I spent a few hours in Housekeeping Camp tonight, checking on food storage after 11 pm. I found a pretty average number of violations (which is more than we’d find in the campgrounds, but that’s another story). One of these violations was bad enough (ice chest full of food left out) that I called a protection ranger and got the owner cited. While he deserved the citation, I always (well, almost always) feel a little bad about it. But, after a decade of intensive educational efforts, you’d think more people would be more careful with their food. (Stat: most people who have a bear incident–a case in which a bear causes damage or obtains food–are repeat visitors to Yosemite.)

The entertaining part of the night happened when I woke up someone for an ice chest with some drinks in it. As is often the case, the person said that the ice chest was empty. This was obviously not true. It turn out he had an empty ice chest out, which he knew about, and a not-empty ice chest out that “wasn’t his.” (Whose was it and what was it doing in his unit?) He came out to take care of that and then I noticed a can of bear spray hanging from a post.

Many people don’t realize that bear (pepper) spray is included in the very broad definition of a weapon in national parks, and is therefore prohibited (except in those parks–mostly those with grizzlies–where an exception is made). So, as is usually the case when we see that, I just pointed out that pepper spray wasn’t legal and he should put it away. He denied that it was pepper spray and stated that it was a horn (which is quite similar in appearance). I double-checked that it was pepper spray, and, surprised, he put it away.

I’m really curious. Had there been a bear nearby and he tried to scare it away with his pepper spray/horn… what would have happened?

These are the things that keep our sometimes-bored minds entertained at night.