On our trip to Yosemite several years ago, we spent one night in a tent cabin at Tuolumne Meadows. This was long before the recent scare related to the Hantavirus infection in Curry Village. Plus, Tuolumne Meadows is a long way from Curry Village.
There are many differences between Curry Village and Tuolumne Meadows. Curry Village is located in Yosemite Valley, where the temperature is far warmer. It’s also the most popular part of the park, so Curry Village is larger and has more people in it. This results in a lot more noise and a lot more bears.
It’s really hard to get that many people to comply with rules about keeping anything scented in a bear locker. Even well-intentioned people overlook things like lost M&Ms in their cars or in pockets. Cars parked at Curry Village are often in danger of bear raids.
By comparison, Tuolumne Meadows is cold. It’s at a much higher altitude in a remote location above the valley, resulting in much cooler temperatures.
We were there in July–and it was even a warm July. We slept in sleeping bags rated to -10 degrees. We wore fleece, warm hats, and zipped our mummy-style bags securely around our heads to stay warm. Thankfully, the bags were warm enough even after the fire in our tiny, inefficient wood-burning stove went out. There is nothing about a tent cabin that is energy efficient, unlike our 2-person tent that can often get quite warm with our bodies in it.
But the advantage of the cold temperatures and more remote location is that it’s a smaller village with fewer, quieter people who tend to be more serious about hiking and more conscientious about storing their stuff properly. There are far fewer bear encounters in Tuolumne Meadows as a result.
Another advantage was that, because of the remote location and smaller number of people, they served a really awesome hot breakfast right in the village.
The biggest challenge we faced was identifying our bear locker in the long row of lockers. People used unique rock arrangements on the lockers to mark theirs. We made the mistake of remembering the rock arrangement on the locker next to ours, which had changed by morning.
Anything with a scent must go in a bear locker. This includes toothpaste, hair gel (if you happen to have brought hair gel), deodorant. If it could possibly smell like food to a bear, into the locker it goes.
The black canisters are a portable equivalent of a bear locker–all things with scent go in one on the trail. The Yosemite bears are so familiar with bear canisters they don’t even try to break into them if they see one that’s been properly closed. We left extra stuff that didn’t go on the trail with us in a bear locker at the trailhead.
There was often evidence a bear had checked out our campsites, but they’d always left quietly without disturbing anything.
- 1 Man Dead From Rodent Disease at Yosemite (abcnews.go.com)
- Hantavirus in Yosemite: Ninth case reported in another visitor (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Long Wait and Worry for Visitors to Yosemite (nytimes.com)
- Yosemite shuts cabins at center of rodent probe (fresnobee.com)