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[pct-l] Back Country Bad Bear Behavior

I hate to keep bringing this up BUT.......

I would have carried one 1 pound 12 ounce canister for my food on the entire
12 days and not needed resupply! This year I carried 8 days and the can was
1bout 1/2 full and I didn't try.


-----Original Message-----
From: David Duncan [mailto:dduncan@oregonsbest.com]
Sent: Friday, November 01, 2002 12:40 PM
To: pct-l
Subject: [pct-l] Back Country Bad Bear Behavior

We did the JMT in September of this year.  After reviewing all available
information on the net, we decided to rent bear canisters rather than
mess with hanging food and pretending we had canisters when we crossed
the areas where they were required.

Due to expense, we purchased one Garcia canister, which we used for
planning purposes.  Our big resupply was at Muir Trail Ranch, and we
shipped this canister  to MTR.

We figured we needed six canisters for three people to fully protect ALL
of our food and toiletry items for the 12 days from MTR to Whitney
Portal. We rented 5 canisters at the Wilderness Office in Yosemite
Village (same place you go to to get your permit).  The rental rate was
$5.00 for two weeks, and $10.00 for longer than two weeks, per
canister.  They had an ample supply of canisters stored behind the

>From Yosemite Valley to Reds Meadows, we used two bear canisters--the
others we left in our car at the Minaret Shuttle parking lot at Mammoth

>From Reds Meadows to Muir Trail Ranch we carried five canisters, and
from Muir Trail Ranch to Whitney Portal we carried six.  At the MTR
resupply, our food DID NOT FIT, even in six canisters, so all the low
density stuff (crackers primarily) got triple wrapped in our emergency
pack covers (garbage bags).  Since we figured bears would get a food
hang anyway, we simply stacked three canisters on top of each other, and
put the package of crackers on top to frustrate the mini and micro bears
(worked well).

Well, that was a lot of plastic, so we were very dissappointed to not
see a bear at all the whole trip.  The closest we got was a lot of
yelling and screaming after dark at Little Yosemite Valley the first
night.  We pulled in early, ate early, and were already toasty in our
bags and tent when the commotion started, so we missed out on our one

One good thing about bear canisters is that if you tie one outside your
pack at the bottom, it will form a nice base so that your pack will free
stand instead of falling over all the time.  Another good thing is that
enough people seem to be using the canisters that bears weren't
bothering backpackers.  During the rest of the trip we talked to only
two people who had even seen bears--and they did not lose any food. We
did hear that bears were  harassing campers in car-camping campgrounds,
including the camp ground adjacent to Vermillion Valley Resort.

For me, if using canisters means that the bears leave us and our food
alone, its worth it.  And I say this after carrying three Garcias 170
miles from Reds Meadows to Whitney Portal (that's 8 lbs, 1 oz of bear
canister) and not seeing a bear.  Nobody needs the risk of a bear
ripping up their tent and gear, or cutting short their trip because they
lost their food.

I think that the increased enforcement of the bear canister regulation
reflects the fact that the rangers  see the canisters as effective--that
things are getting better in terms of bear bad behavior in the
backcountry.   If I am correct, the logical outcome will be that
canisters are required in more areas and enforcement will be more


Dave Duncan

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