Paul “Bear” Vasquez lived simply. He took refuge on the side of a mountain outside Yosemite National Park, grew his own food, and woke up each morning to one of the most magnificent views in California.
The world may never have known it without a spectacular double rainbow.
Vasquez, the corpulent man whose cries of elation at a double rainbow transformed him into a viral star, died Saturday at 57 years. The Mariposa County Coroner’s office confirmed his death to CNN.
“Bear” lived in relative loneliness for much of his life. But his sincere love for nature – and rainbows in particular – has attracted millions of people.
In January 2010, he left his home to find two bright rainbows, stacked on top of each other, stretched across the mountainous horizon. The impressive sight made him cry. Naturally, he recorded it.
“Oh my god, this is a full double rainbow across the sky! He whispers in the video before letting out a scream full on his stomach.
He shared the clip naked on YouTube with few expectations. But in a few days, he had accumulated millions of views – and today he has 47 million and it is not over.
He became a minor celebrity because of it. He appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, in advertisements for Microsoft and Smartwater and even in a flight safety video for Delta Air Lines.
“I am the global authority on rainbows,” he told CNN in 2015.
Vasquez flourished in the California desert. He moved from East Los Angeles, where he was born and worked as a firefighter, to Yosemite in 1985. He held various positions in the national park, then left the park as a cage fighter and truck driver.
He got married, had kids and got divorced. Finally, he settled in his humble perch on the side of a mountain in Mariposa, 16 km from the edge of Yosemite, where he grew his own food and grew marijuana plants.
“When you live alone like this, you connect to nature on a deeper level,” he told CNN almost five years ago. “When you can scream at the top of your lungs and no one cares or knows, it gives you a type of freedom that most people don’t understand. “
CNN caught up with Vasquez in 2015, five years after the viral success of his double rainbow clip. He was earning only $ 6,000 a year.
“In some ways, I feel really, really rich,” he said. “I may not have a lot of money, but I have a 100 mile view with complete privacy that hundreds of millions of people have seen. I have it pretty well. “
YOUTUBE VIDEOS UNTIL THE END
He continued to document his daily life (and the fantastic views from his front porch) on YouTube until his death. The channel is a living testimony to his life, he told CNN in 2015.
” [Making videos] it’s fun for me, entertaining for me, “he said. “This is my art and these are my memories. “
He was also open about his health issues in his videos. In a clip from November 2019, he said that nerve damage in his legs made it more and more difficult for him to walk.
In 2019, he shared that a tree had fallen on his beloved house. He moved into an apartment in March with the help of his ex-wife and two adult children. (CNN has contacted his ex-wife and daughter for comments and is waiting to hear them.)
It wasn’t as far apart as his mountainside home had been. But, as he showed viewers in a recent YouTube video, he has clung to the view of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, although it is slightly obscured now. And inside, he had decorated his wall with a rainbow tapestry to make him feel more like home.