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[pct-l] bears Re: pct-l-digest V1 #878

Re: pct-l-digest V1 #878
>there are no list members who have had food swiped by >bears.
>I have a feeling that the victims are inexperienced >weekenders, not serious backpackers. The fact that no one >here seems to have had a problem tells me that the type >of people who self-select onto this list are less likely >to get their food swiped.

Brick, announcing that food-losers are basically lower on the food chain likely guarantees that no pct-l subscriber will publicly admit to losing food!:-) There's pride, ego, whatever tied up in the experienced backpacker image, especially when hikers keep being divided into classes. We all know it's one thing to make a joke out of forgetting matches or making a compass error, but it's 100% uncool and illegal to feed bears. Nobody wants to be branded a doofus, or risk a citation.

Privately exchanged trip reports, however, contain embarrassed mentions of losing food and other mistakes that supposedly only "weekenders" make, but it's creepy to rat on people. Previous posts to the list gave FS documentation of highly experienced backcountry users feeding bears. What about the infamous Center Basin episode, that caused emergency bear canister regulations in the Sierra?

Only a couple of us imagine that subscribing to the PCT-L is a form of Darwinian selection. There's nothing elite about signing up to get free  mail on the internet, and a superior self-image doesn't protect your food from bears, or place you above the law. A bear looking for food isn't interested in why or how long the supplier is passing through bear country, or the kinds of backpacks he usually does.

Maybe it would help to give a working definition of "experienced". I bet we don't all mean the same thing. Does a long summer trailwalk garner more  experience-points than an off-trail high altitude winter weekend climb? Does one year of hard knocks in rough country count for less than a couple camping trips taken over a span of twenty years? Are solo hikers more highly evolved, even if their trips are "easy"? And what makes a hike difficult? Is the number of summits more important than the actual quality of the mountain?  

Are two nights weathering driving rain in a $600 tent more or less "experience" than two hours spent huddling under a skimpy bush? If you carry a stove, do you lose out on fire-building experience? What wilderness disasters do we need to experience and overcome (or is it ok to just survive?:-)? Avalanche? Broken bones? Bear maulings? Stomach upsets? Rain? Loneliness? 
Maybe hikers who screw up qualify as more experienced, since they have had more opportunities to learn. OTOH, what if they don't learn, but repeat errors out of prideful ignorance aided by good luck? Is a guy who calls himself "experienced" more highly evolved than someone who is modest? Does taking yourself awful seriously make you a serious backpacker, while a lighthearted skilled person is just a goof? Have I made a point here?
             Sue     with a little help from my friends ;-)

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