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[pct-l] Observations and thoughts about bears on the PCT

The question a few weeks ago about my rock bear hang prompted me to put down
my thoughts about bears on the PCT.

What I noticed about deer and bears is that if they are hunted in the area
you are in, they will run away from you.  If they are not hunted, they are
much more natural.  In the National Parks, it's nice to be treated by the
animals like just another animal.  It's not as idealistic as I just made it
sound, but I think there are threads of truth to it.  What do others think?

It also seems to me that there are different levels of sophistication with
regard to bears' attempts to get human food.  This time it's the National
Parks that create unnatural behavior and foster sophisticated bears.  I've
even heard that mother bears teach their cubs how to read words, like
Coleman, Playmate, and Igloo, through car windows.
Jokes aside, I believe where you are on the trail can help you determine the
amount of bear protection you need to afford your food.  A sophisticated
counter-balanced bear hang is probably only necessary where you have
sophisticated bears, like Yosemite.  The simpler system with a rope tied off
to the side could work in most other bear situations.

I mostly critter hung my food, which is just getting off the ground and out
of jumping height of small rodents.  I didn't have any bear encounters with
my food.  I know others did, but I don't know the circumstances.

All this is said with the following assumptions:
You use stealth camping techniques:
-You are not camped in a widely used spot
-You are not camped near water, like a lake or river
-You did not cook in your camp

In addition:
-You are not carrying really smelly stuff, like fresh meat
-You are hiking the PCT "in-season" (California May-July, Oregon in August,
Washington in September)

With those assumptions listed, I'll say that I weighed my nightly risk based
on my perception of bear sophistication.  In Washington, I almost always
slept in established campsites and just did a critter hang with my food.
Additionally, in Washington I got in with a crowd of rebels that liked to
cook in camp.  At first I was uneasy, but night after night brought no
bears, so I stopped worrying about it.

Another part of avoiding bear encounters is the nature of the season the
year you are hiking.  If you are early through the Sierra when it's cold and
there's no natural food for them, then they are probably not at that
elevation yet.
Three more tips:
DO NOT camp in Vidette Meadow or the general Bubbs Creek area.  Later in the
summer, this area is full of inexperienced campers.
Camp cautiously near 1,000 Island Lakes or the surrounding lakes.
DO NOT camp in Lyell Canyon on the way to Tuolumne.
This means planning your days to hit a better spot on the day you'll be
there. For example, instead of camping in Vidette Meadows, plan to continue
past Bull Frog Lake, then camp.  While no area is guaranteed to be
bear-free, there are lower risk areas.

John B./Cupcake