Bear bagging

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Bumblebee
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Bear bagging

Post by Bumblebee » Jan 06 2018 9:38 am

Hi,

this is going to be my first thru-hike and I`m not really an outdoor expert. So what about bears? I heard about bear bagging, safe boxes, ursacks.. What is your favorite way to protect food and stuff from bears, rodents or whatever? Do I have to store my food outside my tent all the time? I read the blog of a woman who kept her food in her tent. Anyone here who tried that? How common are bear safes along the trail?

Is it common to encounter bears, mountain lions, rattle snakes? I will start in February..many snakes out there this time of the year?

Thanks for useful informations. :)

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big_load
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by big_load » Jan 06 2018 10:31 am

I've used an Ursack since 2002 with no problems. I've seen plenty of bears in AZ and I would definitely not keep food in my tent.

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FireFly
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by FireFly » Jan 06 2018 10:37 am

It seems that most hikers simply sleep with their food on the AZT without any problems. But I used an Ursack and always kept the food away from my tent, if possible hanging it in a tree or bushes. Often available bushes were quite low so not out of reach of bears/ mountain lions etc but they still wouldn't be able to get to my food. Anyway, I have no indication that any animal ever touched it.

Having said that, when I camped at Agua Caliente a skunk spent a minute sniffing around my tent looking for food and not finding it (because it was hanging in my Ursack away from my tent). He run off and I never saw him again. But one lady who was camping about 100 metres further kept her food in her tent and the skunk kept harassing her so she broke up her tent in the dark and moved to somewhere else. And a guy with an (open) tarp with his food near him was harassed by the skunk the entire night (because of food near him I guess) and didn't get much sleep because of that. He was afraid that he would scare the skunk and that the skunk would then spray all his stuff with stink! So it is not just bears.

The only thing that was eaten by some animal were the thick nylon straps of my trekking poles! I could hardly believe it! I always kept them next to my tent and one morning in the Four Peaks Wilderness I discovered that some rodent had eaten them, perhaps for the salt (sweat). He really took the entire straps of both poles. I then had to improvise new straps using some dyneema cord :D

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CannondaleKid
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by CannondaleKid » Jan 06 2018 12:16 pm

FireFly wrote:The only thing that was eaten by some animal were the thick nylon straps of my trekking poles!
I never leave my hiking poles out overnight for that simple reason. They are either inside my tent with me or in the car when car camping. And for those times I might forget, I the possibility by thoroughly rinsing the straps after most hikes.
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FireFly
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by FireFly » Jan 07 2018 2:17 am

CannondaleKid wrote:
Jan 06 2018 12:16 pm
FireFly wrote:The only thing that was eaten by some animal were the thick nylon straps of my trekking poles!
I never leave my hiking poles out overnight for that simple reason. They are either inside my tent with me or in the car when car camping. And for those times I might forget, I the possibility by thoroughly rinsing the straps after most hikes.
I always keep my shoes inside my tent for that reason, but I never realised that my trekkingpoles are edible too. learnt the hard way, heheh.

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Bumblebee
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by Bumblebee » Jan 07 2018 4:03 am

Hahaha, OK, I have a spacious tent and will keep my shoes and poles inside.

How about snakes? Are there many around in late winter/early spring? Will they crawl into the apsis and meet me there in the morning? :scared:

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nonot
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by nonot » Jan 07 2018 5:33 am

I've used three methods, though per your question, only 2 are suitable for bears

1) put ratsack outside tent, hung from nearby bush. Only good if no bears are possible, protects from mice, squirrels, coons, skunks, etc.
2) hang food from tree out of reach, I use the PCT method of food hanging
3) bear canister - I like the garcia bear canister, it weighs 3 lbs which is substantial but it makes a nice stool and is required in some areas of california, washington, and throughout the rockies.

You can get away with storing food in your tent, I've done that as well, however I've also hand problems with animals, fortunately, never bears, with food in my tent, and I've learned it is altogether easier on the mind to put the food (and deoderant, toothpaste, etc) outside, compared to worrying about an animal or bear ripping into my tent in the middle of the night. I sleep much better.
Last edited by nonot on Jan 07 2018 5:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by nonot » Jan 07 2018 5:36 am

@Bumblebee
Snakes are cold blooded and will not be active at night, however they can be active during the day when the temperatures and sun warm things up above 55 or so. I've seen several snakes in winter in the lower desert, early morning, daytime and at sunset. When cold they won't really move but just watch you.

Snakes are not too much to get worked up about, leave them be and they will leave you alone. Occasionally you will cross paths with an ornery rattler, but just give him a way to crawl away from you that isn't blocked. Don't approach it.
http://hikearizona.com/garmin_maps.php

Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, ankle-twisting, HAZmaster crushing ROCKS!!
Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, shin-stabbing, skin-shredding plants!
Hike Arizona it is full of striking, biting, stabbing, venomous wildlife!

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TheMazzicMan
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by TheMazzicMan » Jan 07 2018 7:01 am

I agree with nonot regarding bear canisters. In my opinion, the weight they add is negligible when compared to the utility of having them. In addition to keeping all critters (not just bears) away from your food, it's a great place to store things you want to keep dry. In camp, it makes an excellent wash tub.
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sandyfortner
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by sandyfortner » Jan 07 2018 7:59 am

I almost always sleep with the food in my tent and, really, it's not a good idea. Hang it outside - it takes zero effort. Sky Islands, up north, the Supes - any place that you are seeing bear sign - hang your bag up as high as you can. Snakes - you'll come across them but you are NOT their food source - they just don't want to be trampled so will let you know they are there. When going through tall grass just be more aware and use your poles out in front of you if it makes you feel more comfortable. I REALLY am not a snake fan - AT ALL - but I also know that that is all in my head - they are not a problem. Mountain lion, javelina, coyotes, cows - they're all out there but, aside from the cows, you generally won't see them. They don't want to be seen and will avoid you. Don't get yourself worked up about the animals. Focus on heat / water - that is where your planning and efforts need to be. Be sure that you carry salt, an umbrella and plan your days so that you can sit in the shade until the sun is less intense. Starting early as you are, you should be fine, but we are having unseasonably warm and dry weather here in the desert, so it's worth the extra planning. You'll be fine and the trail is gorgeous!!!
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ttretta
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by ttretta » Jan 07 2018 9:15 am

I cook and leave all food, food trash and toiletries at least 100 feet from my tent, stored in an OpSack and then an Ursack. I don't tie it high, but I tie it very tight and usually try to place it where it's difficult to get to, like a branch hanging over a cactus or a river/wash bank. I've seen LOTS of signs of bears (foot prints and scat), heard them at night, but never have had an encounter. Shoes always inside my tent as I've had ant issues before! In almost 400 miles, I've only encountered one snake, and didn't actually see him - he rattled at me from under a log near a water source. In fact, in all my years hiking, biking and backpacking Arizona I've only had 3 rattlesnake encounters, and just went around them.

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Re: Bear bagging

Post by FireFly » Jan 07 2018 10:26 am

I have seen quite a few rattlesnakes on my thru-hike last year and also beautiful gila-monster!

Only one snake was slightly scary because it started rattling when I was on an overgrown trail where I couldn't very well see where I was going and I couldn't see the snake. It didn't seem to move either. But I did make my way around it without problems.

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Sredfield
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by Sredfield » Jan 07 2018 1:32 pm

sandyfortner wrote:Focus on heat / water - that is where your planning and efforts need to be.
A royal hallelujah AMEN to that!
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garyc57
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by garyc57 » Jan 07 2018 2:22 pm

Bumblebee wrote:Is it common to encounter bears, mountain lions, rattle snakes?
So far, I've hiked over 40% of the AZT, and I haven't seen a single bear, mountain lion, or rattle snake. Sorry! :pray:

(BTW, I just noticed... This is my 100th post! Whoo Hoo!)

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FireFly
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by FireFly » Jan 08 2018 3:12 am

ttretta wrote:
Jan 07 2018 9:15 am
Shoes always inside my tent as I've had ant issues before!
Yes ants are also a thing :D One time on the AZT I found a nice campspot so I threw off my backback and set up my tent. Then I threw my backpack into my tent and went inside. After one minute I noticed that my tent was full of ants! It turned out that I had thrown my backback on an ants-nest and after that my ant-covered backpack into my tent! ](*,)
I always check the area where I put my tent very carefully for ant-nests, sharp things etc but had not checked the area where I first put my backpack on the ground.

I had to remove more than 100 ants one by one. After that my fingers had a rather nice lemon-like taste, probably from their acid. :D

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ttretta
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by ttretta » Jan 08 2018 7:16 am

@FireFly
Haha yep, always check before putting anything down!! I once pitched my tent under a beautiful tree one evening near Hell's Hole, and shortly after sundown I kept hearing little noises like rain drops, but the sky was clear. I turned on my headlamp and discovered my tent COVERED in daddy long-legged spiders, that were dropping out of the tree and onto my tent! ANOTHER reason the shoes are always inside. :)

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friendofThundergod
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by friendofThundergod » Jan 08 2018 8:47 am

I use a slightly different strategy for bear bagging. I make several non lethal bear traps and then capture and bag all bears within a ten mile radius of my camp, I hang the bears for the night, so they can’t get into my food and then release them the next morning...

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big_load
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by big_load » Jan 08 2018 9:28 am

friendofThundergod wrote: then capture and bag all bears within a ten mile radius of my camp
That would take a while in the Sierra Ancha. There are an awful lot of bears up there.

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Re: Bear bagging

Post by outdoor_lover » Jan 08 2018 1:08 pm

Never Food in my Tent.... Squirrels, especially in Developed Campgrounds are spoiled Rotten and will stop at nothing to get Food... They have chewed Holes in a Friend's Tent in Zion and chewed the Cover off a Nylon Bag to get to the Food... Always Hang if you can, and if you can't bury that Sucker under some Rocks to keep them away from the Rodents and Ravens.... AWAY from the Tent... I don't even take drinks of any kind INTO my Tent. I leave a Water Bottle outside in the Vestibule.... And it's not just Developed Campgrounds, there are Squirrels in the Wilderness that get just as Ambitious... Ring-tailed Cats and Raccoons can be also be highly Predatory towards Camp Food....
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Re: Bear bagging

Post by nonot » Jan 08 2018 8:46 pm

friendofThundergod wrote:
Jan 08 2018 8:47 am
I use a slightly different strategy for bear bagging. I make several non lethal bear traps and then capture and bag all bears within a ten mile radius of my camp, I hang the bears for the night, so they can’t get into my food and then release them the next morning...
I was wondering why all the picnic baskets were sold out!
http://hikearizona.com/garmin_maps.php

Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, ankle-twisting, HAZmaster crushing ROCKS!!
Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, shin-stabbing, skin-shredding plants!
Hike Arizona it is full of striking, biting, stabbing, venomous wildlife!

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