Author Topic: Food Management - Bears  (Read 5074 times)

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Offline StuartB

Food Management - Bears
« on: April 22, 2018, 02:46:19 am »
Hi Everyone,

I hope I have posted this in the best place.....

Anyway, I am planning to ride from Truckee to Vancouver via the Sierra Cascade (3, 2, 1) through August. I intend to camp most of the way. As I'm from New Zealand, where bears don't exist, my concern is around managing my food overnight etc. when camping in areas where bears might be present.

I'm really hoping people can give me some general tips, where to look for information, or explain what they do to manage this. Should food be sealed and stored somewhere specific overnight etc.

Any feedback welcome!

Kind regards,
Stuart

Offline jamawani

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2018, 05:38:38 am »
Stuart -

Most designated campgrounds have bear boxes - - use them.
If you plan or want to wild camp, then you will need to use one of the following methods:

1. Hanging your food from a tree
https://www.princeton.edu/~oa/training/bearbag.shtml
You will need 50 ft. of good quality climbers rope and a carabiner.
You will also need to practice beforehand - it's not hard, but has a learning curve.

2. Bear canister
https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/containers.htm
Yosemite N.P. and some California national forests no longer permit food hanging.
Bears have learned how to bite through the retaining rope.
They are bulky and add weight - 3 lbs; the Ursack is not approved by the NPS.

NEVER EAT IN YOUR TENT.
If you have eaten/cooked in your current tent, you should consider using another tent.
This is useful for other critters, too - such as raccoons - who can shred you tent in seconds.

Offline StuartB

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2018, 04:33:01 am »
jamawani,

Thanks so much for the info.

Cheers,
Stuart

Offline jbruced

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2018, 07:10:22 am »
In addition to the comments by jamawani, especially if wild camping, eat a little early and then move on a few miles before setting up your campsite.

Offline DarrenBnYYC

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2018, 09:19:06 pm »
Good advice above. But your greatest danger with bears won't be having them come into your camp at night looking for food. It will be surprising them on the trail. Have you read much or put much thought into how you will mitigate that threat?

Offline StuartB

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2018, 10:53:19 pm »
I Haven't Darren. Is there anywhere you might suggest I start looking?

Offline DarrenBnYYC

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2018, 11:16:20 pm »
Some wise, basic advice here:
http://www.wildsmart.ca/resources/living-with-wildlife/bikes-berries-and-bears.htm

You need to have bearspray within reach on the bike. I have had some close calls, although never needed the bearspray, but I learned you have no time to dig it out of a bag when you may need it.

Making lots of noise before bends on the trail or when you get into tight vegetation with reduced visibility is really important, especially if you are biking into a headwind and/or moving at a good clip. Bear bells or bicycle bells are NOT effective - loud shouting and an air horn work best, but don't carry as far as some expect. Best to slow down in tight spots and travel with a group in areas of known bear activity if possible.

To put it all in perspective, however, I am cautious in bear country because of the danger, but not as cautious as I am when my route takes me on busy roads that I must share with cars - that's a much bigger danger, and motorists are less predictable than the bears. So if you are brave enough to bike in traffic, then you should have no problem sharing the backcountry with the bears.

And here's an interesting read, albeit a bit sensationalized, but with some good advice mostly:
https://www.outsideonline.com/2168661/why-do-mountain-bikers-keep-running-bears-trail
« Last Edit: April 28, 2018, 11:22:09 pm by DarrenBnYYC »

Offline StuartB

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2018, 03:58:52 am »
Well, crap. That is all terrifying. Perhaps the USA isn't a good place to visit after all?......

As I understand it, I will be biking along the road for almost all of my trip. From the stuff I read there, the issue tends to be sneaking up on animals due to poor visibility etc. like within forested trails. I really don't think this is going to be an issue for me.

I'll keep reading, but appreciate the feedback from everyone.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2018, 07:02:43 am »
Well, crap. That is all terrifying. Perhaps the USA isn't a good place to visit after all?......

As I understand it, I will be biking along the road for almost all of my trip. From the stuff I read there, the issue tends to be sneaking up on animals due to poor visibility etc. like within forested trails. I really don't think this is going to be an issue for me.

I'll keep reading, but appreciate the feedback from everyone.
Use good judgement with storing food and scented items and don't worry.  You may see bears at some point if you are lucky, but are unlikely to have any problems if you use a little care.

I did find that on the portion of the SC route that I did there were a few places where we did find that the campground didn't have bear boxes.  Usually that means that they have not had problems, but if you are really worried you could use a bear canister or Ursack.  Place it away from your tent at night also cook and eat a ways away from the tent.  Keeping some distance between those three areas helps minimize problems.

On bike tours I have not bothered with the canister or ursack and either use the bear box or hang my food and toiletries.  That has worked out well for me.

Just outside Yosemite we did stay in a park that had bear problems and no bear boxes.  The signs said to keep all food in your vehicle.  We asked someone to let us keep ours in the trunk of the car with theirs.  They were happy to comply and we wound up making friends with a nice Dutch couple.  We helped them get a fire going (they had given up) and ate smores with them.  Actually the campground was full so we asked to share their campsite.  They were happy to comply.  On the SC we needed to share a site a couple times.

A good way to evaluate the risk is to look at the dumpsters and other trash receptacles.  If they are not bear proof then they most likely do not have a problem with bears raiding them.  Also asking the camp manager or camp host will provide some info on what the situation is.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2018, 08:31:21 am »
To put the 'Bears on Trail" into perspective, I've only run across a bear on a road one time, and that was in a National Park, on a one-way road that was closed to vehicles that morning.  About two dozen cyclists and pedestrians were waiting on the bear to move off the road.  Most bears will be off the side of the road, and you'd be lucky to see one.

The Outside article may confuse you.  Forests in the U.S. often have fire roads, which were cut through the woods for easy access to an area in case of fire.  They're all but unused by motorized vehicles; in most places you might see an off-roader or two on a weekend.  There's also trails, often shared by hikers and mountain bikers.  There you'll have a better chance of running into a bear.

The Sierra Crest is routed largely, if not exclusively, on paved roads (are there exceptions?).  You'll be lucky to see larger wildlife from the road.  Campgrounds or picnic areas concentrate bears, so that's where you'll need to be vigilant.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Food Management - Bears
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2018, 09:19:35 am »
To put the 'Bears on Trail" into perspective, I've only run across a bear on a road one time, and that was in a National Park, on a one-way road that was closed to vehicles that morning.
Yeah, I didn't see any on the Trans America and I didn't see any on most of my other tours.

That said I did see them on the Sierra Cascades route in several places.  I think that the odds are fairly high that you will see bears on the Sierra Cascades route.  I never in all of my touring had any bear related problems though.  Even when backpacking and canoe camping in bear country, where there were lots of bears, I never have had any bear related problems.  Be sure follow good food storage practices and you will be fine.