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[pct-l] How bears apparantly act
What I have been told is that bears can smell food 4,385 miles off even
through 2 foot steel plate but they have poor eyesite. What I have seen is
bears walking through a campsite looking for food hung from a tree and
apparantly not using their nose at all.
I have camped within 1/2 mile of a heavily frequented campsite and not, to
my knowledge, been visited by bears, then walk through the next morning and
hear harrowing tales of how the bears outsmarted every absolutely perfect
hanging job and bagged the food.
I have heard stories of bear cubs on their mothers backs, about a bear
climbing a tree at one end of a bear cable and vibrating the cable until
the food reaches the other end, then going to the other end to retrieved
the food. Closer questioning, however, reveals these perfect hanging jobs
as BS. They did a poor job. The food was too low, too close to the tree
trunk or the food was accessable from another, lower branch. In almost all
cases, the hanging was poor or the campers forgot some food and had their
pack ripped up or their wasn't enough room in the bear canister or bear box
so the camper decided "What the hell. If the bear gets some food I'll still
be OK". These stories would lead me to conclude that hanging food doesn't
work because people are idiots.
In Yosemite and in the Kearsarge area, however, I have heard a different
story. The bear climbs the tree, climbs out on the limb as far as possible,
then jumps on the limb until either the bag shakes free from the cord or
the limb breaks! This is called "Taking the fall". Obviously, once a bear
is willing to "Take the fall" he will defeat any counterbalancing system.
This story was prevalant in Yosemite along the JMT and PCT trail.
Interestingly, I was camping less than 1/2 mile away, my bear canister in
plain sight less than 100 yards from the trail yet the bear didn't bother
with it [This was in the early days of Bear canisters so I doubt the bear
was familiar with them]. I thus concluded that the modern "with it"
Yosemite bear uses eyesight more than previously reported. I have theirfore
concluded that, in "Bear Alley" the JMT between Donahue Pass and the Valley
and the PCT between Tolumne Meadows to 5 miles past the High Sierra Camp,
bear bagging simply won't work. The intelligent solution for the thru hiker
is to avoid camping in this section with food.
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