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[pct-l] Resupply strategies, bears, and stars

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Hi PCTers!
     Here's some thoughts on several recent threads:  Resupply
strategies, keeping food away from bears, and watching the stars.
     Most would agree that having a good home contact for resupply is
ideal.  I had the best possible home contact for the 2nd half of my
trip.  My father, who hiked the first 1200 miles with me, packed all
my resupply boxes for the 2nd half.  For the first half, we packed the
boxes beforehand, and left them unsealed.  This allowed many change
requests to be accomodated.  Since my home is California's Bay Area, I
didn't even need a drift box.  I'd just have stuff added to my
resupply boxes as I needed it.
     Many PCTers live farther away.  Postage cost and shipping time
make other strategies better for them.  Several AT veterans from the
east coast had only their dinners mailed.  The non-cooked meals were
easy enough to supply in many towns.  For remote stops, they'd mail
ahead boxes from a real town.
     A few die hard hitch hikers had no resupply boxes at all.  They'd
hitch as far as necessary to get to a real grocery store.  Because
this was inconvenient, these people often carried more days food than
I did.
     A lighter variation of the no-box method is to "Yogi" food.  Many
well supplied, careful planners consistently have extra food.  When
the new box arrives, they dump leftovers into the hiker boxes.  Even
on the trail, some hikers will find they have a little more food than
they thought they'd need.  Since it's a very bad idea to leave food in
the wilderness, these hikers are glad to lighten their packs a day or
two before the next resupply.  However, I don't recommend this
strategy because it's unreliable and reduces the options of those who
accidently miss a resupply box.
     Keeping food away from bears is VERY important.  Truely wild
bears, like wild squirrels, will not come near humans.  But we all
know that squirrels at your local city park are fed regularly and lose
their fear of humans.  Bears are _much_ smarter than squirrels and
much more of a problem.  Anywhere food is regularly available, bears
quickly learn to visit.  For this reason it is extremely important not
to feed bears, intentionally or otherwise.  Problem bears eventually
learn to physically intimidate people to get food.  Such bears are
killed, even in National Parks!  So every time a bear gets some of our
food, we are contributing to this sad end.  For this reason, it is now
mandatory to properly store food in all three National Parks in the
Seirra.  (Sequoia, King's Canyon, and Yosemite)  Backpackers are
required to use bear boxes, bear polls, bear canisters, or hang food
using the counter balance method.  Violators are fined.  Yosemite now
reports that the counter balance method does not work reliably.  I can
confirm this from personal experience at Glen Aulin on my '97 PCT
hike.  A BIG bear climbed the tree and "sawed" off the limb from which
the food was hanging.  For all these reasons, PLEASE be extra careful
with food while in the National Parks, especially Yosemite.
     As an amateur astronomer, I particularly enjoyed watching the
stars on my hike.  Polaris, the north star, takes on particular
significance as it points the way to Canada.  From Campo, it's
significantly closer to the horizon than the zenith.  In northern
Oregon we cross the 45th parallel, where the north star is half way in
between, and by journey's end it's noticably closer to the zenith than
the horizon.  It's quite a thrill to be walking far enough on the
Earth's curved surface to see movement in the stars!

Brian Robinson
PCT '97
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