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  1. #1
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    Default Where to bear bag, where to not?

    Where along the AT do you think one should bear bag, and where is it unnecessary. I'ld think Pa would be unnecessary, and GSMNP a strong should.
    I realize there are the "I never bear bag folks" , and the "I bear bag when I sleep in my back yard types."
    So where are you along this continuum?
    Mice and other varmits are included in the question.
    Thanks for your opinion.

  2. #2
    Registered User kayak karl's Avatar
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    I've only seen bear in Pa.
    Stay out of shelters and your problems are solved.
    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

  3. #3
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    Default Where to bear bag, where to not?

    Where along the AT do you think one should bear bag, and where is it unnecessary. I'ld think Pa would be unnecessary, and GSMNP a strong should.
    I realize there are the "I never bear bag folks" , and the "I bear bag when I sleep in my back yard types."
    So where are you along this continuum?
    Mice and other varmits are included in the question.
    Thanks for your opinion.

  4. #4
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    I make an effort to hang food when camping anywhere withing Shenandoah National Park and I'm not near a shelter with a bear pole. I will only bear bag if I can do it properly. In one case this April, I made a decision to sleep with my food since I couldn't achieve a reasonable hang. I did have opsaks and I was camped in an area where few people camp so I felt OK about it.

    I will be hanging food on the Colorado Trail where practical and sleeping with my food if above treeline or in a place where a proper hang isn't possible.

    On the JMT last year, I used a Bearikade canister.

  5. #5
    Registered User Lyle's Avatar
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    I have had bear in my camp during the night in Georgia, Tenn/NC, Virginia, and PA. Also in several other states not along the AT. Never had anything taken, other than a trash bag in PA (while at a developed campground). Add to that list that I have seen bear within a mile or so of my camp many times in these same states as well as in NJ. Yeah, I see plenty of bear while hiking, probably at least 30% of the trips I take. I attribute that to normally hiking alone, starting fairly early in the day, and hiking quietly.

    I usually hang my food properly when in active bear areas. If no recent reports of bear activity, or no obvious signs like claw marks, scat, etc. then I may not. I often do not bear bag food at shelters unless cables/poles are there. I always use bear boxes when they are in place. I figure the clubs wouldn't have gone to the bother and expense to install these things unless there were a reason. Cables do not protect your food from squirrels - personal experience.

    I do always use the mouse hangers at shelters for the obvious reasons. I figure with a shelter full of people, most bear will not even attempt to steal food from an occupied shelter - the mice and other small critters are less cautious. If I am sharing a shelter with other folks who wish to bear bag their food, I try to discern if they are doing so just to protect their food, or if they are entirely afraid of bears entering the shelter. I will hang my food if others seem to want that - go with the flow.

  6. #6

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    It's a good idea to hang your food every night, but actually the only time i hang my food is when i stay at a shelter if i use my tent ( which is most of the time ) I sleep with it, the only reason i hang at shelters is most folks that stay at shelters are Newbies and they get real nervous when they see some one trying to sleep with their food bag, the only animal that gives me problems is the DARN shelter mice and thats the main reason i don't use shelters.

  7. #7
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    IMHO there is no place on the AT that I would think "needs" bear hanging more than another with the possible exception of GSMNP. PA for example has plenty of bears, saw a huge bear killed during opening day of bear season last year less than a mile from the Rausch Gap shelter. I sometimes will hang, more to get a better night sleep than anything else. I am more concerned about smaller critters scampering about and waking me than I am with a bear.

  8. #8
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeezebox View Post
    ...GSMNP a strong should...
    In GSMNP, hanging food is REQUIRED... but then again, every campsite in GSMNP is equipped with bear cables.

    While not a common occurrence, some bears have learned that if they shake the bear cables, they can sometimes bounce bags off the hooks. So you might want to include a carabiner to hook your food bag to the wire loop rather than simply hang the bag from the bear cable hooks.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeezebox View Post
    I realize there are the "I never bear bag folks" , and the "I bear bag when I sleep in my back yard types."
    So where are you along this continuum?
    .
    i'm the former. never bear bag anywhere

  10. #10
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    very interesting...I'm a little surprised by the amount of "non -hanging" campers. But live and let live is my motto. For what it's worth, I usually always bear bag for a couple reasons. First, I sleep better and and second it would suck to be in the middle of a trip and have a bear or other critters steal part or all of my food. Let them carry their own food!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by hilltackler View Post
    very interesting...I'm a little surprised by the amount of "non -hanging" campers. But live and let live is my motto. For what it's worth, I usually always bear bag for a couple reasons. First, I sleep better and and second it would suck to be in the middle of a trip and have a bear or other critters steal part or all of my food. Let them carry their own food!
    Sometimes I feel like those goals do not coincide exactly. I always sleep better if my food isn't with me, but I feel like many times my food is safer with me than if poorly hung. So sometimes a less restful night is the price paid to protect food adequately. Once this spring, I hung my food and pondered how well it was hung for a while and then took it down and brought it into my tent with me. Part of this no doubt is related to my relative inexperience with hanging food. The PCT method is great but it takes some practice to get it right.

  12. #12
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    I've spent a fair amount of time on the trail and I can say I have never had my food taken down by any critters or bears for that matter. I do my best to just hang it properly and that usually works fine. I use the regular method not the PCT method. Every once and while I won't be able to do a great hang. In that case I just hope for the best and leave it there - better there than in my tent. Guess I've been lucky. And I hope I didn't just jinx myself!

  13. #13
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    I hang my food no matter where I am; just makes things easy and much more safe... regardless of what you think the bear population is.
    Smile, Smile, Smile.... Mile after Mile

  14. #14

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    I can't speak to all the campsites in MA, but the ones I stayed at in July of last year between Sheffield and Washington, MA all had bear boxes to put your food bag in. These included Tom Leanord Lean-To, Shaker Campsite, Upper Goose Creek Pond Cabin, and October Mountain Lean-To.

  15. #15
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    All of the AT shelters and campsites in the whites (and many of the more popular campsites off the AT) have had to add bear boxes in the last couple of years due to persistent bear issues. Many of these shelters are quite high up on the ridge but this does not stop the bears. At some locations the bears have become so aggressive that there are designated cooking locations away from the tenting area.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    Sometimes I feel like those goals do not coincide exactly. I always sleep better if my food isn't with me, but I feel like many times my food is safer with me than if poorly hung. So sometimes a less restful night is the price paid to protect food adequately. Once this spring, I hung my food and pondered how well it was hung for a while and then took it down and brought it into my tent with me. Part of this no doubt is related to my relative inexperience with hanging food. The PCT method is great but it takes some practice to get it right.
    Always felt better sleeping with my food than not. Have experienced a couple of times when waking in the morning a hikers hung food was missing from the cables, did'nt know who...or what procured during the night.

  17. #17

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    There are more than a few stories of tent backpackers on the AT who having awakened, presumably from a good night’s sleep, to find that their food bag has been removed from a tree by a bear or torn open by some other critter. I am still waiting to read the report of a black bear entering into an occupied tent on the AT and attacking the sleeping backpacker for his food. I avoid shelters and sites around shelters and sleep with my food in an odor reducing Opsak. (Fill free to insert the usual non-sequitur drug-sniffing dog comment here.) Speaking of forms of logic, I continue to amazed by the lack of logic of those who crawl into a tent at night with their food-odor emitting clothes, hair, backpack, sleeping bag, etc., yet hang their food bag in the middle of nowhere from a tree – and emit more food odors from their tent than I do while I sleep safe and sound all by myself with my food next to me. I don’t really care if others want to be illogical, except (a) don’t ask me to be, and (b) in some areas (e.g., North Georgia) hanging bags in trees appears to have resulted in increased bear assertiveness, endangering the bears’ lives. I wonder (but do not know), if a mandatory sleep with your food requirement on the problem section of the AT in North Georgia would have prevented the need for the canister rule. Too many people are not going to make bear-proof hangs from trees, and smart Georgia bears have figured this out.

  18. #18
    Registered User DrRichardCranium's Avatar
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    Steel bear boxes would be great, except for all the tourons who use them as a dumpster & expect Someone Else to haul out their trash.
    "Katahdin barada nikto."

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Ace View Post
    I am still waiting to read the report of a black bear entering into an occupied tent on the AT and attacking the sleeping backpacker for his food.
    I'd sure like to see that stat as well...is there one? I mean are there some?

  20. #20

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