Author Topic: bear safety on the Northern Tier  (Read 2615 times)

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Offline sbwaxman

bear safety on the Northern Tier
« on: May 13, 2022, 09:27:14 am »
Hello all!

I am riding a modified NT route June-August, and I am wondering what folks do for bear protection. I have a bear vault, but I haven't seen anyone else mention using them in blogs and posts here (though I may have missed it); I'm wondering if this is because all the campgrounds in bear country have bear boxes or the bear vaults on loan. I was thinking to carry it Washington through the UP and then send it home, but maybe it'd be useful again in the VT/NH area? Also, do folks generally carry bear spray? I'd love any insights, helpful thoughts, comments, and feedback.

Thanks in advance!

Sarah

Offline staehpj1

Re: bear safety on the Northern Tier
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2022, 10:23:14 am »
I haven't done the NT, but on other routes including the TA, ST, half of the SC, and others with a fair amount of bear country (the majority of it black bears) I always managed.  My approach has been to use bear lockers where they are available and to generally follow good camp practices wrt food and scented items.  I have not used my canisters on bike tours only for backpacking (when required) or canoe camping.

If I were really worried and wanted to go an extra step I might use Loksak Opsak scent proof bags and maybe even an Ursack, but I have never gone to either.  After years of canoe camping, backpacking, and bike touring in bear country I find that I am comfortable withoput going to canisters except in places where they are required.  In those places there are bear lockers in the campgrounds in most cases.  There have been a couple times I was either a bit uncomfortable with the situation ofr the rules said "put food in your car trunk".  In the former case we always managed something, like once or twice when we left food in a restroom.  In the latter case we asked a car camper if we could put our bags in their trunk.

You can evaluate how much effort you need to take.  Always maintain a clean camp and keep scented stuff away frm the tent, but stuff like hanging food may or may not be necessary.  Looking at what kind of trash cans and dumpsters there are and what condition they are in will gaive a pretty good idea of how serious they are about critters getting into them.  Asking around is the next step.  Sometimes there may be signs warning about bears and if you ask there my not really be a problem.  In one such place there were warning signs all over the place.  We asked the camp host how bad the problem was so we knew how many precaurions to take.  He said a bear hadn't been seen in 10 years and racoons weren't usually a problem.  He went on that car campers left coolers out every night without incident.  We hung our food any way, but didn't take great care to do a perfect setup.

On the Trans America we did have racoons get into our panniers one night.  We rolled in late-ish and didn't pay attention to the shepherds crook hangers for hanging food bags.  I think the only other issues we had on the TA were a mouse that ran the line to get to our food hang and ate a little granola and a raven that stole some jerky at lunch time from an unzipped handlebar bag when we were eating lunch a few yards away.

Edited to add: I have seen two people carry bear canisters out of the many riders I have met.  It does have the advantage of being a place to sit.  I like to minimise the load though.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2022, 10:25:51 am by staehpj1 »

Offline sbwaxman

Re: bear safety on the Northern Tier
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2022, 10:25:53 am »
Thanks so much! I have definitely had raccoon troubles before (including a raccoon chewing through my tent), but I haven't spent much time in bear country.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: bear safety on the Northern Tier
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2022, 10:42:08 am »
I have yet to use a canister in 45 years of touring.  Otherwise, I agree with Pete.
Tailwinds, John

Offline sbwaxman

Re: bear safety on the Northern Tier
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2022, 10:44:50 am »
Thank you, John!

Offline staehpj1

Re: bear safety on the Northern Tier
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2022, 10:51:11 am »
I have yet to use a canister in 45 years of touring.  Otherwise, I agree with Pete.
Tailwinds, John
I haven't either other than for backpacking or canoe camping.