Vernal Fall / Photo: glennwilliamspdx

More US National Park fatalities demonstrate how wild the wilderness is, even in the summer.

ON MY VISITS TO Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks this summer, park rangers laughed when my friend and I requested permits for multi-day backcountry passes, especially without having snow-proof gear.

“But it’s late June!” we argued, before they handed us passes to more crowded but safer sites from which we could take long day hikes instead.

According to the rangers, the late winter had led to a late spring, and an even later snowmelt that bled into the National Parks’ peak summer season. The result were higher volumes of water rushing through the rivers and waterfalls at the Parks, a migration of normally anti-social animals closer to trails to forage for food and an increased danger to humans due to both.

On the heels of the fatal grizzly bear attack on a hiker in Montana’s Yellowstone National Park two weeks ago comes the drowning of three hikers in Yosemite National Park this past Tuesday.

According to the L.A. Times, Hormiz David, 22, Ninos Yacoub, 27, and Ramina Badal, 21, hikers part of a California-based church group, crossed the warning signs and guardrail that separated them from the the 317-foot high Vernal Fall along Yosemite’s Mist Trail. The three were then swept over the waterfall, and, now presumed dead by authorities, are still being searched for by foot patrol due to water heights.

While the bear attack occurred without provocation by the victim, incidents like the past few weeks’ should be warnings to visitors that the National Parks, with their curated trails and splendid vistas, are still part of the wilderness and demand a greater respect this summer for that reason.

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