Laudizen King Banner gathered along the way
long road home Signposts and Junctions      

Incident at Evergreen Lodge

Incident at Evergreen Lodge, or Risk in the Wilderness


Several years have passed since I last visited the rustic Evergreen Lodge near Yosemite National Park. The lodge is located outside the Park boundary on the Evergreen Road, a short distance from the entrance gate on rte 120, the main road for visitors driving into the Park from the San Francisco Bay area. After visiting the Evergreen Lodge website, I saw that the owners have renovated the old cabins and erected new ones on the 22-acre property. However, when I was a patron, in the late 1990’s and in the early years of the new millennium, the sleeping cottages were small, old, and musty with tiny bathrooms featuring ancient fixtures while all the site’s buildings showed the wear and tear of hard use and long winters. Back then, the old cabins sat nestled in the trees around a horseshoe-shaped dirt drive located behind the main building, a long one-story affair that fronted on Evergreen Road. Yet the restaurant served delicious food and the bar poured an ample drink so the wife and I availed ourselves of its stellar location and stayed at the lodge at least once or twice a year.

An asphalt parking area set within the tall trees separated the wood building from the road and several short sets of steps led up to a long porch that ran, mostly covered, along the front of Evergreen Lodge. On the right end of the building sat a small general store, which also served as the rental office; it catered to the simple needs of park visitors by selling basic sundries, hiking maps, and foodstuffs. A casual bar and lounge occupied the building’s left end while a long dining and restaurant area located in the center of the structure fed the assembled guests and visitors.

Shirley and I arrived late one summer evening and seeing that the rental office had closed, we secured the key to our cabin from the bartender. We drove to our unit and parked alongside the small building. Two wooden steps led up to the entrance, protected by a small covered porch. Shirley held the screen-door and I unlocked the entryway; after switching on the lights and opening the windows, we returned to the car for our bags.

On that first trip to the car, I felt something sting me on the arm. I slapped the offender off but the sharp pain told me the insect had buried his barb in my skin. A few seconds later, coming back from the car with a bag in each hand, I felt something substantial fly up my pants leg. Dropping the duffels, I ran past Shirley and leapt into the cabin, yelling and tearing at my belt and zipper as the unseen intruder planted his stinger deep into the sensitive portion of my inner thigh. I finally opened my trousers and pulled them down the legs to reveal a yellow jacket perched on the white skin, its poison dart imbedded in my flesh. I swatted the attacker to the floor and crushed it with my shoe until it was unrecognizable.

I looked up and saw other visitors walking past our cabin; they stopped and stared at me as I stood inside the doorway in my underwear, trousers on the floor.

“Damn,” I said. “That hurt, and stung twice as well. What’s up with that?” I raised and secured my pants and then Shirley and I made our way cautiously outside and walked over to the bar.

The evening proceeded without further drama and after dinner, we retired for the night. In the morning, I went for coffee. As the screen-door slammed behind me, a throng of buzzing jackets swarmed around the porch. This time, one of the yellow gangsters stung me on the soft skin of the upper inner arm, another sensitive spot. I ran for safety as well as for coffee. Returning to the cabin with two cups of hot joe, I handed the coffees to Shirley and stood on the porch to investigate. Letting the screen door slam, I saw 40 or 50 angry yellow jackets fly out of a gap in the old shingles about twelve inches to the left of the doorjamb, looking to do battle with whatever had disturbed their nest within.

This explained the earlier attacks; I shared the front door of my cabin with a nest of yellow jackets!

I ran off the porch and walked to the rental office in a frenzy, throwing open the door and bounding across the threshold. A friendly face peered out from behind the counter.

“Can I help you?” he asked somewhat tentatively, noticing the distress that was evident on my face.

“I sure hope so,” I replied. I told him my name and said, “My wife and I need a different cabin; those damn yellow jackets have stung me three times since I’ve been here.”

“I’m sorry, but we’re sold out this weekend; you’ll have to make do. And besides,” he added, the disdain evident in his voice, “you have to assume a bit of personal risk whenever you visit the mountains or the wilderness.”

“Personal risk,” I stammered, veins popping out on my forehead. “Risk? There’s a damn yellow jacket nest on the front porch. Every time the door of our cabin is opened or closed, a squadron of angry yellow jackets comes swarming about, looking for whoever is standing outside!”

“Oh,” he said; all traces of condescension now absent from his tone. “Let me get someone to take a look.”

I showed a maintenance worker the hole under the shingles that the yellow jackets used to enter the nest, and then Shirley and I left for our day hike to North Dome.

Upon our return, I saw that someone had nailed a new wood shingle over the hole; no yellow jackets were in evidence. But that night’s sleep was one long fitful nightmare, my dreams filled with images of thousands of enraged yellow jackets tunneling their way out of the walls on the inside of the cabin in the dark, emerging in a virulent whirlwind to sting us to death as we slept.



Evergreen Lodge


Evergreen Lodge


Evergreen Lodge


Evergreen Lodge


Evergreen Lodge


Laudizen King
Los Angeles
May, 2012