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We all knew him simply as “the double rainbow guy.” But his name was Paul Vasquez, and, sadly, he’s passed away at the age of 57.
“Paul ‘Bear’ Vasquez lived simply. He sheltered on the side of a mountain outside Yosemite National Park, grew his own food and woke up every morning to one of the most magnificent views in California,” CNN reported. “The world may never have known him if not for a spectacular double rainbow.”
From his incredible vantage point in the hills of Yosemite, Vasquez captured a double rainbow on his cellphone — and narrated the whole thing.
“Double rainbow! It’s a double rainbow all the way. Whoa. Whooa! Oh my God, oh my God!” he says in the video, shot in 2010.
“Oh my God, it’s a full-on double rainbow all the way across the sky!” he says quietly before letting out a full-throated whoop. “It’s started to look like a triple rainbow!”
The sheer beauty of the scene overwhelms him and he breaks out into sobs of joy. “What does this mean?!” he asks. “It’s so bright and vivid. Ohh. OHHH! It’s so beautiful!” he says as his sobs grow louder.
“Double complete rainbow, in my front yard!” he says, the sobs grower even louder. “It’s too much! I don’t know what it means. Oh my God! It’s so intense!”
But Vasquez was more than just “the double rainbow guy.”
He was born in east Los Angeles, where he grew up, eventually working as a firefighter. But Vasquez yearned for the mountains.
“Vasquez thrived in the California wilderness. He moved from East Los Angeles … to Yosemite in 1985. He worked in a variety of roles at the national park and later out of the park as a cage fighter and truck driver,” CNN reported.
He married, had children and divorced. Finally, he settled at his humble perch on the side of a mountain in Mariposa, 10 miles from the edge of Yosemite, where he grew his own food and cultivated marijuana plants.
“When you live alone like this, you connect to nature on a deeper level,” he told CNN nearly five years ago. “When you can yell at the top of your lungs and no one cares or knows, it gives you a type of freedom that most people have no understanding of.”
Vasquez didn’t care much about money. In 2015, he made just $6,000 a year.
“In some aspects, I feel really, really rich,” he said. “I may not have a lot of dollars, but I have 100 mile views with complete privacy that hundreds of millions of people have seen. I got it pretty good.”
For a short time, Bear had his moment of fame, even making an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” as well as in ads for Microsoft and Smartwater. He starred in an in-flight safety video for Delta Air Lines.
He joked about that fame in 2015, saying: “I’m the world’s authority on rainbows.”
“You can’t look at a double rainbow anymore and not think about me,” he said.
And he’s right.
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