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  1. #1
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    Question How concerned do I need to be about bears and smellables?

    Just doing a short trip from Pearisburg to Blan. How concerned do I need to be concerned about bears? Is unscented deodorant still a smellable?

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gstettner View Post
    Just doing a short trip from Pearisburg to Blan. How concerned do I need to be concerned about bears? Is unscented deodorant still a smellable?
    As long as you do a PCT bear hang, or use a bear canister, there is little need to worry about bears. Go ahead and put your deodorant in with your food if you’re not sure it is a smellable, since it takes up little room.

  3. #3
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    Pearisburg to Bland is just a couple of days. I don't carry deodorant for a short trip like that. Or a medium trip, for that matter. Heck, everybody on the trail smells, to some degree, as do their packs.

  4. #4
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    More than anything, bears want to avoid humans. Given their legendary sense of smell, your best bear repellent is to smell like a human, so not using deodorant is a good idea.

  5. #5
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    I seem to remember at one point, there was a multiyear problem at a campsite just north of Pearisburg with agressive bears to the point where they had to close it. If Bears gat habituated to food at a campsite, they are going to be a problem no matter how many nights you are out.

  6. #6
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    Exclamation Concerns about bears

    Depends what you mean by "concerned."
    If you mean, "Do I have to make certain that I don't teach a bear that humans mean easy food?", that's true on every kilometer of The Trail. That concern means you MUST make it as difficult as practical for a bear to eat any of your food. If you fail to do so, then two things happen: (1) you'll have to go without your food and (2) the bear will eventually be killed. Remember the slogan, "A fed bear is a dead bear."
    If you instead mean, "Should I worry about a bear attack?", just know that I've done some order of magnitude calculations, and determined the following: if you drive 150 kilometers to a trailhead, and then go hiking in bear territory (like Shenandoah or the Smokies), you're not only more likely to die in a car crash than a bear attack, you're more likely to die in a crash with a Tesla! When I first did this calculation, I found the car could be a Yugo, but they're now about as rare as fatalities from black bears.
    So drive defensively when you go to the trail head, and be "Bear Aware" when on the trail. Just remember this fact about dangers: even if your death doesn't make national headlines, you're still dead!

  7. #7
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    Default Reply: Bears on Trail

    I would take all necessary precautions. When I started my thru-hike in 2019; a park ranger gave us a tutorial before issuing our AT thru hiker tags. Bears are usually non aggressive to humans unless they smell your food stash. With the commercialization of the trail and the sporting goods stores trying to make a sport out of the hike; It has become easier to hike the trail with out carrying food. The longest that I have had to go on trail without eating food is two days. There are just so many places that you can buy food, eat it, and dispose of trash properly that I have found that I don't carry food much at all anymore.

    As for "smellables"; Deodorant, tooth paste, ointments, salves, liquid bug spray . . . These all add pack out weight. If you have hiked for any length of time then you know that you are going to stink. What can you do about it? Nothing. There is no deodorant that can take the stink off. Instead of carrying deodorant and tooth paste, try out good old fashioned baking soda. It goes a lot further and doesn't attract the wild life. Ointments or salves are usually carried in first aid kits and should be drastically limited to only essentials. Consider that some items have a dual purpose. Example: Alcohol can be used for a stove but also could be used for first aid antiseptic. This eliminates the need to carry other first aid ointments. They have a new invention on the market that repels mosquitos with out the need for any liquid repellents. This may be a better option than bug sprays and creams. It is also dual purpose and serves as a lighting system.

    At the end of the day .... You hiked your own hike so do what works for you. Experienced hiker advice is great but what you do may be completely different. Just because we have experience doesn't mean we know it all.

  8. #8
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    Has anyone had a close encounter with bears on this part of the trail?

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