In the approach to hibernation, bears enter a phase called hyperphagia, when they begin eating the massive amount of calories that they’ll feed on for the winter. This drives bears across mountains down into lower elevations as fruits and nuts ripen. In Yosemite this means bears coming into the valley to feast on acorns.
Near the base of Yosemite Falls in the early morning there was a ranger with a paintball gun who informed us that there were a couple bears up in the oak trees and she was just there keeping bears and people apart while they were there. It was a very tough job because as people were walking and realized there was a bear in the tree they would immediately stop directly under the tree to look for the bear and she would have to remind them that standing directly under a bear that could come crashing out of the tree at any moment was a dumb thing to do (but in a professional ranger way). One of the bears was napping but the other was actively chomping on acorns and shaking the whole tree. He did eventually come down and head into the meadow which made her job of keeping people and bear separate even more challenging. I’m not sure which the paintball gun was for but I would understand either.
The bear pictures below were all the same day but I think a total of 4 different bears in the valley. The next day we also saw a mother bear with 3 cubs (fortunately from the car) heading out of the valley. If the ranger hadn’t been there I really don’t think we would have spotted the bears napping in the trees, which of course made me wonder how many bears I’ve strolled past in the past without even realizing they were there. Like sharks. Cute sharks. We also got to hear some great stories about people doing dumb things like trying to pet deer, or my favorite story about the guy who was visiting the park with a lady friend that was not his girlfriend and reported a bear incident to show off which then had to be officially reported and led to his girlfriend finding out about his indiscretions.