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Re: [pct-l] Bear Resistant Food Canister Sale

"Nathan Martin" <NCMartin@lbl.gov> wrote:

>I never really got the full scoop. Do thru-hikers
>need to carry a bear cannister in certain sections
>of CA? 

I've been trying to get straight answers about this for a while with no
luck. Sorry there is no short answer yet. The PCTA is working to clarify
this. I hope they have the pull to actually get some answers. Here is what
I know.

Last fall Sequoia Kings National Park (SE/KI) invoked emergency powers to
require bear resistant canisters along the PCT near Kearsarge pass. I asked
for a specific map from the guy in charge of the SE/KI park, but never got
one. The emergency order expires at the end of this year, but they may
issue another one. The process of getting a permanent order is a bit longer
and more complicated, and SE/KI is revising their wilderness policy anyway,
so they may just be waiting for new regulations to come into effect. I know
that bear cans were on the agenda.

Inyo NF issued an order requiring "proper food storage"  using a bear can
or "other method." This was kind of stupid, because it is already illegal
to allow the bears to get your food. The Mt Whitney Ranger Station started
enforcing a "bear cans required" policy in Kearsarge pass using this order
as a justification, by saying that there was no "other method" that worked.
I queried the MW Ranger station, the forest HQ, and regional HQ about this,
and have received strange answers. 

The Mt. Whitney ranger station answered with hand written notes scribbled
on odd pieces of paper - I would expect a response on letterhead. The
forest HQ merely produced a copy of the order but did not answer when I
asked about "other methods." The guy at the Regional office seems to be
evasive. We've been pinging on him since September to sort this out, but he
just may be too busy to get an answer from Inyo. (Who knows? he may be
getting the same treatment I am.)

This leads me to believe that there is an internal political struggle going
on. It could also mean that somebody overstepped their authority, and the
forest is trying to keep from getting in trouble.

Yosemite started the season requiring cans, then backed off to "strongly
recommending" them, so I think somebody overstepped their authority there too.

"Nathan Martin" <NCMartin@lbl.gov> also wrote:
>(Or is it a legal requirement which we can chose to follow or risk paying
a fine?)

I think this applies to all laws. <grin>

In reality the important thing it to keep the bears from getting your food.
It's terrible for the bears and it's bad for you. If you feel more
comfortable using a bear can, then by all means use one. It simplifies
making camp, but requires spending an extra 100 bucks and carrying an extra

IMHO, S->N through hikers are not that likely to be bothered by bears (or
Rangers) if they are careful. 

First off, you are through the problem areas where the habituated bears
frequent very early in the season. The bears don't start raiding the
campsites till they get full of backpackers, which probably won't happen
till a month after you go through. When you go through SE/KI, the
Backcountry Rangers probably won't even be deployed yet; the only place you
might meet someone who'd hassle you is at the trailhead.

Second, if you don't camp in the popular areas and don't eat where you
sleep, you'll probably be OK even later in the season. If you do camp in
the popular areas in SE/KI, most of them have steel "bear boxes" anyway
(see http://www.gorp.com/pcta/bearbox.txt for a list). Inyo has chosen to
remove all the bear boxes from their land, so you won't find any between
SE/KI and Yosemite. Avoid camping between the south boundary of Yosemite NP
(Dohahue Pass) and Toulomne Meadows without a bear can. This is Lyell
Canyon and it is famous for its bear problem and AFAIK there are no bear
boxes on this stretch.

Once again, all this is IMHO, and we don't need to start another flame war
over this. We all firmly believe it is important to keep our food away from
the bears and I'm only trying to answer a question concerning the legal
stuff here.

Brick Robbins                       Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler!
mailto:brick@fastpack.com        http://www.fastpack.com/brick 

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