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mrmack

Bears and your food around Glacier Peak

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I'm planning a trip out around Glacier Peak later this summer. What's the prevailing practice in these parts about protecting your food from bears? Bear cannister, hanging, something else?

 

Thanks for any opinions and experiences you can share.

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I have always done the best hang I could manage given the circumstance. If you're in the lower elevations doing more of a backpack trip you can usually find something decent. I do it as much for rodents as for bears. If you're higher up on the glaciers you obviously won't be able to hang...

 

A canister would be overkill IMO.

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Thanks for the tips.

 

More of a backpack trip (Gamma hotsprings) but it may take us above treeline. My default option would be hanging, which I what I've always done in the past (in BC).

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I may regret this later but I don't think bears are that much of a problem. not like in the sierras.

 

the bigger animal to worry about it various small rodents and crows. Having a food bag hanging is a big open invitation for them. they can't resist a backpack laying on the ground.

 

I have never had a problem with simply putting my food bag either between the two sleepers at night and in my sleeping bag during the day.

 

Now if you are eating grilled salmon and trout every night you may need more measures.

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I'll echo what Gene says. If you're going somewhere that bears are not habituated to people, like Glacier, they probably won't come near your or your camp at all. In contrast, if you camp where people have camped before odds are good that the Jays, ravens, and rodents will be waiting for you and eager to raid your stash. Solution: keep it in your tent.

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http://www.nps.gov/noca/learn/nature/bear-safety.htm

 

Truly no offence meant, but leaving food in your tent or sleeping bag during the day is simply lazy. If a bear smells food, it will get to it. Hanging your food properly is easy if the trees allow. If not, get a bear canister or at least a ursack. Canisters are kind of a pain, but so are many other leave no trace practices. Just because something isn't required doesn't mean it is isn't the responsible thing to do.

I spent a few summers living in Holden Village where the bears became habituated to humans and their food. I know the forest service put down at least 2 of them after the first summer. It only takes one bear one food score from a tent.

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I've heard some crazy "bears raiding food" stories from the very well travelled Bowron Lakes circuit up in BC, even when the food was strung up on a wire. They had to install burly metal food storage bins at all the campsites along the circuit.

 

And of course, up in AK they just hang out at the dump.

 

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Ditto on the ursack suggestion. I've carried one for years and think they are well worth the extra weight. Never personally had a bear issue (a friend once watched a bear unsuccessfully try to get into his) - but on a recent I came back into camp to see a marmot attempting to nibble through it. At the very least carry a good thick strong waterproof plastic bag to lock in food odor.

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The examples you provide are cases where messy humans come to the same spot over and over and the bears know good things can be found. In the wilderness, away from frequently used campsites, bears will keep away from you unless you do something really dumb or they are starved or deranged.

 

By all means hang your food if there are trees. The key to avoid attracting bears and other varmints is to avoid smelly items. If you have open smelly foods they're going to attract critters. If everything is closed up, perhaps sealed in airtight bags or containers, you should be fine unless they specifically come looking, which they won't do unless they're conditioned to look for it.

 

I remember one of my early Yosemite trips we went up Snake Dike, starting at the car around 1 am. I'd eaten two muffins out of a 4 pack (the diet of a 20-something) and left 2 on our front seat for our our return. As we were walking away from the car in the parking lot near Curry Village a bear came walking toward us. We stopped. It walked right past us 10 feet away, clearly on his nightly parking lot patrol. I went back and threw the leftover muffins in the trash and put everything else in the bear box before we left for the trail.

 

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The examples you provide are cases where messy humans come to the same spot over and over and the bears know good things can be found. In the wilderness, away from frequently used campsites, bears will keep away from you unless you do something really dumb or they are starved or deranged.

 

Not always true. The example linked is from a super remote area and the couple had a totally clean camp. Never keep your food in the tent and if you're in an area that is known to have bears carry a canister or ursack.

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I agree that areas with large amounts of careless people have the most habituated bear problems and that it is not likely that a careful person who keeps a clean camp in the backcountry will have any bear issues. I just think that it is not that much extra effort to guarantee that a bear will not be greatly rewarded for a quick swipe of the paw to a tent/sleeping bag. Plastic bags cut down on odor, but by no means eliminate it in regards to a bear's sense of smell.

I definitely don't enjoy carrying my canister, but to me, it is worth the inconvenience. Peace of mind and the knowledge that I won't be responsible for habituating a bear.

A Ursack weights under 8 oz and collapses to take up very little room in your pack. While your food might get smashed in an unlikely encounter with a bear, at least the bear will not be rewarded.

Edited by ianv

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The examples you provide are cases where messy humans come to the same spot over and over and the bears know good things can be found. In the wilderness, away from frequently used campsites, bears will keep away from you unless you do something really dumb or they are starved or deranged.

 

Not always true. The example linked is from a super remote area and the couple had a totally clean camp. Never keep your food in the tent and if you're in an area that is known to have bears carry a canister or ursack.

 

 

Glacier Peak Wilderness ain't Alaska.

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Glacier Peak Wilderness ain't Alaska.

Then this proves my point even more. If bears that have no history of interaction with humans come into camp and kill people in a tent then it's more likely it will happen in an area where bears have learned to habituate humans with food.

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There are pretty big behavior differences between Black bears and Grizzly/Brown bears, at least in my experience.

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Personally I try not to leave food in my pack or tent, but not because of bears...because of snafflehounds who might chew through stuff to get at the food.

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Truly no offence meant, but leaving food in your tent or sleeping bag during the day is simply lazy.

 

and at night?

 

personally I sleep with my food and have never had a problem with bears or snaffles. this is in locations where I'm on a glacier or other alpine area with no place to hang food.

 

I carry all my food with me during the day.

 

 

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and at night? personally I sleep with my food and have never had a problem with bears or snaffles. this is in locations where I'm on a glacier or other alpine area with no place to hang food.

On glaciers I sleep with my food. In the alpine I leave my food outside in my ursack with stove etc. stacked on top of it.

 

Another way of looking at it... if a bear scratches at your tent to get food the best possible outcome is that the bear is later killed. To me that's unacceptable - especially given you could spend $50 to ensure that doesn't happen.

 

5548793137_c2f733ed27_b.jpg

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Rad said it right. The people who spend a lot of time in the Cascades know bears are not a problem except in rare instances at camps popular with city-slickers. Bears just want to avoid you. I have hiked and climbed in the N Cascades for more than 30 years, and my Dad more than 60. I know a lot of people who get out in the Cascades frequently, and all over, and not one person I know has ever had a problem with bears getting into their food. Ever. You might have hypothetical explanations, but experience speaks. I don't worry about bears the majority of the time unless I'm in a well-used camp where you get a lot of the sledneck/city-slicker crowd (Beaver Landing comes to mind). That said, I always keep a clean camp. Just use a little common sense and you don't need to worry about it. If a bear comes after my food when I'm using it as a pillow, you can be sure it's already been habituated.

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I agree Tom/Rad, and I think it points to how bears behave differently across the west (sometimes its related to species, sometimes not). I've often been struck by how easy we have it in the Cascades compared to AK, MT, WY, CA, BC, AB, etc. And it isn't because we don't have many bears about.

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and at night?

 

personally I sleep with my food and have never had a problem with bears or snaffles. this is in locations where I'm on a glacier or other alpine area with no place to hang food.

 

I carry all my food with me during the day.

 

 

If your food is with you at all times, at least the bear won't be getting rewarded for messing with a tent/pack. I personally would be nervous on the off chance that a curious bear wanted to investigate, but every bear I have encountered in the Cascades has been easily scared off.

 

Rad said it right. The people who spend a lot of time in the Cascades know bears are not a problem except in rare instances at camps popular with city-slickers. Bears just want to avoid you. I have hiked and climbed in the N Cascades for more than 30 years, and my Dad more than 60. I know a lot of people who get out in the Cascades frequently, and all over, and not one person I know has ever had a problem with bears getting into their food. Ever. You might have hypothetical explanations, but experience speaks. I don't worry about bears the majority of the time unless I'm in a well-used camp where you get a lot of the sledneck/city-slicker crowd (Beaver Landing comes to mind). That said, I always keep a clean camp. Just use a little common sense and you don't need to worry about it. If a bear comes after my food when I'm using it as a pillow, you can be sure it's already been habituated.

 

I have spent/spend plenty of time in the Cascades, and no, I have not had any real bear issues. I still think it is worth it to properly store my food. It isn't that big of an inconvenience. With the growing interest in hiking and backpacking, it won't take too long for bears in the Cascades to start acting like bears in the Sierra. Before Yosemite Valley was an amusement park, the bears in that area were probably just like the bears in Cascades.

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Rad said it right. The people who spend a lot of time in the Cascades know bears are not a problem except in rare instances at camps popular with city-slickers. Bears just want to avoid you. I have hiked and climbed in the N Cascades for more than 30 years, and my Dad more than 60. I know a lot of people who get out in the Cascades frequently, and all over, and not one person I know has ever had a problem with bears getting into their food. Ever. You might have hypothetical explanations, but experience speaks. I don't worry about bears the majority of the time unless I'm in a well-used camp where you get a lot of the sledneck/city-slicker crowd (Beaver Landing comes to mind). That said, I always keep a clean camp. Just use a little common sense and you don't need to worry about it. If a bear comes after my food when I'm using it as a pillow, you can be sure it's already been habituated.

 

Exactly. :tup:

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5548793137_c2f733ed27_b.jpg

 

Weird, I've seen signs JUST LIKE THAT at Lake Ouzel, below the summit of Ruth, on Meany Crest, on the Boston Glacier, in Torment Basin, below the Borealis Glacier, under Pyramid Peak, in upper Horseshoe Basin, ...

 

NOT.

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I agree Tom/Rad, and I think it points to how bears behave differently across the west (sometimes its related to species, sometimes not). I've often been struck by how easy we have it in the Cascades compared to AK, MT, WY, CA, BC, AB, etc. And it isn't because we don't have many bears about.

 

Ditto. Tom, Rad and a few others are speaking from experience, and I share the same conclusions. When camping in the near-treeless alpine (why da fuk camp under treeline on purpose anyway?) you have little other choice anyway. I guess you could carry a portable flag pole...

 

Posting horror stories of Grizzlies in Alaska and using those to generate a hypothetical worst-case for shy black bears in WA wilderness is intellectually lazy.

 

I'm sure those ursacs are great, but I'll stick to not using valuable pack space/weight carrying it. (might be great for critters tho!) You can dance on my grave when I'm killed by a bear sleeping with my unwrapped raw salmon in my tent. :P

 

As for the OP's question, I spend a lot of time in the GP wilderness and have never had an issue with the bears. YMMV, so don't sue me if you have to flee the scene while a bear ransacks your camp. :)

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