Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: geotrouvetout67 on September 24, 2019, 09:48:54 pm

 
Title: Bears
Post by: geotrouvetout67 on September 24, 2019, 09:48:54 pm
When bikepacking in bear country, especially when you camp, cook and not able to dispose of your trash until the next town, how do you deal with this risk?
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: John Nettles on September 25, 2019, 12:34:53 am
This is what I do when I am camping in the wild, i.e. national forest, etc. where bears (any kind) are common.

First, I never ever eat, brush my teeth, etc. in my tent. I also keep my clothes in the pannier on the bike overnight so there is as little smellables as possible inside the tent.

Second, I do not cook within a mile or so of my tent.  I cook and eat my dinner before I finish the ride for the day.  It is usually by some water source so I can wash my bowl, pot, utensils, to save on the clean water. I eat then ride a few miles or more down the road before calling it a day. For breakfast and lunch, I am not as concerned as I am awake and will be moving on shortly.

Third, I try to buy one-use foods so the unused are sealed.  I guess an unopened can of tuna is smellable, but I figure that is better than a opened jar of peanut butter.  I also keep my opened food (tortillas, ramen, etc.) in "bear proof" recloseable bags that supposedly seal in the smells.  I forgot the name but have not critters find it, yet. They are not regular zip-lock bags but special "bear bags". 

Fourth, I keep my food about 30+ feet from my tent.  I try to hang it but rarely get a tree which branches are not reachable, the bear can't climb the tree(s), and/or I can reach the rope with the 50' of paracord I bring.  It is usually just left hanging so the little/medium critters do not get it.

Fifth, I sleep with the bear can near by.

Sixth, I try to camp in an area others have camped in or near a place someone could easily see me so that if the bear does like the taste of me over tortillas, hopefully someone will find my bike and my wife can cash in the insurance policy.

Seventh, honestly, I bury my trash.  Rarely is it something that will take a long-time to breakdown, i.e. paper, thin plastic wrap, steel cans, etc.  For that which takes a while (aluminum, heavy plastic, etc.), I thoroughly rinse out and bring with me. Yes, I know it is supposedly bad to bury stuff, but I am more concerned about bears not knowing that. I think Smokey and Winnie were the only bears that could read.

Also this said, and I have never had an issue with bears.  Raccoons, chipmunks, etc., definitely.

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on September 25, 2019, 07:20:32 am
Hang all attractants, which is what we did for a week in the backcountry of Glacier N.P., which reportedly has a bear or two. Never keep attractants in your tent. Or use the food storage lockers you sometimes find. I have also stored attractants inside bathrooms/toilet buildings. As for trash, we carried it out of the wood, and I have carried it out during bike trips.

But let's be honest: Where are you talking about? And from your other posts we know that you are only talking about 1 or 2 nights.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: hikerjer on September 25, 2019, 04:48:14 pm

"Seventh, honestly, I bury my trash."

This is totally irresponsible.  It's going to be exposed sooner or later.. Maybe you haven't had an issue it with but the next person in the campsite may well have a problem with it.  Please, take your trash out with you . If you brought it in, you can carry it out.  It's not that hard.  I don't want to sound preachy but that's just good cap etiquette.

In answer to the OP's post, if there's a chance of critters, big or small, being around,I hang m food or use an Ursac.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: John Nettles on September 25, 2019, 06:02:10 pm
I think "totally irresponsible" is a tad strong.  Highly not recommended, perhaps would be better.  And yes, I agree it would be better if I packed it out.  But if it is smelly and I have no where to rinse it, I personally would rather just bury the paper & steel cans beside the road than risk a bear coming around to my campsite when I am sleeping. 

That said, I have only buried a few times since I typically cook and eat in a picnic site or some other developed site which typically has a trash can, I am not overly concerned about altering nature that much. 

Tailwinds, John

Title: Re: Bears
Post by: geotrouvetout67 on September 25, 2019, 08:48:10 pm

But let's be honest: Where are you talking about? And from your other posts we know that you are only talking about 1 or 2 nights.

For now, 1 to 2 nights essentially indeed, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine = black bears.

Later on I'm hoping for the TD = grizzlies
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: Iowagriz on September 25, 2019, 10:22:22 pm
Yes John, irresponsible.  Hang the garbage and smelly stuff away from where you sleep, get it in the morning and dispose later.

I agree with your other tips.

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Bears
Post by: hikerjer on September 25, 2019, 10:42:20 pm
I think "totally irresponsible" is a tad strong. 

I've got to respectfully disagree with you, John. Too many times I've come across campsites where people have buried their garbage only to have it dug up by some critter and strewn all over.  Pretty disgusting.  Besides, you're going to have to bury that trash pretty dang deep, much deeper than most people are willing to take the time to do, to  disguise it from a bear with it's incredible sense of smell. Besides, it only encourages whatever animal, bear or otherwise, to visit the area again looking for an easy meal. Not a particular attractive scenario for the next campers.  Like I said, before, if you brought it with you, you can take it out with you.  Should be lighter and more compact then, anyway.  It's just common courtesy and protective of wildlife as well. I mean it's not that hard to stick your garbage into a double plastic bag and take it to the nearest trash barrel which is probably not too far away. Otherwise, let's face it, it's nothing but litter. Not to is irresponsible - I guess we can debate to what degree until the cows (or bears) come home - and lazy as well. The backpacking community has stressed no trace camping for years.  No reason the touring community shouldn't either.  To do less, just gives all bicycle tourists a bad name.

I'd say it's just my opinion, but in many places - national forests and parks, state parts. etc., it's the law.

Best wishes for a clean camp.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: hikerjer on September 25, 2019, 10:50:24 pm

Later on I'm hoping for the TD = grizzlies
[/quote]

Just "bear" in mind that grizzlies are a whole different animal than black bears - so to speak.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on September 26, 2019, 10:10:00 am
Yes John, irresponsible.  Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

+1. Not to mention likely illegal in many places.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on September 26, 2019, 10:31:32 am

But let's be honest: Where are you talking about? And from your other posts we know that you are only talking about 1 or 2 nights.

For now, 1 to 2 nights essentially indeed, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine = black bears.

If you are the "bush" take the precautions noted in this thread. If you are in more developed areas like commercial campgrounds you will have even less to worry about.  Unless you have something to offer them or can be seen as a threat to cubs, black bears almost always want nothing to do with you.  All nine I have seen while riding--including the huge one that was staring at me from 25' away--either walked away, ran away or kept going about their business without paying me much mind.

Rodents are far more likely to be a problem.  A few years ago a raccoon tried to run off with an empty pannier of mine. Most of the day it had contained a very aromatic everything bagel, which I had since put in food storage. Have to assume some lingering smell attracted it. During my first tour I stupidly left a loaf of bread in my tent while I went to visit a historical site. Came back to find that some rodent had chewed through the tent mesh and had a feast. Rodents are crafty suckers.  The food prep area of every backcountry campground we stayed at in Glacier had ground squirrel burrows very close by. They go after the scraps and crumbs they know people invariably drop. I've even seen chipmunk holes under picnic tables at private campgrounds. The towne campsite in Waterton Village, AB, has indoor camp kitchens. Last time I was there we had to take a piece of firewood and plug a hole that a ground squirrel had dug to gain access to the one we were using.

And don't get me started on feral cats. The place I am going tomorrow has had them. One time one grabbed my bag of trash on the picnic table and tried to drag it off. Thought it was a 'coon until I slipped on the headlamp.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: geotrouvetout67 on September 27, 2019, 09:57:03 am
Seems like the best options I gathered are as following

- eat and clean up before setting camp then move on like a mile or two to set camp / no cooking under the tent (can suck when it rains)

- keep food in a waterproof / air proof dry bag while carrying on the bike to prevent odors from "staining" the cargo bags

- hang the food and toiletry in an Ursack a couple hundred feet from camp at night (unless camping in a place there is storage).

What do you do when traveling above tree line or generally areas with no trees? Can't hang the food obviously.

Has anyone tried an air horn to scare animals away?

I have an older model AirZound like this one and it is super loud, does not weigh much and can be recharged with a regular bike pump unlike a disposable can.
Once an a***h*** car driver passed me and hooked, I honked back with this as he was passing with his right window open and he would have jumped off his seat if he was not wearing a seatbelt.

 https://www.amazon.com/Delta-Cycle-Airzound-Hooter-Rechargeable/dp/B000ACAMJC/ref=sr_1_4?crid=2RRXYSMUTP9BJ&dchild=1&keywords=bike+air+horn&qid=1569592238&sprefix=bike+air+ho%2Caps%2C148&sr=8-4
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: hikerjer on September 27, 2019, 11:38:18 am
Above tree line,I generally find a cliff  and hang my food bag over the edge.  I've never used a air horn but I have  friend in Wyoming who always carries one and swears by it.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: driftlessregion on September 28, 2019, 03:12:29 pm
Read the requirements at each park you're going to be in, e.g., Glacier or Mt Rainier, or Acme State Park. Each website has specific instructions and requirements for that park. Glacier for instance provides boxes in the campground, and FINES anyone not using them every minute that the food is not being used. REI has some instructional videos. Cooking a mile away is a bit excessive even in mountainous bear country. I just spent 5 days backpacking in Mt Rainier National Park and had no issues in the  back country campgrounds. We ran into bears on the trail but they were either too busy snarfing down berries or protecting cubs. As long as we backpedaled, so to speak, momma was fine.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on September 30, 2019, 08:01:57 am
Cooking a mile away is a bit excessive even in mountainous bear country. I just spent 5 days backpacking in Mt Rainier National Park and had no issues in the  back country campgrounds.

Yeah. In Glacier the food prep/eating areas in the backcountry campgrounds were maybe 30'-40' from the tent areas. OP is going to be in New England, so the threat is de minimis, although not one to be ignored.

As I mention above, rodents are far more likely to be the problem. Just inadvertently ignored my own advice on Friday. Cooked some pasta for dinner. Forgot to secure the remaining, uncooked pasta before I turned in. Mr. raccoon made off with it around 2:30 in the morning. Grabbed it off the picnic table and made off into the brush. Went looking for it the next morning and found it maybe 100' from my site. Little, if any, was eaten. Must have been to al dente for him. Saturday night another one approached my site while I was reading by the fire. Probably the same one looking for more treats. I shooed him away.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: John Nelson on October 01, 2019, 04:16:27 am
I shooed him away.

My experience with raccoons is that they ignore my shooing attempts. I think they know that I don’t have a gun.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on October 01, 2019, 12:39:35 pm
I shooed him away.

My experience with raccoons is that they ignore my shooing attempts. I think they know that I don’t have a gun.
My first ever tour was ACA's unsupported Northern Tier. The first night marked the first night I had ever camped. Went to use the facilities in the middle of the night. Walking back to my tent I discovered a raccoon on the picnic table about to get into our food. So you see, grasshopper, I have been honing my technique ever since. I sometimes get to practice my skills when out on my back deck as they sometimes roam the urban alleyways.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: hikerjer on October 01, 2019, 10:44:48 pm
I remember a park service sign I saw in one national park on a picnic table and I can't remember if it referred to raccoons or ravens, but it said to the effect,

"Secure your food and camp. They are (raccoons or ravens) clever, persistent and nasty".  Seemed appropriate.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on October 02, 2019, 08:05:32 am
I remember a park service sign I saw in one national park on a picnic table and I can't remember if it referred to raccoons or ravens, but it said to the effect,

"Secure your food and camp. They are (raccoons or ravens) clever, persistent and nasty".  Seemed appropriate.

During my June trip in MT and ID the crows (or ravens) were off the hook. In Avery, ID, there is a set of dumpsters for residents to dispose of their trash. Maybe 6 or 7 of them. Lots of trash on the ground around them. Local told me the crows are responsible most of the mess.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: Pat Lamb on October 04, 2019, 10:51:09 am
Shouldn't be very difficult to make crow-resistant dumpsters!  Getting the residents to close the doors might be a problem, though.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on October 04, 2019, 11:18:55 am
Yeah. Some of them were left wide open and were quite full, making for easy pickin's. Not exactly a tony area. Looked like the dumpsters are not emptied frequently.
Title: Carrying bear spray
Post by: geotrouvetout67 on October 06, 2019, 10:24:57 am
If you fly to a pretty remote place, you can’t carry bear sprays in your luggage. How do you folks do? One option is to buy it locally but if you are not 100% sure it’s available locally, it’s a risky option. Maybe have it shipped to the post office and pick it up at destination? I don’t know if pose offices do that.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: John Nettles on October 06, 2019, 10:38:01 am
I have shipped via ground shipping, can't remember if it was USPS or UPS but it had to be ground.  If UPS, then ship to a hotel, bike shop, etc. but get permission first so they don't reject the shipment.
Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: staehpj1 on October 07, 2019, 09:04:55 am
I have never bothered with bear spray.  That said my understanding is that it can be mailed USPS ground.  You can use general delivery to mail things to yourself via a local post office near your starting location.  Google "general delivery".

I know that when mailing isobutane canisters they needed to have some specific language on the package.  That included the "ORM–D" designation, but I don't have any idea if that apples to bear spray.  I don't think it does, but you might want to google it to be sure.

BTW, I agree that burying trash is a big no no.

Title: Re: Bears
Post by: geotrouvetout67 on October 07, 2019, 01:15:44 pm
yes indeed stove gas is a similar situation, would have to be mailed. For sure burying trash is a huge no-no, it's not much different than just dropping it on the ground. Bears or no bears.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: hikerjer on October 08, 2019, 10:23:52 pm
You know,  I'll be the first to admit that I like bears and love seeing them but let's face it, black bears can be a bit of a nuisance and sometime a real pain in the behind.  Grizzlies while magnificent animals, are just plain scary and dangerous.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on October 10, 2019, 07:00:32 am
You know,  I'll be the first to admit that I like bears and love seeing them but let's face it, black bears can be a bit of a nuisance and sometime a real pain in the behind. 

Yeah. They can really interrupt a nice hike:

https://komonews.com/news/local/i-was-terrified-says-lacey-woman-on-heart-pounding-encounter-with-bear

Notice how the bugger did not mess with anyone. They are not all out to kill you.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: Pat Lamb on October 10, 2019, 09:05:45 am
But sometimes they are. 

There were a couple of serious black bear attacks in east Tennessee some 10 years ago.  One killed a woman in the Great Smoky Mountains NP, the other either injured or badly killed (can't remember now) a young child in Cherokee National Forest south of there.  First fatai bear attack in the Smokies since it was founded, IIRC.

The bears I've encountered haven't been that bad.  And I ended up really close to one getting between it and my wife and daughter -- then it walked off.
Title: Re: Bears
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on October 10, 2019, 11:01:42 am
But sometimes they are. 

Sometimes. Last month I rode and up and back on the Great Allegheny Passage to have dinner with an old friend/former student who lives in Pittsburgh. Her ex-husband was the volunteer who was killed, partially consumed and cached by a grizzly in Yellowstone maybe 3 or 4 years ago. It's believed that he came between a mom and her two cubs while out for a short hike, possibly to test his knee that he had injured earlier in the summer.  Mom was "euthanized." Plan was to do the same to the cubs.  :(