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View Full Version : Bear Bagging on the AT. Who does, who doesnít and do we really need to?



highway
12-27-2003, 15:32
It is my opinion that just like treating or filtering all of our water, we have been scared into always hanging our food and I honestly donít think that either is always necessary. But, both are personal decisions that each of us must make for ourselves, depending upon the conditions. For my part I consider treating or filtering crystal clear water from a fast-moving mountain stream as ludicrous, just as much so as always hanging my food at a stealth camp. I seldom do either.

There are certainly times when treating drinking water MAY be necessary, such as from slow-moving sources, ponds or stagnant pools. But I certainly donít think there is a black bear hiding behind every bush with my name at the top of his entrťe list. From the number of bear posts on the forum, I see that many apparently do. Anyway, on the few occasions I considered it, I could never quickly find a suitable pair of trees, became tired of looking as it was getting darker, felt foolish and stopped. But that is only my opinion. I was curious to know what is yours?

illininagel
12-27-2003, 16:02
we have been scared into always hanging our food and I honestly donít think that either is always necessary. But, both are personal decisions that each of us must make for ourselves

I have no problem if you choose not to filter your water. The only one who is impacted is you. The only way I'm affected by that decision is that I'll certainly be sympathetic if you happen to contract an instestinal infection. The associated abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea are not a lot of fun.

I do have a problem with those that choose not to hang food in regulated areas, because this does impact others. That decision can lead to a bear learning that human beings are an easy source of food. This is potentially dangerous to other hikers and can be very destructive for the bear.

So, drink all the infected water you can, but please don't feed the wildlife!

bearbag hanger
12-27-2003, 16:50
So, drink all the infected water you can, but please don't feed the wildlife!

I agree. I use a bear canister. Heavy and bulky, but they work. If EVERYONE did a really good job hanging their food bags, I believe, the bears would still be able to get a small percentage of them. Hanging the food doesn't really solve the problem, only delays the inevitable. On the other hand, no one is going to carry a bear canister like I do. Hanging is far better than ignoring the problem.

illininagel
12-27-2003, 18:25
I use a bear canister. Heavy and bulky, but they work.

Yeah. The problem with the canisters is that they are just too heavy and bulky for a thru-hike. I've used them before when backpacking for just a few nights in Yosemite National Park. But, they sure don't seem practical for a hike of over 2,000 miles!

Tater
12-27-2003, 18:36
But I certainly donít think there is a black bear hiding behind every bush with my name at the top of his entrťe list.

I mouse bag and racoon bag more than bear bag. Always hang your food, if you don't want to share with the varmints.

Doctari
12-27-2003, 19:29
I didn't vote actually. I almost always "bear bag" my food. But I don't hang it to keep it away from bears, it's to keep the food away from mice & other critters.


Doctari.

TJ aka Teej
12-27-2003, 20:32
we have been scared into always hanging our food
Critter-bagging is the result of being responsible, not scared.

hungryhowie
12-27-2003, 21:09
...Yes, I know it should be to...that's part of the joke. Don't get it? read on.

I didn't vote because 1) I rarely ever hang my food and 2) I "bear bag" it every night. Since I can't vote twice, I'll vote none. During my hike in 2000, I spent a vast majority of my trail nights in shelters (much to my regret). I hung my food from the tuna can, and never once had a problem. The only time a critter ever got some food was one night when I was lazy and just hung my food from a branch-stub about 2 feet off the ground and two feet from my head. When I woke up the next morning, there was a small hole in the side of the bag, and about three bagels had nibbling marks on them. After the trail, I invested in an Ursack; not because I was scared into doing something about bears (I always hang my food when there is high bear activity or when it is advised (seriously)), but because I wanted to be able to stealth camp wherever I wanted with a minimum of hassle. I still hang it in bear country, but I don't worry about it when smaller critters are all there is.

-Howie

bailcor
12-27-2003, 21:18
I have to vote with HIGHWAY on both counts. I was born in 1938 and grew up in the lower, mountainous part of WVA.. We spent a great deal of time roaming around the mountains down there. Myself, older brother and four cousins were in the woods more than we were at home during the summers. All six of us drank from every imaginable water source (even stump water) and never came down with a hint of intestinal distress. It is my belief that the majority of these intestinal problems results from the lack of individual sanitation and if everyone washed their hands before handling food or sharing food that this malady would all but disappear.

The bears come to shelters because they are established to provide shelter for many. Hikers cook their food there in large numbers and the odor of that cooking food is bourne on the wind.
Bear goes there the same reason the mouse goes there, the food is there. HIGHWAY mentioned stealth camping. I bet HIGHWAY doesnít eat where he sleeps.

highway
12-28-2003, 09:38
BAILCOR:
Thanks for the helpful observation, bailcor. And you are correct in that I mentioned stealth camping to elicit bear bagging responses and not critter bagging around shelters. The two are completely different. Since so many stay in shelters along the At, perhaps the poll was flawed from the beginning to generate those comments. Anyway, I was more interested in what others do when not at (or near) these shelters because, as you pointed out, both bears and critters associate them with easy morsels. A few miles down the road and a few hundred feet off the trail, the conditions are completely different, as is the response.

Peaks
12-28-2003, 10:30
I'm in the sometimes category.

The bottom line is when in bear country, then hang a bear bag or use a bear box. When not in bear country, then just hang your food so it is out of reach of other critters. The mouse hangers in shelters are adequate.

How do you know when you are in bear country? If you see a bear line or a bear box, then it should be obvious. If a shelter doesn't have mouse hangers, there there is probably a bear problem. Beyond that, read the shelter register. If there is talk about bear activity, then better be prepared to hand up a good bear bag.

Other than that, bears are definately smart and creatures of habit. They know where the popular places are for campers and hikers. So, then go there looking for food. Thus, if you stealth camp even in bear country, you will probably not have a bear encounter. The Adirondacks have some real smart bears. However, only in a few places like Marcy Dam and Lake Coldin are they a problem. Both these places are real popular camping areas, and everynight the bears make their rounds. However, elsewhere, even a few miles away, it's rare to have a bear problem.

Sand Crab
12-28-2003, 11:08
Since the poll says ALMOST always bear bag, that is how I voted. It only takes a few minutes to toss a line over a limb if one is available. I feel that the risk of having a bear chew up my pack or worse even once justifies the time. Can't trust those sneaky bears. Sometimes they leave the shelter area and just wander through the woods. Some act like they own the place!

Footslogger
12-28-2003, 17:33
Why tempt fate. Sure ...the chances are slim that an actual bear might come into camp at night and swipe your food. But bears aren't the only thing to think about in that regard.

I always hung my food during my thru hike this year and previous hikes. I sometimes used the hangars inside the shelters rather than using a tree branch and line but I always got my food bag up off the ground. Was it necessary ?? Dunno ...but I went the distance this year and never had any critters mess with my food bag.

Peaks
12-28-2003, 17:50
Why tempt fate. Sure ...the chances are slim that an actual bear might come into camp at night and swipe your food. But bears aren't the only thing to think about in that regard.

I always hung my food during my thru hike this year and previous hikes. I sometimes used the hangars inside the shelters rather than using a tree branch and line but I always got my food bag up off the ground. Was it necessary ?? Dunno ...but I went the distance this year and never had any critters mess with my food bag.

There's a difference between bear bagging, and critter bagging, at least in my mind. Hanging food in a shelter is not bear proof. So, yes, I aways hung my food also, but usually in the shelter. But, when in an area with active bear activity, it goes into a bear box, bear line, or up on my own bear line. I'd say that in New Jersey, and Georgia, the chances are almost certain that a bear will come around the shelters between dusk and dawn. But, in Vermont and Maine, two states with bears, I think that using the shelter hangers works just fine with a few exceptions.

Jaybird
12-29-2003, 13:11
since the trail caretaker "Gizmo" told me to "bear-bag" my first night (@ Springer Mtn) on the A.T.....why tempt fate?



also, it keeps the other critters away from you (tent or shelter...except for those darn, stubborn mice). ;)

bearbait2k4
01-30-2004, 01:46
In a shelter, I'll hang it up, preferrably under a tuna can.

In my tent, It's my pillow.

Unless, of course, I'm in New Jersey.

Rancid
01-30-2004, 08:30
Since the poll says ALMOST always bear bag, that is how I voted. It only takes a few minutes to toss a line over a limb if one is available. I feel that the risk of having a bear chew up my pack or worse even once justifies the time. Can't trust those sneaky bears. Sometimes they leave the shelter area and just wander through the woods. Some act like they own the place!
Tossing a line over a branch can be the highlight of the day! I've seen some hilarious attemps at this "simple act". :D

Lone Wolf
01-30-2004, 08:34
Never have, never will. Always keep it in my tent.

Jester2000
01-31-2004, 13:37
'Course, Wolf also keeps a big-assed gun in his tent too. So there's that.

Lone Wolf
01-31-2004, 14:17
Now now. Don't be spreadin no rumors. :D

Skeemer
01-31-2004, 14:42
I went out and bought this expensive "bear bag" but never had the nerve to tie it around the tree like they told you you could. I did wonder if it would hold up, as they claimed it was "bear proof" (although not guaranteed) I could imagine the contents being crushed if it did hold up to an attack. I almost sent it home to buy something lighter but ended up carrying it the entire hike. I'll try using on JMT instead of a canister. 'Course I never had to worry about mice and in "bear country" I did sling it or put it in containers.

I wasn't entirely pleased with it...the tips fell off the cords and they started freying...I had to tape them up.

Never had any bear incidences.

BTW, you wouldn't shoot a bear would ya LW?

Lone Wolf
01-31-2004, 15:45
Nah. Just people. :cool:

rainmaker
01-31-2004, 18:48
Ma and I shared Trimpi Shelter last October with a young couple from Minnesota . Did I spell that right? Anyway the young lady came running back from the privy exclaiming " I just saw my first bear ". She said that it didn't seem to be that large and just ambled off into the brush. I suggested we hang our food just in case. The young couple dutifully pulled out their store bought bear bag and hung it next to the shelter about five feet off the ground. Oh well. Those things must not come with instructions. We suggested an alternative and all of us made it through the night with no problems.

Happy
02-01-2004, 00:08
I almost always bear bag, but I am starting to reconsider... as last March 1st and 15th woke up in the middle of the night to find my gorp and etc. still inside my tent...no problem...and to realize that experienced thru hikers such as Heald never bear bagged.

eldwayno
02-01-2004, 03:21
I don't bag... I use a canister. I like it, it's very useful for up here in the Adirondack Bear Country where they've gotten quite skilled at dropping bear bags. I will be using my canister on my thru-hike this year.

foodbag
02-01-2004, 11:17
On my thru-hike attempt in 1999 there was much discussion about bears, hanging and all that sort of thing. I entered the Smokies thinking that the place was infested with them and after 7 days of the Smokies and no bears, no bear tracks, not a trace I thought that maybe somebody had taken all the bears to a zoo in Gatlinburg or something.

Well, lo and behold, at some innocuous place in Virginia I rounded the bend and there were two bears right in the middle of the trail, in a place that I would have never suspected bear activity. Kinda got me to thinking a little and you can be sure the bag went up high that night!

Later that summer in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks I had strung my bag about twenty feet off the ground between two trees about twenty-five feet apart. In the morning when I went to bring the bag down I saw claw marks on both trees plus a small sapling in the middle between the two was snapped off where a crafty ole bruin had tried to shinny up as well. The bag was still there so I guess this particular bear hadn't learned to bite the line through and I got to eat that day. Two hapless girls who had stored their food in their tent in the same general vicinity came back from a day hike to find their tent shredded, food gone and trip ruined. Ultimately the bear had to be driven off with rubber bullets by a ranger.

It seems to me that you just don't know where you will find a bear so I say, unless you want to go hungry, spend some time making a good hang. Some innocent bear will also benefit from not having to be destroyed after becoming a "nuisance". It's the careless people who are the nuisance, not the bears!

Brushy Sage
02-01-2004, 11:42
I don't bag... I use a canister. I like it, it's very useful for up here in the Adirondack Bear Country where they've gotten quite skilled at dropping bear bags. I will be using my canister on my thru-hike this year.

Question, please: How much does the cannister weigh, and how do you pack it? Also, where do you store it at night?

Patco
02-01-2004, 16:37
Example of "backpacker cache" "bear cannister" at this site: (price, size, weight, description)

http://www.wildernessdining.com/gm812.html

Surely there are dozens of designs and sizes and weights. Probably so scent proof you could use it for a pillow. YOU could, I say, not me.

:bse

Brushy Sage
02-01-2004, 17:44
Example of "backpacker cache" "bear cannister" at this site: (price, size, weight, description)

http://www.wildernessdining.com/gm812.html

Surely there are dozens of designs and sizes and weights. Probably so scent proof you could use it for a pillow. YOU could, I say, not me.

:bse

Very interesting. Thanks.

warren doyle
02-02-2004, 14:46
I have never bear-bagged on the Appalachian Trail. But then again, I rarely ever eat where I sleep.

eldwayno
02-03-2004, 02:19
My Bearikade Canister weighs 2#'s 4 ounces, I just store it in the main compartment of my pack, it takes up most of the room in my pack but it holds 9 days worth of food, I could probably squeeze up to 11 days worth if I tried. Storing it at night I'd walk it out into the woods throw up a piece of flagging tape on a branch above it and go to sleep, of the 30+ nights I've used it, it's still yet to be moved.

Blue Jay
02-03-2004, 08:45
:-? :-? :-? :-?

highway
02-03-2004, 09:03
.....it's still yet to be moved.

That's my point exactly.
Its a cruel, needless hoax

eldwayno
02-03-2004, 11:30
That's my point exactly.
Its a cruel, needless hoax

Not a needless hoax, I bought mine after having my food swiped by a bear when it was bear bagged properly in the heavily used High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. Probably the reason that it hasn't been moved is due simply to the fact that it's air tight for the most part which kills a lot of the scent.

Peaks
02-03-2004, 17:54
Not a needless hoax, I bought mine after having my food swiped by a bear when it was bear bagged properly in the heavily used High Peaks region of the Adirondacks. Probably the reason that it hasn't been moved is due simply to the fact that it's air tight for the most part which kills a lot of the scent.

If you plan to stay at one of the popular sites in the High Peaks, such as Lake Coldin/Flowed Lands and Marcy Dam, then a canister is a very good investment. The bears there are certainly smarter than the average bear. Next time I'm staying in one of those areas, I'll probably use a canister.

However, elsewhere in the Adirondacks, the bears are not a problem, or at least I haven't heard the stories like at the popular areas. So, I'll continue to bear bag in those areas.

As for the AT, there are some areas with bear problems. When in those areas, please use either the bear cables, bear box, or string up your own bear line. A fed bear usually becomes a dead bear.

rumbler
02-03-2004, 18:55
I bagged it thru the Smokies. After that, it stayed in my tent except for state and national parks and New Jersey.

Never had a problem, and it frequently served as a pillow for my feet.

tribes
02-03-2004, 19:36
I have hiked the AT section of NJ multiple times during spring, summer, and fall. I have seen a dozen or so bears in the last two years on the AT from DWG to Harriman, NY. There is not really any section of the NJ where they are not very active. I would highly suggest using the bear boxes provided at shelters or properly bear bag it high away from camp. You will be hard pressed to find a section of the AT with such a dense bear population. Prevent a possible incident and do the smart/right thing.

screwysquirrel
02-06-2004, 01:42
You better use the bear poles in the SNP, last year 2 hikers got tickets for not using them at the Black Rock shelter. The ranger said everybody has to use the bear pole and not to hang your food or cook in the shelter. He also ran everybodies I.D. cards to make sure you weren't wanted by anyone. :banana

Crash! Bang!
10-14-2004, 23:10
i have a bearikade. no bagging needed

Skeemer
10-15-2004, 08:08
I just got back from doing the JMT. The first night out we chatted with the Ranger at the station near the tenting area. She said two beautiful bears had to be destroyed this summer as they had become a nuisance to hikers.

We never experienced one bear the entire JMT, but after talking to her the extra weight and the bulkiness of the canister never bothered me. What bothered me was the pissing and moaning from those who didn't want to carry the extra weight.

I don't know...isn't it comnon sense. Bears and people are both animals that get hungry and go after food at the easiest place they can find it. We have McDonalds and bears have stupid backpackers. Trouble is, bears get put down and we get fat and die of heart attacks.

BTW, maybe they shoud start destroying hikers...that would sure as hell solve the problem.

Footslogger
10-15-2004, 11:06
To me ...hanging a bearbag is a lot like religion (not that I'm an overly religous person). All it takes is one incident involving YOUR food being snitched by a bear and you start hanging one.

Like Skeemer just said, it's common sense. Sooner or later you're going to camp in the tromping grounds of some hungry bear. Geez ...they ain't really mean animals by nature ...they're just trying to survive. When a hiker dangles a carrot, so to speak, by leaving aromatic food within easy reach it's gonna get eaten, if not by bears than by "mini-bears" (chipmonks).

Hanging a bag isn't that big of a deal. I know plenty of hikers who never hung a food bag in 2003 and didn't get victimized. Guess those are the hikers who might tell you that a bearbag is an unecessary waste of time. Heck ...there were several nights when I was too tired (or lazy) to hang my food last year, but as a rule I generally do and if asked I typically advised other hikers to do the same.

Getting back to my opening comment ...all it takes is one incident involving YOUR food getting snatched and you get religion and starting hanging it up and out of the reach of other hungry animals. And now that I think of it ...it's a bit like politics. It's more "liberal" to NOT hang a bearbag but again, when a liberal's space gets invaded they generally become a tad more conservative.

Anyhew ...just my .02

'Slogger
AT 2003

Blue Jay
10-15-2004, 11:21
And now that I think of it ...it's a bit like politics. It's more "liberal" to NOT hang a bearbag but again, when a liberal's space gets invaded they generally become a tad more conservative.


Careful, you'll get this thread sent to the Twilight Zone.

Lone Wolf
10-15-2004, 11:24
I'm still a liberal non-bearbagger after 18 years on the AT. I ain't skeered of no bear! :D

Footslogger
10-15-2004, 11:25
Careful, you'll get this thread sent to the Twilight Zone.
OK then ...I withdraw that statement. Last thing I want to do is screw up this thread. Then again, I used to really like watching the Twilight Zone on TV when I was a kid.

'Slogger
AT 2003

Footslogger
10-15-2004, 11:26
I'm still a liberal non-bearbagger after 18 years on the AT. I ain't skeered of no bear! :D
Shoot Lone Wolf ...I'm not particulary scared of bears either. I just like to eat and I hate the thought of hiking hungry to the next town.

'Slogger
AT 2003

smokymtnsteve
10-15-2004, 11:28
I'm still a liberal non-bearbagger after 18 years on the AT. I ain't skeered of no bear! :D


you keep up staying sober LW and you'll probably start getting LIBERAL on your polyticks too, :D

Lone Wolf
10-15-2004, 11:31
Well I'm just a real mountain man. I don't hang food, treat or filter any water, don't use no stinkin sticks or Leki poles, ain't got no Gore-tex or titanium anything and carry a 40+ pound pack. :D

Footslogger
10-15-2004, 11:36
Well I'm just a real mountain man. I don't hang food, treat or filter any water, don't use no stinkin sticks or Leki poles, ain't got no Gore-tex or titanium anything and carry a 40+ pound pack. :D
What can I say LW ...YOU DA MAN !!

Lone Wolf
10-15-2004, 11:37
Naw. I'm just full of s**t. :)

grrickar
10-15-2004, 12:12
I always bag the food and hang it, and sometimes the entire pack if mice are a problem (which they usualy are). Better to be safe than sorry. The only time I did not bear bag was on Max Patch, and there isn't anywhere to hang it there unless you hike off the face of the bald and hang it further down.

Doctari
11-17-2004, 02:11
I answered that: I almost always bear bag. I do almost always hang my food, but rarely as a protection against Bears, I hang against: Mice, raccoons, etc. If it keeps it from bears, I'm OK with that, if not, well, its' only a 3 day hike to more food.

Doctari.

Skeemer
11-17-2004, 13:19
Doctari wrote in part:
I I almost always bear bag. I do almost always hang my food, but rarely as a protection against Bears,

Don't you care that a bear might learn that backpackers are an easy food source, will become a nuisance and then have to be destroyed?

flyfisher
11-17-2004, 14:36
I voted that I don't, but after reading some responses, I may have hit the wrong button.

I always use an Ursack.

It has never been violated by a bear, a mouse, or anything in between. If a cable is provided, I hang my ursack from it. If it is not provided, I hang it from a mouse hanger or if away from shelters, I just put it in the fork of a tree to mostly keep bugs and mice away from it.

The only thing that has gotten into my sac is water, so I have sewn a loop on the bottom of the bag and have a carabiner attached to it to hang the bag upside down.

Kozmic Zian
11-18-2004, 14:54
Yea.....I almost always hang food in a bag from Tuna Rope with a twig tied to the bottom, to hopefully keep the mices out. Seems to work unless you're in a shelter somewhere and the mices are 'trapeze artists'.....then nothing really works. As far as bears go, it depends on if you're in a 'high bear traffic' area. You'll know that as the boxes or poles will be there as in the Shenandoah NP. But sometimes if 'stealthing', one might want to swing a piece of nylon military line with a rock tied to one end over one limb, 'bout 15' off the ground, tieing the line to the base of the tree. Then pick up the rock and throw it over another limb on another tree close by and then tie the food bag into the center of the line. Then you pull it tight and tie it off to the base of the tree, the bag raises up to the full 15' off the ground and in the middle, between the two trees. Otherwise you're waisting your time. Bears can climb good, so can raccoons, and most critters. If your bear bag is just swung over a limb somewhere near the tree trunk, it's toast. That's why you have to carry the 20-30' (OK 50',geeze) of nylon line. Dosen't weigh much and provides for alot of peace of mind. That's called 'Bear Baggin' '. Nothing else seems as effective. Oh, yea.....Standard Operating Proceedure.....'SOP'.....Don't eat where you sleep. KZ@

Tractor
11-18-2004, 19:54
except u need about 45-50 feet of cord to get that 15' height right? I usually take a 50'er, have some left over sometimes and have to play "jump up" others.
Good that no one has photos of the "awkward" events! Also, scope out those "V/Y" limbs in daylight/light if possible. U don't want your food bag crashing down in the middle of the night, critters or no critters, when a rotten limb let's go.......

Youngblood
11-18-2004, 22:34
except u need about 45-50 feet of cord to get that 15' height right? I usually take a 50'er, have some left over sometimes and have to play "jump up" others.
Good that no one has photos of the "awkward" events! Also, scope out those "V/Y" limbs in daylight/light if possible. U don't want your food bag crashing down in the middle of the night, critters or no critters, when a rotten limb let's go.......

Yeah, I also questioned the 20-30 feet of cord for hanging between two trees and having it 15 feet off the ground. I usually hang over one branch, use 50 feet of cord and sometimes I need all of it, but not always. However, the times I have had to use two trees, I have had to scrape together a little extra cord to have enough. Am I doing something wrong? I mean with two trees 15 to 20 feet apart, the limbs 15 feet high, you do have it within arms reach at some point and you have to tie in off at a couple of places.

Youngblood

Bloodroot
11-19-2004, 07:50
Since I can remember I have always hung my bag this way: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/bear_bag_hanging_technique.html
This place calls it the PCT Method. Never knew it by that name.....anyhow it has never let me down and is real easy to do.

Kozmic Zian
11-19-2004, 08:03
except u need about 45-50 feet of cord to get that 15' height right? I usually take a 50'er, have some left over sometimes and have to play "jump up" others.
Good that no one has photos of the "awkward" events! Also, scope out those "V/Y" limbs in daylight/light if possible. U don't want your food bag crashing down in the middle of the night, critters or no critters, when a rotten limb let's go.......

Yea....You Got That er, Right! I remember the 1st time I encountered the 'Bear Poles' in the Shenandoah NP......what a laugher that was. I did't particularly like the way the damn things looked that 1st shelter N. out of Waynesboro, so when I got there early that afternoon, alone, I didn't want to use it. Plus, I had loaded up on food in town to go as far as I could in SNP, probably had at least 8-10lbs of food. Later, some SB section hikers showed up. They insisted I (the Big Thru-Hiker) hang my food. Well, never having done it before, you wouldn't believe how embarrassing that was. I got so frustrated trying to get it up there, that I got into a 'yelling' with them about it ( I didn't know the secret of using the strap at the bottom of the food bag as the piece to slip over the bar, yet). Finally, I got it up there, but believe me after about 30mins of balancing that long bar up there, phew! I wasn't laughing. They were sitting in the shelter like two Cheshire Cats at a Cow Milking. Ah, the lessons we learn in Life. KZ@

jlb2012
11-19-2004, 08:30
The approach that I use with the SNP bear poles is to use a 'biner - it slips over the hook relatively easily and is much less frustrating than using the drawstrings on a bag to go over the hook.

weary
11-19-2004, 09:45
I'm still a liberal non-bearbagger after 18 years on the AT. I ain't skeered of no bear! :D

Besides, the only time I ever got ripped off by a bear was one of the few times I had ever hung my food -- other than on the mouse-tuna can things. The bear walked through our camp in Yosemite, five feet from our campfire. It totally ignored us and our pot banging; just kept looking skyward. Once he sighted my food stash, it took him just two minutes to get it down.

No more catering to trained bears for me. Now I just keep my food in my tent or hanging above my head in a shelter.

Weary

Youngblood
11-19-2004, 09:58
Besides, the only time I ever got ripped off by a bear was one of the few times I had ever hung my food -- other than on the mouse-tuna can things. The bear walked through our camp in Yosemite, five feet from our campfire. It totally ignored us and our pot banging; just kept looking skyward. Once he sighted my food stash, it took him just two minutes to get it down.

No more catering to trained bears for me. Now I just keep my food in my tent or hanging above my head in a shelter.

Weary

Weary,

You're liable to get some of the AT thru-hikers in planning confused talking about bears in Yosemite. As a matter of fact you have me a little confused, what would you do in Yosemite and what would you do on the AT regarding securing your food at night? And do you think bear bagging on the AT is a sure fired way to lose your food to bears?

Youngblood

Skyline
11-19-2004, 11:05
Undoubtedly we could get by with less bear-or-critter bagging. Whether pure luck or the absence of a real threat I dunno. But by bear-bagging (either deep in the woods or at a site near a shelter) it's a peace-of-mind thing, one less reason not to get a good night's sleep in my tent.

The Solemates
11-19-2004, 11:12
This must be the 20th time this topic has been discussed on WB. Lets move on...

weary
11-19-2004, 11:25
Weary,

You're liable to get some of the AT thru-hikers in planning confused talking about bears in Yosemite. As a matter of fact you have me a little confused, what would you do in Yosemite and what would you do on the AT regarding securing your food at night? And do you think bear bagging on the AT is a sure fired way to lose your food to bears? Youngblood
I think wild bears are not a problem anywhere. Wild bears dislike to be near humans. Why? Because humans throughout most of history have hunted and killed bears for food and clothing and rugs.

Problem bears are those who have become tame from living in places where humans have stopped killing bears for food, clothing and rugs. Those places are mostly National Parks which operate on the weird principle that it is unnatural to kill wild things, and places like New Jersey, where humans killed off most bears and have enacted no hunting rules in what has turned out to be an overly successful effort to bring bear populations back.

I think my Yosemite experience is pertinent to the trail, because the bears in both places are the same black bear, and because, like in Yosemite, bears are no longer hunted along parts of the trail. The eastern parks are relatively young and bears breed pretty slowly, so bears are only now becoming a problem.

Though bears are increasingly becoming tame, a latent fear of humans remains, even in Yosemite. It is somewhat like the brood of feral cats that I have made the mistake of feeding. They cluster around me looking for food, but they will not let me touch them.

A few rangers in the west recognized the same behavior by bears. Rangers noticed that bears would come close to humans but not too close. Until they were silenced for being politically incorrect, some of them even recommended that hikers keep their food in their tents in bear country.

But based on my experience with feral cats, I see merit in the idea. So I now keep my food in my tent, or hanging above my head in shelters. We shall see how I fare. Call it an experiment. If a bear ignores my reasoning and kills me, I'll try to let you know.

I take heart in the many bear stories I hear these days. I hear a lot of stories about bears attempting to get down hung food, and with making fake charges against lone hikers, apparently trying to get them to drop their packs. But I have never heard of bears entering a crowded shelter and pulling the packs off the mouse hangers.

Weary

Kozmic Zian
11-19-2004, 14:55
The approach that I use with the SNP bear poles is to use a 'biner - it slips over the hook relatively easily and is much less frustrating than using the drawstrings on a bag to go over the hook.
Yea......If your responding to my entry HOI, I didn't say drawstrings, but the bottom strap on MSR stuff sacks that I use for food and clothing. If you slip the pole through the strap and lift the bag up to the hanger, it's easy to slip it over it. Ya don't need no freekin' Biner, mian! KZ@

Youngblood
11-19-2004, 15:33
...I take heart in the many bear stories I hear these days. I hear a lot of stories about bears attempting to get down hung food, and with making fake charges against lone hikers, apparently trying to get them to drop their packs. But I have never heard of bears entering a crowded shelter and pulling the packs off the mouse hangers.

Weary,

Thanks for the response. I've heard a few bear stories that sounded a little exaggerated too, but I do believe that bears are sometimes getting peoples food bags, at least in Georgia. I remember talking to a backpacker a couple of years ago that claimed he saw a bear grab someone's unattended backpack and take off with it. I've also heard a firsthand report that a bear got a foodbag that was 35 feet above ground, ten feet below the branch and 10 feet from the trunk by leaping from the tree and taking the food bag with it on its way to the ground and then getting up and taking off with the food bag. This was a mature woman who swore to me that had happened just that night. I looked at her and asked her how much bear line did she use, she thought about it for a few seconds and said 75 feet. :) So... you have to wonder if all the details are right, but I don't think there is an issue about the food bags disappearing.

Bears are hunted in Georgia, but some of them will visit shelters and well used campsites. Last spring I was hammock camping just downslope of Sassafras Gap about 60 miles north of Springer during thru-hike season. Everyone at the gap had hung their foodbags using tree limbs and cord. I heard something come pass me about three times that night and not at the same location but none of the people at the gap heard anything (anything moving near me had to crunch leaves with every step but this wasn't the case at the gap). Nothing was messed with but some critter was probably looking for the right opportunity.

Youngblood

jlb2012
11-19-2004, 17:09
Yea......If your responding to my entry HOI, I didn't say drawstrings, but the bottom strap on MSR stuff sacks that I use for food and clothing. If you slip the pole through the strap and lift the bag up to the hanger, it's easy to slip it over it. Ya don't need no freekin' Biner, mian! KZ@

Actually I don't use a bag with a draw string or a bottom strap - I use those plastic bags from the supermarket - triple bag. I do this so that if the bags start stinking I just throw them out the next time I have access to new bags. Given that approach the 'biner comes in useful with those remarkable bear poles. Generally I always carry a light weight biner (not heavy enough to climb with) just due to the general usefullness for attaching things to the pack.

These days however the raccoons have wised up to the whole bear pole thing and it is better by far to just hang your food from a tree (or two) than to use the bear poles. Gravel Springs hut in particular has a well known problem with the coons climbing the bear poles and getting into food bags.

Skeemer
11-19-2004, 17:15
Youngblood wrote to Weary:
You're liable to get some of the AT thru-hikers in planning confused talking about bears in Yosemite. As a matter of fact you have me a little confused, what would you do in Yosemite and what would you do on the AT regarding securing your food at night?

Our first night out in Yosemite (on the JMT) a ranger told us two bears had to be destroyed this year alone that became a nuisnace because they were going after backpackers food at a tenting area. I believed her...I don't think she made it up. On the JMT, you are required to put your food in "bear canisters" in the parks...you are not on the AT...that's one difference. I believe it's safe to say the bears have become more aggressive in Yosemite...all you have to do is read some of the JMT journals on trailjournalsto find this out.

So you were right Youngblood, new hikers on the AT could get confused by comments that pertain to Yosemite and the JMT...good point.

Hikes in Rain
10-19-2005, 13:43
Never did, until my first longish solo section hike in Georgia. There I was, first evening after driving up, happy as a clam less than an hour from the trail head, when I heard a crashing of bushes up ahead of me, and noticed that the rapidly moving large black object ahead of me was the south end of a northbound bear. After a couple of minutes, I picked my jaw up off the trail and moved on, mentally reviewing the contents of my pack, wondering if I could suddenly become a food bag hanger.

Cuppa Joe
10-20-2005, 19:29
I loved playing that game :) On my Thru-Hike this year I only bear bagged when there were lines, boxes, or poles provided. Other than that I left my food bag just outside of my tent .. figured the bear could have it if he wanted.

Never had a problem but I realize I could have. So am I advocating not bear bagging? Not in the least! I just got real lazy about it and I could never throw that rock real well :)

weary
10-20-2005, 21:01
Naw. I'm just full of s**t. :)\
WELL, that's certainly true. But L. Wolf is unique in my experience. I've rarely run across anyone expressing such an interesting combination of wisdom and nonsense. The scale is almost in balance, as L.Wolf knows, judging by his comment above.

Weary

Sly
10-20-2005, 21:13
Unless it's mandatory to use bear boxes, canisters, poles or cables, I've always slept with my food, even in griz country.

Alligator
10-20-2005, 21:46
The last time I was out I had a long hiking day and was real tired after eating so I thought, and I kid you not, "Lone Wolf sleeps with his food. I'll just keep it here by my head."

No bears got to it, but some bastard mouse did, THANKS LW:jump .



(In all fairness though, I think LW sleeps in a tent, not a tarp.)

bearbag hanger
10-20-2005, 23:50
I gave up my bear canister during my thru hike, too heavy. I now hang a bear bag most of the time (but that's not where my trail name comes from - I sleep in a hammock).

At one spot I had stopped early and hung my food bag from a tree in the middle of a large open space. A couple of section hikers also stopped there and asked me if it was neccessary to hang a food bag. I told them I thought it was a good idea, but the choice was their's. About 2:00 - 3:00 am I heard them shouting at a raccoon. They had left their food bag on the ground outside their tent. Apparently, the shouting hadn't done much to impress the raccoon and they had to get out of the tent to chase it away.

It's not only bears we have to keep the food away from.

Cookerhiker
10-21-2005, 17:08
I
I take heart in the many bear stories I hear these days. I hear a lot of stories about bears attempting to get down hung food, and with making fake charges against lone hikers, apparently trying to get them to drop their packs. But I have never heard of bears entering a crowded shelter and pulling the packs off the mouse hangers.

Weary
Well, maybe the bears don't go after the food on the mouse hangers, but the mice sure do - in fact, it happened most recently the night I spent about a month ago at Rainbow Stream Leanto. After my sheltermates and I watched the enterprising mice casually stroll down the string, over the tuna can, and onto the packs and bags, I bear-bagged (I guess that's mouse-bagged) the whole pack on a nearby tree- not an easy thing to do in the dark. That did the trick. Of course on the way to the tree, I had to brush the mouse off my shoulder!

And per the shelter registers, many other hikers had problems with mice at this shelter.

Gaiter
02-26-2006, 23:48
a friend of mine taught me this trick, spray your bear bag w/ a taste deterrent so even if they do get it down one lick and their done. I use 'Bitter Apple' most vets, groomers or pet supply stores will have it. Its mostly used for animals who lick themselves excessively, (i groom dogs on the side) I've also used it w/ problem dogs who chew furniture, spray it on there, they'll act like they've just had the most disgusting thing in the world and its perfectly safe for them.
I don't know how good it would be for a long trip though, guess i will put mine in my bouce box this summer.

Frosty
02-27-2006, 00:22
It is my opinion that just like treating or filtering all of our water, we have been scared into always hanging our food and I honestly donít think that either is always necessary. Of course it isn't always necessary. Bear bagging is only necessary on those nights that a bear actually walks into your camp. All the other nights, when no bears come, you needn't bag. Same thing with water. Filtering (or treating) isn't always necessary. It is only water with giardia/viruses/cysts/whatever that need to be treated.

Not treating or bear bagging at all because it rarely is necessary is akin to never wearing seatbelts or carrying auto insurance because you hardly ever get into accidents. Seat belts and insurance are only necessary on the trip in which you actually had an accident.

Tinker
02-27-2006, 00:31
Of course it isn't always necessary. Bear bagging is only necessary on those nights that a bear actually walks into your camp. All the other nights, when no bears come, you needn't bag. Same thing with water. Filtering (or treating) isn't always necessary. It is only water with giardia/viruses/cysts/whatever that need to be treated.

Not treating or bear bagging at all because it rarely is necessary is akin to never wearing seatbelts or carrying auto insurance because you hardly ever get into accidents. Seat belts and insurance are only necessary on the trip in which you actually had an accident.

The voice of wisdom......................

I'm glad I'll be hiking with Frosty. (He's not as fast as I am). :p

Sly
02-27-2006, 11:22
Another thought on bear-bagging vs sleeping with your food. The bag is hung in the breeze with food smells more likely to permiate the air. Sleeping with it, out of the breeze and less likely to be smelt.

Also, since most bears aren't confrontational, they're less likely acquire food if it's being attended and protected.

Everyone knows that trends start in California. Sooner or later you see the "kamikaze bears" diving for food in trees in the East and bear canisters a requirement because people aren't willing to defend what's theirs.

Klezmorim
02-27-2006, 11:39
Another thought on bear-bagging vs sleeping with your food. The bag is hung in the breeze with food smells more likely to permiate the air. Sleeping with it, out of the breeze and less likely to be smelt.
Sounds like a recipe for "How to Get Mauled By a Bear!" This will only further associate shelters with food in bears' minds.


Also, since most bears aren't confrontational, they're less likely acquire food if it's being attended and protected.

Everyone knows that trends start in California. Sooner or later you see the "kamikaze bears" diving for food in trees in the East and bear canisters a requirement because people aren't willing to defend what's theirs.
Been there, done that:

"For Release: Tuesday, August 23, 2005


DEC Regulation to Help Reduce Bear Encounters in High Peaks

Regulation to Require the Use of Bear Resistant Canisters in Eastern Zone

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the adoption of a regulation requiring overnight users in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness Area to use bear resistant canisters for the storage of food, toiletries, and garbage during the period of April 1 through November 30 of each year. The regulation will become effective following publication in the New York State Register tomorrow, August 24, 2005."

Source: http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/press/pressrel/2005/2005102.html

Gray Blazer
02-27-2006, 11:56
I've never eaten food in my tent, no gum or candy, no anything because I thought that would discourage the bears from bothering me. And still one night a bear tried to get in the tent with my wife and me (That's my ex in case my wife is reading this) I yelled and pummelled him and he left leaving a nice tear in my Eureka timberline tent. It still has the patch. The reason we figured he tried to get in was because it was her time of the month, my wife that is.

Sly
02-27-2006, 12:32
Sounds like a recipe for "How to Get Mauled By a Bear!" This will only further associate shelters with food in bears' minds.

Tell it to the 1000's of thru-hikers that have gone before and after me.

SGTdirtman
02-27-2006, 14:20
I use to hang my food way up in the trees thinking you know that way a bear cant get it.... but.... bears climb better than squirrels sometimes so thats kinda pointless

I found this picture pretty funny

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/vbg/showimage.php?i=8471&c=548

Amigi'sLastStand
07-01-2006, 16:20
You'd better be in NJ and NY this year. Or use the boxes provided where applicable.

bfitz
07-01-2006, 16:23
I'm a diabetic, and need to protect my food, as well as have some available at night in case of an emergency, so I sleep with all my food in my tent, to defend it if neccessary. I've got some firecrackers to scare off bears if I need to, but never had a problem...

Spock
07-01-2006, 21:39
Always.
1) Small critters as well as bears can do a lot of damage. And the mouse, rat, chipmunk and racoon problems at shelters are due almost entirely to sloppy food storage.
2) Bears become habituated to easy meals. Even if only a few folks eave food where bears can get it, the bears are guaranteed to return contunually. That's basic animal psychology, the random intermittent reinforcement operant conditioning schedule anyone who ever took behavioral psychology learned about.
3) Hanging a bear line is easier if it is an automatic routine instead of a choice you have to make every night. (It gets easier with practice, too.)

TIDE-HSV
09-05-2006, 10:43
a thread this old and long, but I have a question with a little different twist. I wonder how many use the cables in GSP to hang the entire pack? The reason I ask is that, about ten years ago, a bear took my wife's open and empty pack at Sheep Pen Gap (#13). There might have been some residual food smell, although nothing messy had been in the pack and her food was in a separate bag. It didn't get our bear bag, although it tried hard. It was the biggest bear I've ever seen. In the next week, it had learned how to chew through ropes. After hearing that at the trailhead the next week, I abandoned an attempt to go back in to try again to recover the pack.

In a couple of weeks, we'll be hitting the Icewater shelter and she wants her entire pack hung, because bear activity has been reported in the area. I've tried to tell her that I've been hiking in the Smokies for over thirty years, bear-bagging, only. She tells me lightning can hit twice...

Ewker
09-05-2006, 10:47
I just got back from a weekend trip to the Smokies. When we were at Sugarlands getting our permit the ranger told us to hang everything as the bear were extremely active. We were camping at campsite #49 (Cabin Flats) Never saw a bear but the mice were out.

Creek Dancer
09-05-2006, 11:26
Saw three bears in the SNP this weekend. Woooohooooo! Yup, we hung our food.

MOWGLI
09-05-2006, 11:40
I wonder how many use the cables in GSP to hang the entire pack?

You could probably do this. I wouldn't. In 2004 three packs that were hoisted onto cables were stolen. It was two days after I saw Elwood at Icewater Springs Shelter.

TIDE-HSV
09-05-2006, 11:57
Stolen by bears or two legged culprits?

MOWGLI
09-05-2006, 12:42
Stolen by bears or two legged culprits?

2 legged. Doesn't happen often - but it happens.

Sly
09-05-2006, 12:46
I don't think it's right to hoist entire packs or put them in bear boxes like you see from time to time. Others need to use the methods too, when available or required, and packs take up too much room.

Sly
09-05-2006, 12:50
Saw three bears in the SNP this weekend. Woooohooooo! Yup, we hung our food.

In trees or on the bear poles?

It's only a matter of time before more bears get like Sierra bears and tree hung food is an open invitation to eat!

Footslogger
09-05-2006, 12:57
In trees or on the bear poles?

It's only a matter of time before more bears get like Sierra bears and tree hung food is an open invitation to eat!
==================================

That's a good point and although the Forest Service/Park Service has strung cables and installed poles for hikers convenience along the AT corridor I made a practice of hanging my foodbag elsewhere during my thru for exactly that reason.

To a bear I have to imagine that overhead cable/pole = food

'Slogger

Creek Dancer
09-05-2006, 12:59
In trees or on the bear poles?

It's only a matter of time before more bears get like Sierra bears and tree hung food is an open invitation to eat!

From a bear pole at the shelter and we hung from a tree at the next campsite.

saimyoji
09-06-2006, 17:54
Anyone using the ursack? Reviews?

http://www.ursack.com/catalog.htm

Smile
09-06-2006, 18:11
I hiked with somebody (just can't remember their trail name) who had an ursack that a racoon had gotten into, they weren't too pleased with the purcha$e. But I have never used one, I thought they were pretty heavy and really more appropriate for hiking out west in bear country.

Klezmorim
09-06-2006, 18:31
Anyone using the ursack? Reviews?

http://www.ursack.com/catalog.htm
"Gills" has posted in numerous places on this forum about how a mice chewed into his Ursack during He and his wife's SoBO last year.

I've been using the Ursack and have had no problems. It's lighter than a canister an it collapses as you eat down the contents. The company also has a generous money-back guarantee if a critter *does* manage to gnaw its way into your sack.

saimyoji
09-06-2006, 19:10
"Gills" has posted in numerous places on this forum about how a mice chewed into his Ursack during He and his wife's SoBO last year.

I've been using the Ursack and have had no problems. It's lighter than a canister an it collapses as you eat down the contents. The company also has a generous money-back guarantee if a critter *does* manage to gnaw its way into your sack.

Must have missed "Gills." Did a search in members list but couldn't find him. Does he go by another name? Link? Thanks.

Klezmorim
09-07-2006, 08:27
Must have missed "Gills." Did a search in members list but couldn't find him. Does he go by another name? Link? Thanks.
Sorry 'bout that, I was using his trail name. Try "khaynie" and you should have no problem.