'Bermuda Triangle' Yosemite: the park has a place where terrible things happen
Strange and frightening things happen in Tenaya Canyon in Yosemite National Park. Therefore, this area is called the "Bermuda Triangle" of Yosemite. According to rumors, a curse will fall on the head of those who dare to go there, according to SFGate.
While camping on a cliffside hundreds of meters high in Yosemite National Park's Tenaya Canyon, legendary climber Ron Kauk felt a mysterious force pull on his sleeping bag.
“It's hard to explain,” he said. “It was like someone was teasing me—or something like that. It wasn't anything too dramatic, there weren't any lights flashing or flying around you, it's just that I admit there was something else."
“When we were there, there was something around us,” he added. “There are crazy things going on that you can’t explain.”
Kauk, world famous for his climbing exploits, knows Yosemite very well. The Redwood City native moved to the iconic park when he was just 17 years old, lived at the legendary Camp 4 for decades and climbed some of Yosemite's toughest walls alongside climbing pioneers.
“Perhaps in some weird way, Tenai Canyon is sort of a repository of the original spirit of Yosemite,” Kauk said. - I don't know".
What kind of place is it
Slips, trips, falls, odd events, landslides, rescue helicopters and deaths are common in the so-called "Bermuda Yosemite Triangle," a challenging, trailless section of the park stretching from Tenaya Lake to Yosemite Valley. Those brave enough to cross the 16km Tenai Canyon face smooth granite slabs, risky descents, mandatory swims and precarious ledges.
Many have tried, many have succeeded, and many have suffered. Even John Muir, the "father of national parks," passed out when he fell here.
The site is so accident-prone that park officials warn that “traveling through the unforgiving terrain of Tenai Canyon… should not be taken lightly.” There is also an ominous sign that greets visitors at the entrance to the canyon: "JOURNEY OUTSIDE THIS POINT IS DANGEROUS."
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“There are many places where you can slip and fall. Then you're really in trouble,” said Christopher Brennen, who climbed Tenai Canyon in 2000. Brennen, who is now 81 years old. He warns that the route includes "many boulder and waterfall climbs" with "very bare rocky slopes where you have to be careful not to slip." In all, it took his crew 10 hours to complete the journey.
“It's always interesting what's around the next corner,” he added. "That's what makes it exciting."
A disturbing and complex story
It was the site of at least one bloody conflict during the Mariposa Indian War, which took place in what is now Yosemite National Park and the surrounding Sierra Nevada from 1850 to 1851. The war followed the arrival of white European settlers a few years earlier and decimated the indigenous population living in the Yosemite Foothills and Yosemite Valley.
In the late 1840s, in the foothills of the southern Sierra, that number was 7000.
At the center of the conflict was Tenaya, the last known leader of the Akhwanichi Valley indigenous people and the namesake of the canyon.
“He fought to keep his people in Yosemite Valley when the Mariposa Battalion tried to forcibly evict them during the California Gold Rush,” said Miranda Fengel, writer and former curator of the Mariposa Museum and Historic Center. "He has living descendants, many of whom are members of the seven associated tribes of Yosemite, including the Southern Sierra Miwuk."
Mentioned by description only as a "Yosemite chief" in correspondence written in the early 1850s, Tenai's name first officially appeared in a controversial article titled "How Yosemite Valley Was Discovered and Named" by Lafayette Bunnell for Hutchings' California Journal in May 1859. . In it, Bunnell (a member of the Mariposa Battalion that forcibly evicted the natives from Yosemite) claims the true story of Tenaya. The leader, reacting to the execution of his son, said: "Kill me if you wish: but if you do this, my voice will sound at night, calling on the people to avenge me, louder than you ever made it sound."
In a much more detailed version of the story published in 1892, Bunnell elaborated on Tenai's speech that day: "You may kill me, sir, but you will not live in peace." I will follow in your footsteps, I will not leave my home, I will be with the spirits among the rocks, waterfalls, rivers and winds. Wherever you go, I will be with you. You will not see me, but you will fear the spirit of the old leader and die. The great spirits have spoken! I finished".
Thus was born the legend of the Yosemite Curse.
To date, Bunnell's stories are the only notable retellings of what Tenaya said - a problematic storyline for many researchers and historians, such as writer Tyler Greene. While he has no doubt that Tenaya gave some version of what is being attributed to him, Green takes Bunnell's stories with a grain of salt.
“We should at least consider that everything Bunnell tells us about Tenaya should be subjected to more scrutiny and challenge,” he said. Greene's forthcoming book, Claiming Yosemite: The Civil War, the California Genocide, and the Invention of National Parks, will explore the park's layered history in great detail.
“Historians for 150 years have considered the accounts presented by Bunnell as coming straight from Tenai,” Greene said.
Unfortunately, reports leave questions unanswered.
Is the curse real
"Whether there is a curse in particular, I don't know," Greene said.
For her part, Fengel agreed that the chief "probably said what Bunnell quoted" in his various stories, but she believes that Tenai's so-called "curse" has more to do with Tenai Canyon. “I think what he said was about the Yosemite area, his home that he was protecting,” she added.
Others, such as Vice Chairman of the Miwuk Nation of the Southern Sierra Waylon Coates, have learned the stories of Tenaya through generations of family stories and understand Yosemite's curse from a completely different perspective. Coates' grandmother is one of the country's oldest residents and one of the last natives to be born and raised in Yosemite, in the village of Wahhoga. Tenaya is Coates' great-great-great-grandfather.
“The curse is common knowledge,” he said. We say this every time there is a big rock fall in the park or people die. We always say a prayer and lay down blessings. This is the curse of Tenai. Everything lives in Yosemite. This is the spirit of our faith. He remembers everything these people have done to our people. When people up there don't respect rocks and plants, bad things happen."
The riddle of energy and people
Yosemite is America's second deadliest national park, second only to the Grand Canyon.
Coates said the fierce fighting in the valley, Tenai Canyon, and Tuolumn Meadows set the stage for the curse of Tenai and the danger that lurks in the park today.
“That's where a lot of spirits are,” he said. “They all died fighting right here.”
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Tenai's stories, regardless of source, serve as a reminder of how we should treat each other and nature, Coates added.
“Personally, I come from there and these are my people. This is their spirit and their ancestors,” he said. “Whether you are Indigenous or non-Indigenous, you must show respect. They're watching to see if you're humble. Someone or something is always watching you." Coates and others continue to fight for the official recognition of the tribe by the federal government - a battle that has been going on for several decades.
“It's cool because it's kind of a mystery of the energy and the people that were here,” he said. “It makes you stop and think about it.”
“Yosemite National Park officials acknowledge the stories and legends surrounding Tenai Canyon. However, the park does not have an official position on them,” Yosemite spokesman Scott Gediman said.
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