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69RoadRunner

Hanging Bear Bags is Often a Bad Idea

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"It Happened to Me
Climbing towards Kearsarge pass to resupply out Onion Valley I was closing the gap between myself and several other more traditional hikers (read large packs) when a ranger appeared on the rise 1/4 mile up the trail. He continued his decent past the traditional hikers but stopped to question me. It was obvious that he had singled me out to check for a canister because my pack was small and, had I wished to, there would have been no way to have avoided this encounter . Even though I told him that I was carrying a canister, he did not believe me and demanded to see it with the comment "Ursacks and homemade canisters are not acceptable". The bottom line is that I had to pull out one of the approved canisters or receive a fine of $150. I produced the Wild Ideas Bearicade for the ranger, who was clearly disappointed that he couldn't make an example out of what had seemed to be an irresponsible ultralite hiker. Truth be known I had been struggling with the canister issue two weeks earlier and had nearly decided to carry Tom Cohen's Ursack TKO, a bear bag made from kevlar that isn't on the approved list."

http://thru-hiker.com/articles/bear_canister_bias.php

 

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3 hours ago, Sentinel947 said:

 I'm not an expert on bears, but in late fall, winter, early spring, depending on local bear hibernation patterns, going back to a sub optimal food hang is probably just fine. 

Bear behavior during the supposedly dormant months doesn't have much to do with locale but rather other factors such as ambient temperatures and the health of the bear. Black bears are not true hibernators but enter a state of torpor from which they can readily awaken.  A January thaw, ill health, or stimulation can entice many bears to wake up randomly and seek food. We all have that image in our head of bears snug in a deep cave during winter months but in reality a black bear den can simply be a depression under a fallen log or thicket. Even slight human activity in the immediate vicinity can awaken them.  As bear populations increase, increased caution is a useful consideration.   

 

 

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On 9/11/2020 at 6:48 PM, DuctTape said:

True. I have seen some terrible hangs.

My ursack has been attacked, still has the teeth marks. 

When hanging with our 2-tree method, we are significantly higher and farther than the recommended.

Skurka when sleeping with his food also hasn't had that method tested by his own metric.

True, but he explains the circumstances are specific for when he sleeps with his food.

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Woodbadge camp near Harpers Ferry near to the AT.

Food storage was in big plastic coolers, tied shut with rope.  Everyone was aware of critter visits.

We all slept in separate, one person tents.  One morning, after a rainy night, under the "breakfast pavilion",  my buddy asks me how I slept, I said fine, you? He said he was kept awake by the "bullfrogs" grunting all night. I found this amusing, as did the rest of the WBers, because the creek was a good 500 yards away from our campsite.  Upon further inspection, we found  bear tracks thru the campground, in the muddy areas...... Bears do grunt, or is it a "wulf, wulf..." sound?  

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I hope the article was educational and people will at least consider their options in the wilderness. The points Skurka makes are valid in my limited experience. Options vary based on location and most people are bad at hanging bear bags.

We rented a cabin in Lost River State Park (family, not scouting). They had trash cans for the cabin that were supposed to be bearproof. They were heavy duty plastic and the lid screwed on.

One evening, we heard a noise. We looked out the back door and watched a black bear unscrew the lid to get himself a meal (and make a mess for us).

They now have metal bearproof storage containers that actually work.

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