Besides visiting the park with my family a couple times when I was a child and then doing some climbing there in the late 1960s when I was a student at Pomona College in southern California, my major experiences in Yosemite were the result of being a seasonal park ranger each summer from 1970 through 1974. Graduate school forced a halt to those summer activities. I was given the clear message that a graduate student in Botany at UC Berkeley was expected to devote full time effort to research and teaching....so I did. Although I visited again a few times after that, I certainly made no extended stays in either the valley or the high country after that. Yet those summers were among the most instructive for me. I was hired because I was competent as a rock climber and had opportunities to participate in many search and rescue (S&R) operations. The rescues were actually far less frequent than recoveries, since hikers getting into trouble in and around the valley most often died in the process. During my first summer, almost every weekend someone would go over a waterfall, most commonly Vernal , Nevada , and Yosemite Falls. Nobody survives going over one of those falls. In between S&R operations I was assigned to various general park ranger duties, especially entrance station (El Portal), campground registration, campground patrol and general road patrol. I packed heat some of the time; a Smith and Wesson .38 police special revolver, mace, handcuffs, an anodized aluminum flashlight that doubled as a night stick, and disposable plastic handcuffs in my "Smokey the bear" ranger hat. Given our law enforcement focus, we came to call ourselves the Pine Pigs or Smokey the Pig. I was there for the First Annual Rock and Bottle Festival, July 4th 1970, when the "hippies" routed the rangers from Stoneman Meadow. But that's a story in itself that I may put on here someday.
Here are some photo galleries of my hikes, climbs, and S&R operations, mostly in the valley:
Copyright © 2004 Raymond B. Phillips