Bear Avoidance

posted Apr 23, 2013, 11:15 AM by Paul Wagner
OK. we give in.  We will now give you all the tips you need to avoid problems with bears in the High Sierra.  Pay Close attention:
1.  Stay away from busy campgrounds, lazy people, and anywhere that you see food lying about on the ground.  That includes your own camp, if you are lazy and leave food lying around.
That's it. 
Unfortunately, that's the only tip we have. 
Luckily, it's the only tip you need.  We don't use bear spray (illegal in California National Parks), bear bells, wasp spray, secret bear ointments, voodoo dances, or 357 magnums (also illegal to fire in a National Park)
True, we always use a bear canister, because it's easy, simple and seems to be fool-proof (as well as bear-proof.) That's part of tip #1.  
We understand that other people use a Kevlar sack called the Ur-sack-- We like the fact that Ur-sacks weigh less than our Bear-Vault.  We don't like that they are vulnerable to smaller animals like mice, squirrels, marmots etc. who can chew through them overnight with their sharp tiny teeth.  No thanks.  
And we know that some through-hikers swear by various hanging systems (all of which are illegal in California's National Parks).  We've hung food sacks before, and may well do it again.  But spending time looking for the right tree that is tall enough to hang the bag above the reach of a standing bear, big enough to have branches that will allow you to hang the food out from the trunk to avoid a climbing bear, and safe from baby bears that can climb out on a limb and chew through the ropes....well, we'd rather spend our time fishing, watching the sunset, and enjoying like on the trail instead of looking for the perfect tree.  And then slinging that rope into the tree...oops.  Try again.  Nope, too close to the trunk.  Do it again...
So yes, we use a bear canister.  We are strict about it, and always leave all of our food and smelly toiletries in it.  And we stay away from people who don't do that.  Very simple.
Very sad that other people find it so hard to do. Because the ones who suffer the most are the bears--who become accustomed to hikers as a source of food, and eventually have to be destroyed. 
And that is, indeed, very sad.