"Smarter than the average bear"
is what Yogi Bear used to say--and that's as good a description of the bears of the Sierra as any. Remember the antics Yogi used to get up to when trying to abscond with the pic-i-nic basket? It's nothing compared to what a real bear will do when trying to steal your food.
They have been known to rip open cars (car clouting); break into cars and tear apart back seats to gain access to food stored in the trunk; do a little B&E (breaking and entering) into vacation homes and cabins to get food stored there; intrude into campsites and snatch food right off the table; raid garage cans and dumpsters (some have gotten trapped inside and ended up compacted by the trash truck machinery). They can be very athletic in their efforts to get food. Everyone knows bears will climb trees to get to food that's been hung. But at least one bear was notorious for swimming out to rafts and boats to steal food. Others have been known to go after food that rock climbers had suspended over the side of a cliff--in some cases the bears pulled it up--in other cases they came from underneath the food and pulled it down!
Never underestimate a hungry bear! Part of never underestimating a determined bear is learning proper food storage techniques to use when you are in the wilderness. Check out the link below for some general advice. Check with the rangers at Mineral King for more specific information on the bears and bear activity in Mineral King. Mineral King has a food storage building across from the Ranger Station. Use it! Don't store your food in the car.
- Mountain Climbing
Keep your distance from Bambi
There are a multitude of deer in Mineral King. Most of them will let you approach fairly close before they (hopefully) run off. However, believe it or not, deer can be dangerous. There are several ways in which they can be dangerous to humans.
In rutting season (autumn) when they are breeding, male deer can be quite aggressive and unpredictable. They have been known to attack people when they are in rut. I encountered one aggressive male in rut one autumn in Groundhog Meadow (located on the Sawtooth Pass trail). He did some snorting and pawing the ground, but eventually decided against attacking (I made myself look as big and threatening as possible).
Another way in which deer can be a threat to humans if they get too close is through spreading disease. Lyme disease and TB are only two of the serious disease you could acquire through close contact with them.
Of course, don't forget the primary way deer hurt and kill people--through car collisions.... Running into a deer on the Mineral King road could easily be fatal to you both.
- Hiking and Walking
Probably the worst part of an early-summer Mineral King experience is the prescense of marmots (also known as woodchucks). When marmots in the Mineral King Valley wake from their winter hibernation, they often lack salt, which they can't get until late summer. So, they've found a new early season source- cars. A lot of marmots will go beneath your cars and suck on your radiator hoses for salt. It sounds bizarre, but it's true. A lot of cars in Mineral King ended up getting towed back to Three Rivers. To prevent marmots, your best bet is a chicken wire; if you're staying at Silver City resort, you can rent one from Connie. Learn how to use it. Also, give other people a hand and shoo marmots away from their vehicles if they're attacked.