"Bear" lived in relative solitude for much of his life. But his sincere love of nature – and rainbows especially – loved him to millions.
In January 2010, he left home to find two brilliant rainbows, stacked on top of one another, stretched across the mountainous horizon. His amazing eyesight brought him tears. Naturally, he recorded it.
"My God, it's a full on double rainbow all over the sky!" he whispers in the video before releasing a full belly.
He shared soul-searching clips on YouTube with little expectation. But within a few days it had millions of views – and today it has 47 million and counting.
He became a minor celebrity because of it. He appeared on "Jimmy Kimmel Live", in ads for Microsoft and Smartwater and even in a security video for Delta Air Lines.
He was a lifelong nature lover
Vasquez thrived in the California wilderness. He moved from East Los Angeles, where he was born and worked as a firefighter, to Yosemite in 1985. He worked in a variety of roles in the National Park and later out of the park as a burman and truck driver.
He got married, had children and got divorced. Finally, he settled by his humble perch on the side of a mountain in Mariposa, 10 miles from the edge of Yosemite, where he cultivated his own food and cultivated marijuana plants.
"When you live alone like that, you connect with 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 the kind of freedom most people don't understand."
"In some aspects, I feel really, really rich," he said. "I may not have many dollars, but I have 100 miles of views with complete privacy that hundreds of millions of people have seen. I feel pretty good."
He made YouTube videos to his death
He continued to document his daily life (and the amazing sights of the boat) on YouTube until his death. The channel is a living record of his life, he told CNN in 2015.
"[Making videos] is fun for me, entertaining for me, "he said." It's my art and it's my memories. "