Wawona Evening Bear Visits

Story by Norm Serra (Cabin 11)

from the series Recollections Of Life And Events in Wawona

We first came in 1961 and stayed at Mr. Kessler’s (Yosemite Pines) big cabin on Chilnualna Falls Road, now cabin #80, owned by Dick and Carol Chatterton. We stayed in that house again in 1967, the year we bought our cabin. We have accumulated countless wonderful Wawona memories over the past 40 years.

One of the things I miss most from the old days is our nightly visits by the bears. They used to come singly or in pairs, or a mother and her cubs, or sometimes in groups. One evening we counted eleven bears, seven of whom visited our cabin and four others roaming through The Redwoods. We could hear them coming from far off as they knocked over the metal trash barrels one by one, cabin by cabin, getting closer and closer so that when they arrived we were ready with our cameras. They would dissect our trash, select the goodies, leave it scattered and be on their way. We were glad to clean up after them because we felt they were friends, a special
part of the Wawona experience. They were beautiful animals. To us it was an important part of every evening’s activity.

Then the rangers decided that bears should not be eating human leftovers. They prohibited our open trash barrels and installed the bear proof containers around the area. Perhaps they were right, maybe it’s for the best,
but the short term results were sad. They stopped coming. We truly missed them as well as our daily visits with Mike, the trash man. We heard several times that hungry bears had broken into cabins to steal food and the
repeat offenders had to be destroyed. I don’t know how many were killed over the next few years. I can’t help but feel that those beautiful animals would have preferred to be alive, scrounging in an undignified way for our
leavings, but welcomed by all of us. As far as I know they harmed no one except for a few unthinking tourists who tried to get too cozy with them.

Wawona has changed some but it is still wonderful. I decided to come up for a quick trip a month ago to check out carpeting we had installed. By the time I made my plans there were 13 additional members of the family,
kids, grand kids and in-laws, who decided to join the party, driving up from L.A. on Friday and home on Sunday. That’s just one example of how much they all love the place. They never stop expressing their gratitude, nor do I.

Story by Norm Serra

Edited by Debbi Shelander