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Yosemite deaths: required reading

Yosemite deaths: required reading

News about the deaths of three tourists at Yosemite National Park -- they reportedly were swept over Vernal Fall -- should be enough to prevent similar incidents. But as someone who has visited a number of national parks, I'm always amazed at the number of people who don't recognize the true meaning of the wild.

Around the time my family was out west last summer, a tourist in Yellowstone was tossed by a bison after getting too close for a video. The Yosemite tourists, three college students, reportedly climbed over a guard rail to have their photo taken on a rock in the Merced River, but were caught in the powerful waters.

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Maybe tourists have become so used to the faux wilderness of places like Disneyworld -- or the comfortable lodges of the parks themselves -- that they fail to recognize the dangers nearby. But these parks are truly wild, and the dangers -- wildlife, lightning, raging rivers -- are real. Books such as "Into Thin Air," "The Perfect Storm" or "Into the Wild" are sobering reminders of nature's power. They should be required reading for any tourist who plans to stray past the tour bus.

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