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Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique on 12/18/2011 15:26:59 MST Print View

"Jason, there is still a dangling rope that the bear can bite and pull on."

That is always the case with the PCT method, Bob. Bears can bite all they want to no practical effect, and it is hard to envision how a bear could pull on a strand of rope since they do not have opposing thumbs and fingers. Could you describe to me how that might happen?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique on 12/18/2011 15:41:26 MST Print View

"Could you describe to me how that might happen?"

The bear bites the rope until it has a firm grip, then it walks away, pulling the rope down as it goes. A smart dog could do the same thing. The bear just has more muscle.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique on 12/18/2011 15:54:27 MST Print View

"The bear bites the rope until it has a firm grip, then it walks away, pulling the rope down as it goes. A smart dog could do the same thing. The bear just has more muscle."

That is hard to imagine with the thin ropes used in bear bagging. It would simply slip through their teeth like dental floss. In any case, if that had happened, I'm fairly certain we'd have heard of it by now. I haven't heard of anything like that. Have you?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique on 12/18/2011 16:05:13 MST Print View

"That is hard to imagine with the thin ropes used in bear bagging."

Thin ropes are not required for bear bagging.

Years ago, when the first bear canister policy was posted by the NPS in Yosemite, lots of folks continued on with their old bagging techniques. Then, little by little, the bears were successful some of the time. However, the illegal backpackers were not willing to report the incident to NPS, even though that is required. The rangers would arrive much later to survey the debris, so they figured out most of what was going on.

No, I don't have the video.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique on 12/18/2011 16:45:16 MST Print View

"Thin ropes are not required for bear bagging."

OK, I should have said relatively thin ropes are generally used by ULer's for bear bagging, and would be especially recommended for the PCT method where a strand of rope is within reach of Yogi. My point stands that there are no reports that I know of where a bear has taken that strand of rope between his teeth and reefed on it with enough force to bring the bag down. Nor have you provided any evidence to the contrary, so far. I will keep an open mind pending presentation of such evidence.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique on 12/18/2011 17:03:58 MST Print View

Tom, I don't owe you any evidence.

My bear techniques were from two sources. One was my own experience from Yosemite black bears over about thirty years. More importantly was what I learned from a Yosemite ranger. One individual had been a ranger-naturalist working in the Tuolumne Meadows area, and he had done a lot of trail patrol (which means taking corrective actions where he found improper methods in use). He eventually got kicked upstairs and became the head ranger-naturalist for one Yosemite district. Most of what I heard from him came around the period of 1983-1999.

Now, you can say that Yosemite is only one area along the PCT, and that the bears outside of Yosemite are different. I believe that is fairly accurate.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique on 12/18/2011 17:15:24 MST Print View

"Tom, I don't owe you any evidence."

When you make an assertion that a bear can foil the PCT system by grabbing the dangling strand of rope in his mouth and reefing on it until something gives and the bag comes down, you should be able to back it up, particularly since there are no published reports that indicate this has actually occurred. At least not to my knowledge. If you can point to either such reports or your own personal experience it would go a long way toward convincing me, not to mention alerting the community to a weakness in the PCT bagging system. Otherwise, your statements lack credibility.

"My bear techniques were from two sources. One was my own experience from Yosemite black bears over about thirty years. More importantly was what I learned from a Yosemite ranger. One individual had been a ranger-naturalist working in the Tuolumne Meadows area, and he had done a lot of trail patrol (which means taking corrective actions where he found improper methods in use). He eventually got kicked upstairs and became the head ranger-naturalist for one Yosemite district. Most of what I heard from him came around the period of 1983-1999."

What does this have to do with our conversation about bears foiling the PCT bear bagging method?

Edited by ouzel on 12/18/2011 17:27:49 MST.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique on 12/18/2011 18:25:31 MST Print View

"What does this have to do with our conversation about bears foiling the PCT bear bagging method?"

Tom, I wish that you would try to understand my posting before you asked these sorts of questions.

My bear techniques come from two sources. I led Sierra Club backpacking trips in Yosemite for twenty years. It is difficult to do that much and not learn something. The ranger-naturalist that I referred to had spent a lot of time on trail patrol in Yosemite National Park, and the PCT goes right through there. He observed some good behavior, and he also observed some bad behavior, and that is what he had told me about and showed me. There were several techniques for bear bagging, but several of them feature a dangling rope. While on trail patrol, and coming upon a scene with backpackers running around one way and the bears running around the other way, sometimes with the food bag in mouth, a ranger can make some assumptions about who was doing what. When he thought he had a particularly bad example, he had the backpackers describe exactly how they had bear bagged the food, and that is what he had formed his opinions about as to which techniques were good and which were not. Often, the bears had not quite reached the food, but the ranger's observations of ropes and bags meant a lot to me. You can chalk that up to just one ranger's observations. However, if he had been some crank, then I doubt that he would have been promoted to be the head ranger-naturalist, so I accept his stories at face value. Ranger-naturalists do not have to be specially trained as wildlife biologists, but they do tend to see the interactions between park visitors and the park wildlife. This next part may be legend, but the black bears in Yosemite were once thought to be the most skillful at stealing food from humans. It seemed that there was a generation-to-generation skill learning going on with the bears, so the mother bears taught the cubs. The bear canister program that went into effect more than ten years ago had intentions of breaking that learning among bears. The solitary bears who live farther out away from people don't seem to have that skill going so well. Maybe it was only Yosemite bears that were smart enough to bite and pull a rope, but I doubt it.

I did a six-day trip in the park with the ranger. Each night, sitting around the campfire, we discussed the topics such as proper techniques to use for bagging.

Alas, now with federal budget cutbacks, there isn't so much trail patrol going on, so there are fewer rangers with the time to observe how effective the various techniques have become on a more current basis.

--B.G.--

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: hang technique, new/old information on 12/18/2011 19:33:11 MST Print View

On an unrelated matter, I was browsing the web site for Inyo National Forest. As we know, Inyo butts up against the national parks in land adjacent to or else right along the JMT section of the PCT. First and foremost, Inyo promotes the use of bear canisters. On the righthand sidebar, I noticed graphics for the alternative food storage method for areas that have no canister requirement. That food hanging technique that they show has no dangling lines, and somewhere at the bottom, they give credit to Yosemite National Park (which does not currently find food hanging to be sufficient).

How do you spell federal inconsistency?

--B.G.--

Brian Austin
(footeab) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique on 12/18/2011 19:36:34 MST Print View

I highly doubt there are fewer rangers than 10 years ago. If there are its because they are all busy placing parking tickets and collecting fees instead of actually helping people and the environment. Or conversely filling out paperwork on how many fees they collected. At least this is what has happened here.

Personally, I believe the bear stories. Have seen or been told by people of bears doing similar things or coons or squirrels or chipmunks.

A little judicious bear hunting goes a long ways to curtail the problem. Used to have bear problems getting into garbage cans locally. Some local folks got fed up by the inaction of the morons in the bureaucracy and took matters into their own hands and did some judicious bear hunting. Killed one bear and spread their carcass for the other bears to sniff and see. The rest of the bears got shotguns loaded not with slugs, but shot, with a backup guy with a slug in the chamber ready to fire. We still have the bears, but said bears are now circumspect and limited in their pilferings.

Wounded bear teaches best. Teaching fear of humans teaches best in the animal kingdom.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: skilman/pct hang technique@ B.G. on 12/19/2011 17:32:33 MST Print View

"Tom, I wish that you would try to understand my posting before you asked these sorts of questions."

Bob - Our discussion began with your comment to Jason that the modified PCT hanging system he referred to left a strand of rope dangling within reach of a bear, with the implication that this rendered the system vulnerable. I asked you to explain your reasoning. When you replied that all a bear had to do was grab the strand in its mouth and start pulling, I expressed skepticism and asked you for supporting evidence. You replied that you didn't owe me any, which turned my skepticism to outright disbelief. Now you ask me to try to understand your posting and then digress into one of your trademark expositions on your many years of experience, complete with anecdotes about a ranger/naturalist's experience of undefined sloppy bear bagging that left a strand of rope dangling down, but without any reference to the PCT BAGGING SYSTEM we are supposed to be discussing. What is there for me to understand? You continue to evade my requests for supporting evidence for your assertion that the single strand of rope dangling down in all variants of the PCT bagging method renders it vulnerable. Instead you lapse into vague generalities, intermixed with anecdotes about the "good old days" and your extensive experience that have nothing to do with the PCT method. It is frustrating, to say the least. If you have solid evidence that the PCT method is vulnerable, I sincerely request that you share it with those of us who regularly use it. Otherwise, why not just let it go and stop wasting our time?

"My bear techniques come from two sources. I led Sierra Club backpacking trips in Yosemite for twenty years. It is difficult to do that much and not learn something. The ranger-naturalist that I referred to had spent a lot of time on trail patrol in Yosemite National Park, and the PCT goes right through there. He observed some good behavior, and he also observed some bad behavior, and that is what he had told me about and showed me. There were several techniques for bear bagging, but several of them feature a dangling rope. While on trail patrol, and coming upon a scene with backpackers running around one way and the bears running around the other way, sometimes with the food bag in mouth, a ranger can make some assumptions about who was doing what. When he thought he had a particularly bad example, he had the backpackers describe exactly how they had bear bagged the food, and that is what he had formed his opinions about as to which techniques were good and which were not. Often, the bears had not quite reached the food, but the ranger's observations of ropes and bags meant a lot to me. You can chalk that up to just one ranger's observations. However, if he had been some crank, then I doubt that he would have been promoted to be the head ranger-naturalist, so I accept his stories at face value. Ranger-naturalists do not have to be specially trained as wildlife biologists, but they do tend to see the interactions between park visitors and the park wildlife. This next part may be legend, but the black bears in Yosemite were once thought to be the most skillful at stealing food from humans. It seemed that there was a generation-to-generation skill learning going on with the bears, so the mother bears taught the cubs. The bear canister program that went into effect more than ten years ago had intentions of breaking that learning among bears. The solitary bears who live farther out away from people don't seem to have that skill going so well. Maybe it was only Yosemite bears that were smart enough to bite and pull a rope, but I doubt it.

I did a six-day trip in the park with the ranger. Each night, sitting around the campfire, we discussed the topics such as proper techniques to use for bagging.

Alas, now with federal budget cutbacks, there isn't so much trail patrol going on, so there are fewer rangers with the time to observe how effective the various techniques have become on a more current basis."

I include the above for emphasis. The fact that the PCT runs through Yosemite NP does not do much to support your implication that the PCT method is vulnerable, and there is nothing else in the post that specifically refers to ANY bear bagging system, let alone the PCT method.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique@ B.G. on 12/19/2011 18:16:41 MST Print View

Tom, I've given this some thought. I think it would be best if you use the PCT technique everywhere.

As for anybody else, there is the suggested method on the Inyo NF web site.

The PCT runs though Yosemite. Therefore (I would assume) that some backpackers have been using that PCT method in Yosemite. That's probably what my friend the park ranger had referred to, but he was anti- any method that left a dangling rope. People picking up a wilderness permit in Yosemite used to be given a brochure that illustrated the same suggested method. People coming from elsewhere, like hiking the entire PCT, would never see that suggestion since they didn't need to get a permit right there.

--B.G.--

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: skilman/pct hang technique@ B.G. on 12/19/2011 19:38:35 MST Print View

"Tom, I've given this some thought. I think it would be best if you use the PCT technique everywhere."

Bob - Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I will certainly give it the weight it deserves when deciding how to hang my food, on those rare occasions when that becomes necessary.

"As for anybody else, there is the suggested method on the Inyo NF web site."

Listen up, Junior Woodchucks. The PCT method has definitively been consigned to the dustbin of history. ;=)

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Ultralight Tip of the Week on 12/20/2011 15:08:05 MST Print View

If a post involving a naturalist, a rope, bears, food, the PCT trail, and the bonus paragraphs doesn't convince you to stop using the PCT method, try asking for first hand accounts of failure.

You won't find any. Not only does the pct method let bears get your food, it also teaches them to get you.

100% of unsuccessful PCT method hangs resulted in the death of the camper. This is why you never hear of failures, only vague stories of carnage told by rangers relayed second hand thru the Internet.

If you value your life, avoid the pct method.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Ultralight Tip of the Week on 12/20/2011 17:15:07 MST Print View

"You won't find any. Not only does the pct method let bears get your food, it also teaches them to get you.

100% of unsuccessful PCT method hangs resulted in the death of the camper. This is why you never hear of failures, only vague stories of carnage told by rangers relayed second hand thru the Internet.

If you value your life, avoid the pct method."

;=)) LOFL

C Nugget
(nuggetwn)

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Weekly Tip... Get the book it's a great read. on 12/21/2011 06:13:22 MST Print View

I love this book!!! Could no longer be teased by the weekly tips. There are just some things that you don't think of... Hot sauce lid.. really really awesome!! I read it cover to cover then started all over again. It's great if you want to pick at your pack weight and contemplate the reason's behind going lighter.. and lighter... and lighter....

About bears...
We should not be putting the scare of bears in the forum, they have enough problems having to deal with us on the trail. A fed bear is a dead bear even if it's a humans fault. Be pro-active. Get informed and do your part to keep bears (and yourself) safe. Each regions regulations are different and so are the bears in them. I think this fits with Clelland's ultralight philosophy... even if it means carrying a bear canister. Don't argue educate... and don't just read a great ultralite tip (book) for bear guidance.


BEAR SPRAY should never be a replacement for alertness and avoidance.


If you haven't read it yet... get it.

"Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance" Stephen Herrero.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Weekly Tip... Get the book it's a great read. on 12/21/2011 10:35:02 MST Print View

"BEAR SPRAY should never be a replacement for alertness and avoidance."

+1 to Christy-Lynn

Making a lot of noise weighs nothing and all the data I've seen, such Herrero's, suggests noise from a group or individual is the biggest factor in avoiding bear incidents. Big groups are FAR safer. (I think) because big groups are far noisier than individuals and pairs.

While there's no objective data suggesting guns help the human's outcome, bear spray does seem to be a help.

Okay, now to kick off a debate: We bring lightweight tents, stoves, clothes, packs, etc. None of which are as roomy, tough, or high-performing as their heavier-weight counterparts. We accept those limitation, sometimes even revelling in them. So why bring a 12 ounce item that does not keep you warm or fed? When there are 2 ounce jogger versions? Yeah, not effective at as large a distance, but if that made you be a little more aware of your surroundings and make a little more noise, you'd be safer as a result.

I'm not arguing for that - I make noise myself rather than carry seasoning - but it seems consistent with our other gear choices.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
this weeks bear spray tip is flawed. on 12/21/2011 12:15:25 MST Print View

my op.

bear spray is best mounted on the upper section of the packstrap, NOT on the packbelt.
it wants to be on the side of your major arm (right .. left.. ?), and high enough you can pull the safety with your teeth.
mount aiming it outwards at about 60°. to keep it secure, it takes a couple of straps with sticky stuff sewed inside of them to make sure it's still there when you need it.

packstrap mounting, in my op, gives one the best access to this vital item even is one is knocked over by a bruin.
in that event, your hands would almost by necessity be near your face, and you could deploy the spray, even at the ground, sufficiently enough to fog the area.
close your eyes and deal with it. is better than getting ate ! eh ?

besides, things on the packbelt hang up and get knocked off in the brush.

that bearspray may not serve one best hanging on the back of the pack,, is yes.. perfectly correct.

cheers,
v.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
sizes on 12/21/2011 20:17:11 MST Print View

Reply to Thomas
===========

About the size of the bear spray can. I have recently seen a slightly smaller sized can, so you would save a few ounces.

I would be very concerned about the small sized jogger spry cans in certain terrain. It might be appropriate, but I simply don't know.

I know two people who have been mauled by Grizzlies, and for both of them it happened right outside their homes. Both are lucky to be alive, and both have scars on their heads.

I love living near a big Wilderness (Yellowstone NP and Grand Teton NP) and I love that it is WILD. There is a different feel to being out there in a place where there are big predators.

8 fl. oz = 11oz. weight (230 gm)

10.2 fl. oz = 15oz. weight (290 gm)

? fl. oz = 7.9 oz. weight (225 gm)

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
tip #116 on 12/28/2011 06:11:53 MST Print View

And we finally get to Mike C's true, hidden agenda. I propose that this entire book is really just an pretense to perpetuate this meme. (Mike C is secretly a memetic engineer.) I find myself fighting a nigh-uncontrollable urge to stockpile Douglas fir cones and slightly pointy river rocks.

Discuss amongst yourselves.