice versa, because at least then it would remove some of the randomness from the event and make it possible to think that I could have avoided it by employing more skillful technique behind the wheel.  But this deer was on its own agenda, and it was apparently late for an appointment with my driver's side window.  It happened too fast for any reaction:  The early morning sun on the meadows, a brown blur out of the corner of my left eye and suddenly I'm face to face with odocoileus hemionus.  A quick glance in the rear view mirror revealed that the deer had the wherewithal to pick itself up off the pavement before the next car administered the coup de grace.  It scampered off into the trees, never to be seen again.  Fortunately, nobody was injured (save, one may assume, the deer), and the damage to the car did not render it undrivable (see photo).  Since there was little we could do about the situation except complain, we packed up our climbing gear and hit the trail.

Photos and Trip Report Continued

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