Author Topic: Bears  (Read 7099 times)

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Offline geotrouvetout67

Bears
« 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?

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Bears
« Reply #1 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

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Bears
« Reply #2 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.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Bears
« Reply #3 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.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Bears
« Reply #4 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


Offline geotrouvetout67

Re: Bears
« Reply #5 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

Online Iowagriz

Re: Bears
« Reply #6 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


Offline hikerjer

Re: Bears
« Reply #7 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.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2019, 11:44:05 pm by hikerjer »

Offline hikerjer

Re: Bears
« Reply #8 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.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2019, 11:39:35 pm by hikerjer »

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Bears
« Reply #9 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.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Bears
« Reply #10 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.

Offline geotrouvetout67

Re: Bears
« Reply #11 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

Offline hikerjer

Re: Bears
« Reply #12 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.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2019, 10:19:51 pm by hikerjer »

Offline driftlessregion

Re: Bears
« Reply #13 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.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Bears
« Reply #14 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.