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Maybe it's just me, but between all the bear attacks and the record high number of deaths at Yosemite National Park, I'm starting to feel like nature is turning on us. Seventeen-year-old hiker Kao Kue became Yosemite's 15th fatality this year when he died Wednesday night from head injuries after falling and slipping on Mist Trail. So he was just walking along one of the park's most popular hiking trails?!
Some of the other Yosemite deaths this year, while still tragic, were at least easier to explain. The three hikers swept to their death over Vernal Falls on July 19, for example, had crossed a guard railing to take pictures. As park officials have pointed out, Yosemite does have hazards; it's the responsibility of visitors to follow safety guidelines (there's certainly no lack of signs posted around the park).
But the park isn't as safe as it used to be, either. Shifting environmental factors are contributing to the deadly atmosphere as well ...
Apparently, Yosemite's waterways are flowing at a higher rate than they normally would be thanks to this winter's record snowfall. And granite rocks are extremely slippery when wet, much more so than most people realize.
So it would seem the problem is that because the park is more dangerous right now, visitors need to be, correspondingly, more cautious ... except they're not. Being more cautious, that is. Why? Are they unaware of the treacherous conditions, or are they just choosing to ignore warnings?
Perhaps a lack of appropriate caution, combined with a rise in park visitors, is to blame for the spike in bear attacks, too. More people venturing out into the wilderness without knowing the proper protocol to follow in case of a bear sighting = more people getting mauled and killed by bears.
As I said before, these accidental deaths were tragic and I don't mean in any way to imply that because these hikers were, possibly, careless that they simply got what was coming to them.
But hopefully, going forward, what happened to these people will inspire others to be more careful.
Do you think Yosemite is getting more dangerous?
Image via Rennett Stowe/Flickr