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sleeping with bears on 01/12/2006 07:12:07 MST Print View

How do not mix the cloths/gear you eat in with your sleeping gear in bear country? Do hikers sleep in any of the cloths that they wear while cooking/eating?
For example, how do you use a poncho to eat in during a rain storm and then sleep under it. Or it's cold so you are wearing everything you own while you're eating, what do you sleep in?

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: sleeping with bears on 01/13/2006 18:24:51 MST Print View

I try to not cook where I sleep, most of my meals are bag style which aren't particularily odoriferious. Don't do barbeque or rashers of bacon.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: sleeping with bears on 01/13/2006 20:11:07 MST Print View

I generally don't worry too much.

As Larry said, skipping meat and odoriforous foods is a very good idea. Going for quick-cooking instant foods also helps, so you don't end up with that cooked food smell.

Keep a super-clean camp, and try to cook some distance from where you actually sleep.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: sleeping with bears on 01/13/2006 20:17:41 MST Print View

What I have done sometimes, not to keep from bears, because I live in the east, but because I want to get to sleep right when I hit camp, I stop a few miles from my expected camp and cook and eat dinner, refill water and then continue hiking a few miles before setting up camp. cooking and eating a few miles from your campsite may solve your problem.

Edited by ryanf on 01/13/2006 20:19:30 MST.

Scott Toraason
Re: sleeping with bears on 01/15/2006 13:09:35 MST Print View

My wife and I don’t hike in real bear country like Alaska or Montana, but we have been on 5-7 day trips in Washington State, especially in the Okanogan, and have run smack into black bears and seen brown. As mentioned above, we just boil water for our Enertia Trail Food meals, but also take the precaution of cooking/eating over 100 yards away from our tent and complete a triangle by hanging our food 100 yard from there. We also separate where we brush our teeth and wash up. So far we have not met a bear that has figured out geometry but they are extremely good at simple math.

Re: Re: sleeping with bears on 01/19/2006 08:01:43 MST Print View

Thanks Larry

Even so, do you sleep in the cloths you eat in?

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Black Bears and Brown (was sleeping with bears) on 01/19/2006 09:33:34 MST Print View

Hair color isn't the distinguishing factor at all.

Bears in the Sierra are often blond (a friend of mine described them as surfer dude bears, which is a great image). "Black" bears can range in color from Black to White, with Red, Brown, and the aforementioned Blond bears quite common. Albino individuals are known to occur too, and are distinct from the white-haired black bears, most commonly seen in coastal British Columbia.

All this is to point out that the hair color of bears has nothing at all to do with their species.

Interestingly, the same range of hair color occurs in Grizzly bears.

There probably are extremely few grizzly bears in the Okanogan, and almost certainly none of them are part of any permanent population. Multiple surveys using DNA samples from scat and hair haven't found a griz there. There hasn't been a reliable griz sighting in the North Cascades since 1968, when one was shot in Fisher Basin. There hasn't been a reliable, confirmed griz sighting in Manning Park or Cathedral Park (just over the border) since the early 1970's.

Visual observations and reports of tracks continue to trickle in. These aren't nearly as reliable, and even bear experts continue to misidentify bears when shown photographs and tracks.

One more reason not to worry so much...

Robert Miller
(procab) - F
Re: sleeping with bears on 01/19/2006 09:49:55 MST Print View

Yes, I sleep in the clothes I eat in. The other option would be what? To eat in the nude?

I also cook in camp, if you call boiling water and pouring it in a bag cooking.

My suggestions are similar to the others keep a clean camp (no spilling food), keep your trash clean (no leaking bags) and camping away from the areas bears are most attracted to.


Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: sleeping with bears on 01/19/2006 13:58:06 MST Print View

"Yes, I sleep in the clothes I eat in. The other option would be what? To eat in the nude?"

What? No apron? Why, I think I just found my UL market niche: SuperUberLite aprons for the hiking chef. Goes right along with my dehydrated Chardonnay.

Actually, they do make poly aprons on a roll..... nooooooooo

I still wonder why an effective bear repellent can't be made. We need the bear equivalent of syrup of Ipecac --- I can just see an errant Yogi doing the technicolor yawn. Should work for raccoons too :)

Scott Toraason
Re: Re: sleeping with bears on 01/21/2006 16:33:48 MST Print View

That was quite a trip we had that year on the Golden Lakes Loops, our fourth in 6 years and the first time we saw a moose feeding at Boiling lake and then saw the brown bear break cover as we crossed over from the East Fork down into the Middle Fork of the Prince Creek Basin. It's common knowledge to the Forest Service Rangers in that area that moose migrate down from Canada and that there is estimated to be half dozen or so brown bears in the Northern Cascades. The existence of brown bear populations North of Snoqualmie pass has also been substantiated by the Washington State Wildlife Biologists who have lectured at our Hi Laker meetings. However, there is always the possibility of a few clever cross-dressing black bears, but I have always been aware to look at features and ignore their flashy clothes. Fun aside, I won't argue with David about the wide variety of color and the misidentification of bears.

Edited by kimot2 on 01/21/2006 16:45:29 MST.

Mark W Heninger
(heninger) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: sleeping with bears on 01/21/2006 22:37:30 MST Print View

Do you mean grizzlies north of North of Snoqualmie pass with this comment or just brown blackies?

Scott Toraason
Re: Re: Re: Re: sleeping with bears on 01/22/2006 11:45:05 MST Print View

In Washington State We call grizzlies brown bears.

Edited by kimot2 on 01/22/2006 11:46:02 MST.

Mark W Heninger
(heninger) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: sleeping with bears on 01/22/2006 15:34:15 MST Print View

Well I'm from Washington, and I call them Grizzlies, but that comes from a Canadian background I guess.

I live 20 minutes from Snoqualmie Pass and often spend time in the Alpine Wilderness area north of it. Have they ever found them that far down or just in the North Cascades.

Grizzlies unnerve me - again from the Canaidan background where I grew up hearing about maulings periodically.

Edited by heninger on 01/23/2006 13:24:50 MST.

cat morris
(catt) - F

Locale: Alaska
sleeping with bears on 01/22/2006 16:18:58 MST Print View

I'm in Alaska, where grizzlies are called brown bears too. Of course, we also have black bears. There is no confusion when we see a brown bear and we see lots of them; it's hump is pretty distinctive as is its summer color.

We use the triangular system for our campsite, use bear barrels only in Denali where it is required, otherwise, we bury our food stashes under piles of rocks since we backpack in the high tundra.

We never eat smoked salmon, tuna, sardines, etc. We eat out of ziplocks, then rinse with water.

And we never use aprons either!

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: sleeping with bears on 01/23/2006 19:32:47 MST Print View

I've lived in Washington my entire life, and I've never heard someone from here call then "brown bears".

The whole grizz in the Cascades thing is very confused.

Several biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife believe that a few grizzly bears are present in the North Cascades. This is based on a few persistent sightings that possiblly are grizzly bears and the presence of quite a few grizzly bears in British Columbia. I agree it is unlikely that grizzly bears are particularly concerned with international boundaries.

I am far more skeptical. First off, on the Canadian side, there have been no reliable sightings of grizzly bears in either Manning Provincial Park or Cathedral Provincial Park in over twenty years. These two parks are just over the border from the Pasayten Wilderness. However, just north of Manning Park at a place called Paradise Valley you will almost certainly see a griz. There is no explaination for this distribution of bears. Logically, bears that are commuting southward would sometimes pass through Manning Park, and on the average you would expect they would be seen on their way through even if they were not resident.

Second, about five years ago there were surveys that attempted to use DNA analysis to find grizzly bears in the Washington Cascades. No grizzly DNA was found either in hair samples or scat.

Third, there have been several efforts using bait and motion-sensing cameras (these are cool gadgets). Lots of bears were observed, and a few were checked out more closely as possible griz, none of them could be confirmed. However, lynx and wolverine were identified here (which is very cool).

Fourth, there is a black bear hunting season here. It seems surprising to me that no bear hunter has mistakenly shot a grizz here. Although given the complications that such a kill would produce, maybe the people who shoot a grizz here are just laying low...

I'm real leery of a lot of visual observations. Large male black bears can appear to have a prominent hump. And most people don't end up with a lot of time to carefully observe the bears they see in the wild. We also prime people with the signs at trailheads, so hikers are kind of psychologically primed to interpret any bear sighting as a possible grizz.

My own bet is that it is far more likely that there is a resident grizz population east of the Cascades. This is largely because the area is considerably more isolated and because there are better corridors for bears to travel to the north.

This has been going on for almost two decades in the Cascades. The hard data keeps coming up zero. The sightings still trickle in, but any grizzly bears in the Cascades are remarkably elusive. The way I think about it, being mauled by a grizzly bear in Washington would probably get you on the cover of Outside magazine. And you'd confirm that there are grizzly bears here. That would be some consolation, I guess.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
griz in the cascades on 01/23/2006 20:38:58 MST Print View

I, also, am a bit baffled by the rumors of griz in the cascades,...harts pass...bridge creek...napequa valley and I will apologize if one biologist would confirm one grizzly sighting. I do believe you can stumble across them on the Idaho border, maybe Priest Lake. I'm not dismissing black bears they are annoying, cunning, and way too adjusted to people in the cascades but I'm not jumping on the griz wagon.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: griz in the cascades on 01/24/2006 22:44:50 MST Print View

I have seen black bears here in Wa state every color of the rainbow it seems ;-) from tan to black. Grizzlies? Noooo thanks, I'd like to be very far away!

As for eating/cooking:
I eat all my hot meals freezer bag style, so I am only adding hot water. I try not to get the food near me when eating. (Ie no hugging the warm bag of food!) Considering I carry minimal clothing, yes, I wear the clothes I cook in. But I try to eat a couple hours before bed to air out, and I don't eat near my tent-or cook near it. So far, after many years I have not (knock on wood!) been bothered. I am sure my gutteral BO smell covers up anything!

Now, if I actually cooked (ie..slaved over a boiling stove) I would change my clothes. I know at home when I cook, my clothes reek of dinner.

Stephan Guyenet
(Guyenet) - F
stats on 01/25/2006 00:38:12 MST Print View

If it helps your peace of mind, by all means take ample precautions to avoid bear attacks. Statistically though, in WA state you'd be far better off spending your mental energy watching where you step.

In terms of mortality, you'd be better off carrying around a lightning rod and dragging a grounding wire behind you as you hike.

Bears rarely attack people in WA. "Bear bags" are really more for protecting your food from rodents and raccoons.

david backes
(davidb) - F
Grizzly / Brown bear on 01/26/2006 18:13:53 MST Print View

My understanding has always been that Brown Bears and Grizzlies are the same. Usually a brown bear is the term for a non coastal Grizzly. Most of the red / orange grizzlies are the more intense in color because of their main diet certain times of the year - Salmon.

cat morris
(catt) - F

Locale: Alaska
Brown Bears=Grizzly Bears on 02/02/2006 10:07:13 MST Print View

In Alaska, it's a matter of semantics. Alaskans call all grizzlies brown bears,except for the grizzlies on Kodiak which seem to be called Kodiak bears.

The brown bears we see down on the Kenai in the river fishing for salmon where we are salmon fishing (it's a pretty scary fishing scene fishing with the bears to get our winter salmon) are a darker shade than the interior brown bears we see hiking in Denali National Park. Those bears up there we see digging roots, ground squirrels, with caribou kills, etc. They are such a distictive golden-blondish shade that they stick out like a sore thumb, thank goodness. They sure gallop across the tundra! We have backpacking above them on ridges and they move!

Edited by catt on 02/02/2006 10:08:43 MST.