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  1. #21
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Hanging food on the bear cables in GSMNP isn't going protect your food from the mice... They climb the bear cables.

  2. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Strategic View Post
    It's all about the trade-offs. It is becoming more critical to protect your food along the AT, so some attention to it is certainly good. If you find hanging inconvenient and don't mind the weight, then a canister is a good idea. Bearikades do have a good reputation, so you'll probably do fine with one. It may actually become a requirement for certain sections if rumors currently circulating are true (GSMNP, for instance) so you might just be ahead of the curve.
    They'll be a certain percentage of ATers who find the Bearikade's wt and hard sided inflexible bulk inconvenient compared to other food safety measures. Heck, there are UL foldable chairs that weigh less than 1/2 the wt and certainly less bulky than a Bearikade. AT shelters provide places to squat and infinite number of logs, stumps and rocks.

    How about making entire packs bear proof? And hanging them or tying off like an Ursack? Pack wt goes up but overall if bear proof measures are required still lighter wt for the kit than a separate canister and pack? This way when TW falls with his 120lb ultra loader it's not only bear proof but Tipi falling on acorns proof? He can have entire BS Troops sit on his circus tent of a pack and not damage his Hilleberg Hotel or 30 lb avocados.

    Getting ahead of myself... This will be interesting to witness whom and how they attempt to enforce canister laws when backcountry authorities are already spread thin or non existent and budgets sorely stretched Casper thin. Dont see any sign of that reversing direction particularly with the current powers that be with their focus only on the economy and big biz known approach while hollowing out the EPA. Is this enforcement duty going to fall on ridge runners and AT shelter maintenance folk to which many on WB have already balked? Same with quotas, GSMNP regs, permit verification, hostel rules, disregarding fire bans and approaching wildlife at legally minimal distances, BSP regs, trail town AT hiker conduct, and other scammer me me me I I I mined mine mine behavior blah blah blah. In Glacier CGs if you walk away from your food left on a table you get fined or at least a good scolding. What happens when that DOES happen on the AT with little to no enforcement? Do we each than get to Orwellian smack each other in the back of the head wearing Naval Academy class rings?

    Who here has had a VT bear issue? On the AT or LT? I assumed bear hunting would increase in VT if only temp with that state's goal of reducing the bear pop to 4500-6000 to make room for more human activity(encroachment) and ignorance. Currently it's estimated near 7k last I checked. Attempts at stabilizing the bear pop can't truly happen unless we're talking about an ever downward spiraling sliding scale for the bear pop until VT becomes "bear problem" free ie; has no or so few bears, and unless the human pop stabilizes. I don't see that happening with the human pop.

    Other night on Nat Geo I heard total global wildlife numbers have been slashed in half over the last 40-50 yrs. If that's accurate - The age of extinction? Humans not yet included. Tues night rant over.

  3. #23
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    Nothing like adding two pounds to your pack for...reasons?

    If you really want to carry a can then more power to you. I donít know your experience level but Iíve thruíd twice and Iíd bet money that youíll get rid of the can before Virginia.

    If youíre committed to avoiding bears then honestly hanging a bear bag takes minutes; I canít imagine trading that for two whole pounds. Most hikers keep their food in their tents. For what itís worth the only bear bag issues I saw were from horribly hung bags - youíd be shocked how poorly people will do it. Like right on a tree or off a branch 5 feet high. One lady yelled at me for not hanging one then hung hers 10 feet from my hammock low enough for me to use as a punching bag. But I digress.

    Most shelters in Georgia have bear cables. Iíd start with a normal food bag and by the time youíre further north youíll know what youíll want to do. Or start with the can of it gives you peace of mind and send it home whenever you decide.

  4. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shrewd View Post
    Nothing like adding two pounds to your pack for...reasons?

    It makes a nice chair and when filled with ice can cool the T Bones, 6 pack, and 1 lb of butter...maybe some room for a lb or two of BACON. Butter fried bacon Um Um

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shrewd View Post
    Nothing like adding two pounds to your pack for...reasons?

    If you really want to carry a can then more power to you. I don’t know your experience level but I’ve thru’d twice and I’d bet money that you’ll get rid of the can before Virginia.

    If you’re committed to avoiding bears then honestly hanging a bear bag takes minutes; I can’t imagine trading that for two whole pounds.
    Congratulations on avoiding bear issues on not one, but two thru hikes! Lots of people manage to do this. Lots of people manage to complete the A.T. without contracting Lyme disease, too, but does that mean we should ignore taking precautions against tick bites?

    Of course no one "wants" to carry a canister. They are bulky and heavy. Heck, if I could get by without carrying food and water I would love to lose that weight in my pack, too! But there are some very good reasons for carrying a canister. As you mentioned there are lots of horribly hung food bags. I saw it every day. But once a bear has figured out what a bear hang is, even the best hang is easy pickings. So to borrow your phrase, "for what it's worth": just because you have yet to encounter habituated bears able to game hangs, does not mean they don't exist.

    You are correct that a bear hang takes minutes. Sometimes a LOT of minutes. Given the perfect limb, the proper distance from the campsite, with little undergrowth to interfere, good weather, daylight, etc., some hikers still struggle with successful hangs. In many places on the A.T. it is impossible to find trees suitable for a hang even with the two tree method.

    For 500 miles I hung my food and did it right, though it was a challenging, time consuming task. After multiple encounters with habituated bears in NC and VA I started carrying a canister. Problem solved for the rest of my thru hike. I now consider my canister as essential as the food within.

    If the OP is serious about protecting food on the trail, even the best bear hangs are risky. Even if not mandated, a canister is worth consideration.

  6. #26

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    Make it a diversion. Drop an unwrapped Butter Finger in it. While the bears figure out how to get at it tip toe backwards the other direction with your chow. Make sure you're the fastest in your retreating group that slowly backs away. It helps to untie the slowest hiker's laces and shmear some PB on their arse.

  7. #27
    13-45 Section Hiker Trash
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slumgum View Post
    You are correct that a bear hang takes minutes. Sometimes a LOT of minutes. Given the perfect limb, the proper distance from the campsite, with little undergrowth to interfere, good weather, daylight, etc., some hikers still struggle with successful hangs. In many places on the A.T. it is impossible to find trees suitable for a hang even with the two tree method.


    For 500 miles I hung my food and did it right, though it was a challenging, time consuming task. After multiple encounters with habituated bears in NC and VA I started carrying a canister. Problem solved for the rest of my thru hike. I now consider my canister as essential as the food within.


    If the OP is serious about protecting food on the trail, even the best bear hangs are risky. Even if not mandated, a canister is worth consideration.
    This^

    Nice post with great advice and accurate facts not often discussed. It's great to say "do a hang" and tell everyone on the internet to do the same thing, but this isn't how things are actually being done out on the trail. In 13 years of section hiking I can probably count on one hand the amount of proper food hangs I saw, and this is from camping out on the trail for the equivalent of about 6 months and seeing hangs done on the majority of the nights I was out.


    People just don't hang their food properly in real life, and doing a proper hang is hard...it sometimes takes time to find the right tree/branch and it takes skill to run a line. Throw in being tired, pouring rain and other factors and it can sometimes be a downright tough task to complete. Most people aren't going to learn this skill and probably don't know or care bout it.


    Anyway, I applaud anyone that is willing to carry a canister as I think canisters are going to eventually eliminate a lot of the bear issues in the future. And as always I must provide the disclaimer that I carry a canister, and I'm a recovering hanger and food in the tent guy.
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
    JMT: 2013

  8. #28

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    We should be talking about protecting the bears. The one raiding Goddard Shelter in VT was shot after it could no longer be frightened away. No suitable trees in the area to hang from (not unusual in NE), and I’ve seen lots of substandard hangs. If you’re serious about respecting the Trails’s resources, you use a canister. It’s you who are the visitor. Two pounds is pretty minor if you think about how much base weights have dropped over the past decade or so. Plenty of thruhikers made it before lightweight tents, packs and stoves came along.

    Cosmo

  9. #29
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    Not applicable to the cannister the OP suggested but Note worthy in portions of the Adirondacks they've suggested not using the BV450 or BV500 because the Bears have figured out how to open them. This was listed on the NYS . Gov site.
    Lad I don't know where you've been. But, I see you won first prize!

  10. #30
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by pure_mahem View Post
    Not applicable to the cannister the OP suggested but Note worthy in portions of the Adirondacks they've suggested not using the BV450 or BV500 because the Bears have figured out how to open them. This was listed on the NYS . Gov site.
    Is this still an issue?

    I know about 10 years ago, there was a bear named Yellow-Yellow that had learned how to defeat the Bear Vaults. I also know that at the time there was concern that she would teach this skill to her cubs.

    But Yellow-Yellow was killed by a hunter about 7 years ago. A news article about Yellow-Yellow had a link to where they said Bear Vault "still had a disclaimer" about the Adirondaks, but the link no longer takes you to a BV disclaimer page.

    Enough time should have since passed to determine if Yellow-Yellow taught her skills to any other bears. But I can't find any up-to-date information if BearVaults continue to be defeated since the death of Yellow-Yellow.

  11. #31

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    It's a misconception that using a bear canister in and of itself is bear proofing food. It is not.

  12. #32
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    It's a misconception that using a bear canister in and of itself is bear proofing food. It is not.
    Yeah, for starter, they are NOT bear "proof", even when used correctly. Just check out a bear canister website, like the home page of Bear Vault... "Bear Resistant Food Canisters".

  13. #33

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    If there is a one-size-fits-all mitigation technique with respect to bear habituation, I've yet to see it. Canister use makes some sense in this regard, though canisters alone won't do the trick in and of themselves. The adage, "Ignorance can be cured, it's stupid that's forever" applies to this issue. Given the amount of information available today, in more media formats than ever before on this topic, there is little excuse beyond willful ignorance or simply not caring about habituation prevention. This paves the way for mandated use of canisters as a last resort in areas where bear habituation is high due to human activity.

    The solution to this issue really is with those who understand it and are able to translate it to people who don't when circumstances present the opportunity. The casual tossing of food scraps at camping areas claiming "Its good for the wildlife' or "it's organic", and leaving food unattended (both in or out of packs) that attract animals are the most common behaviors I see that can be cured with education. However, few want to be "that guy" who lectures others on how to camp, even when that reluctance translates into creating and eventual killing of habituated bears.

    Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us", which is an accurate truism with regard to those who insist in engaging behavior that habituates bears. Though correcting the behavior of uncaring people may not be possible, in this instance, "We have met the cure, and it is us" would be a more accurate adage toward the reduction of ignorance. Helping someone figure out how to properly hang their food, food preparation, and disposal of unconsumed food scraps does not take a lot of time and for many people will be remembered (and likely passed along) for the balance of their hiking lives. When I was young in my hiking career, "Can I show you something?" was a sentence that I would hear occasionally and started a conversation that provided a wealth of information or demonstrations of techniques new to me that made a difference. I have always been grateful to those who took the time to help me understand something or master a technique, which my guess is everyone here has had those experiences, on both the receiving and delivery side.

    Shaking one's head and walking away does little to remedy the problem, conversely it allows its growth and creates the need for mandated use of bear canisters.

  14. #34
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    The heck with bears, you really need a way to mouse-proof your food.
    When I'm going places where bears aren't an issue, I put my food in a plastic pretzel jug. Great protection from mice, bugs, and weather.

  15. #35

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    Nicely said, Traveller.

    Generally, managers consider things a success when about 80% of visitors follow a regulation. There is also an art in starting a conversation that will have a reasonable chance of productive outcome. Ridgerunners and other outdoor leaders are trained in starting and nourishing conversations that will help people become more skilled stewards of the resource they are enjoying, but there will always be folks who for a variety of reasons can't make the change.

    Trail managers have a variety of choices when responding to incidents of bears and other critters getting into human food. Traditionally, education has been the first response, working with hikers to help them understand the issue and learn skills to mitigate the problem. This has been ongoing for a couple of decades, and has been more or less successful on the AT, mostly because there has been relatively little contact between bears and hikers. Recently, the frequency has been noticeably increasing (perhaps due to a larger number of hikers, but also likely a result of an increase in quality bear habitat with growing protections of Trail lands). Trail clubs and their land managers have turned to adding infrastructure (bear poles, cables, boxes) in an effort to protect the bears, to "train" them that seeking human food is not worth the effort, and to expend their calories seeking natural food sources. Of course, this works only if the methods used are nearly 100% successful. It's been shown time and again that hikers cannot reliably hang their food (due to skills, time, equipment or appropriate trees).

    As we seem to be reaching the end of what education alone can accomplish, the question managers face is whether to continue to add infrastructure (and concurrent increases in maintenance, and reductions in "wilderness") to AT overnight sites, or to ask hikers to assume a measure of responsibility for protecting the resource. At present about 40% of AT overnight sites have some form of infrastructure to protect animals from getting to human food--usually in responses to incidents.

    Should we spend the human and cash resources (and further degrade the wilderness experience) to provide more convenience for hikers? i think maybe it's time that hikers do their share. Gear is light enough now that the additional weight of a canister is manageable. Yes, there are some concerns that long-distance hikers could have problems getting enough calories into a canister for reasonable resupply options--but they are not the majority of AT overnight visitors. I urge hikers to try out a canister. Like everything else, they take some adjustment, but they work pretty well--not just for bears, but also deterring other critters interested in your food.

    Cosmo

  16. #36
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    Nicely said, Cosmo and Traveler!

    Iím use an Ursack up here in Ontario, where bears arenít broadly habituated to hikers and food. Iím considering a switch to a canister, though most of my hiking is through areas with only widespread bear populations.


    Traillium
    Ontario, Canada

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  18. #38
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    Just ordered a BV from Backcountry. 25% off for Black Friday and free shipping.
    More walking, less talking.

  19. #39
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    Got a BV500 for 20% off the other day from REI.

    There's no wilderness on the majority of eastern seaboard of the US anymore, the AT is..
    .almost a path between suburbs with millions of visitors each year...so I'll carry the BV to help preserve what little wilderness and wildlife we have left.

  20. #40

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    Traveler, you got to where I was aiming. It's not simply another piece of gear that solves the human problem around bears. It is humans, the supposedly more highly developed species, that needs to behave differently. Indeed, land MNGRs do expect humans to adjust their behavior even if it has to be legally demanded.

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