Author Topic: Bear safety on the GDMBR  (Read 2507 times)

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Offline raybagg

Bear safety on the GDMBR
« on: October 20, 2020, 10:24:40 am »

My wife and I are planning to ride the GDMBR in 2021 and was wondering what bear safety precautions/equipment have folks used.

We've done numerous bikepacking trips in black bear country but never in grizzly territory. I must admit that the grizzly factor is a little frightening to me.

We've generally packed all of our food, toothpaste, and "smellables" in a dry bag and hung in a tree away from camp. I think I have a pretty good hanging technique and so far have not had an issue.

Are bikepackers using Ursack bear bags? Or how about odor blocking bags?

We definitely plan to carry bear spray as well.


Thanks in advance!


Offline Itinerant Harper

Re: Bear safety on the GDMBR
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2020, 10:38:26 am »
Sounds like you have all the right ideas. I had an Ursack with the oder blocking bag (a giant ziplock basically) inside.  I hung them every time, or used bear boxes if they were available.  Had bear spray conveniently mounted on the bicycle and kept it at hand hiking or sleeping. Cooked away from the tent. &c

The GDMBR is super popular; I was really surprised by how many people I saw on it.  Even in the bulk of the wild camping sites I did there were other people around. That I think is a big bear deterrent. Grizzly's won't be afraid, but if they aren't "used" to humans and there is a group I suspect they are less likely to check it out.

I saw one grizzly --mama with cub-- as I rode out of the Tetons. They crossed the road uphill from me and I stopped and waited them out.  About as good as it gets for a Grizzly sighting :)

Offline jamawani

Re: Bear safety on the GDMBR
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2020, 10:43:45 am »
I've lived in Wyoming/Montana for the past 30 years.
Done a lot of backcountry riding in griz country and have had a few overnight "visitors".
It sounds like you are using safe camping techniques - make sure you hang high enough.
Also, I tend to have my smelliest meal for lunch - snackish meal for dinner.

Not sure whether you are heading N-S or S-N or when.
Also, whether you are doing the Canadian Rockies.
The risk is greater N-S if you are leaving in late May / early June.
Bears coming out of hibernation are hungry and more likely to be involved in an encounter.

Also, bears start the season at lower elevations - streams & lakes.
Just where cyclists like to camp.
That's why Yellowstone and other parks close such areas early in the season.
But usually such closures do not extend to neigboring national forests.

About ursacks - regulations vary according to land managers.
(Also, ursacks don't always meet backcountry requirements - check!)
As a cyclist, you cannot be in wilderness areas - where they may be required.
If you plan to do short overnight hikes into wilderness areas - then, yes.
In griz country, you should have sufficient trees for hanging - but not always.
I've had to bike lots of extra miles late in the day to get thru burn scars.
Also, in the desert areas critters will be attracted to your food.

Have a great trip!

Offline crichman

Re: Bear safety on the GDMBR
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2020, 02:48:21 pm »
On my southbound trip I also hung my drybag with all my smelly things.  Including an odor-proof bag inside your stuff sack can reduce odors noticeably, though ultimately nothing really escapes a bear's nose.  Hanging was an option throughout most of the trip, save some of the drier and more southern bits outside of normal grizzly range.  Be sure to hang from relatively slender branches high enough and far enough from the tree trunk - many folks don't.

Informal campsites on the Divide are often near rivers.  The dropping your bear hang from the bridge over the river can be a convenient alternative.

Do carry bear spray and keep it immediately accessible to you on and off your bike.


Offline DarrenBnYYC

Re: Bear safety on the GDMBR
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2020, 05:29:32 pm »
Good advice above, and I'll add one of the most important things you should do. Be loud on the trail. Be especially loud, shouting "Hey bear!" or "Coming through!" whenever your sight lines are reduced, especially when moving fast. Your greatest risk of injury from bears on the GDMBR is not from a bear wandering into your camp - it is on the bike if you startle a bear, particularly a momma with cubs. Your loud voice is your best defence - bears recognize it, and wild bears are naturally weary of humans (habituated bears are a different story sometimes, however).

Forget bear bells or horns - research by people like Tom Smith or Stephen Herrero have shown that your voice is best. Use it often when riding. And keep your bear spray where you can reach it IMMEDIATELY - if you startle a bear because you were going fast and the bear did not hear you coming, it may come down to a few seconds before you need to use it.