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JMT- Bear Canister Conundrum
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Ronald Rod
(BespokeGear) - F

Locale: Front Range
JMT- Bear Canister Conundrum on 08/08/2011 15:39:37 MDT Print View

Hi All,
I posted this in the food/hydration forum with no luck, so maybe here someone will see it.

My girlfriend and I are heading out to the JMT in September, hiking north to South. We have purchased our food, and made a rough daily itinerary as to where we think we will be hiking.

We are planning to take 6 to 6.5 days (~17 miles) to go from Muir Trail Ranch to Whitney Portal. We have repackaged all of the food the best we can. I just cant quite seem to squish 5.5 days of food for 2 people into the canister (900 cu in Bearikade Expedition).

Here is my question, is it legal to camp and hang a bear bag near Evolution Creek (or any where plus or minus 5 miles)? I don't believe this is in the required canister area, but then again, I am not intimately familiar with the area like some of you. At what point after Muir Trail Ranch, is a no longer legal to hang a bear bag?

If I could hang 1 days worth of food, that first night out, it would mean that we could get by on the entire trip with just one canister. Which would be awesome.

Thanks for you help guys and gals!

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: JMT- Bear Canister Conundrum on 08/08/2011 16:26:44 MDT Print View

If I'm reading This Map correctly then I think you should be fine, but I don't know for sure.

EDIT: I also found This Discussion on the Yahoo JMT Forum mentioning how suitable trees for hanging a bear bag are hard to find.

Edited by csteutterman on 08/08/2011 16:59:09 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: JMT- Bear Canister Conundrum on 08/08/2011 17:27:21 MDT Print View

If I read this right, you are trying to put 11 person-days of food into a 900 cubic inch container. I guess that might be possible, but I generally need at least 100-110 cubic inches per person-day. But that is just me.

It just so happens that I was camped near Evolution Creek (nearer to Colby Meadow) on August 4. Nearly all backpackers who were out for 4-6 days were carrying bear canisters. A few of the thru-hikers were not. The NPS rangers were not roaming around too much, and they were not asking too many questions unless they saw a problem. At the McClure Ranger Station, Ranger Dave from Santa Cruz is pretty laid back. I didn't see any bears at all when I was around there, and nobody else on the trail reported seeing any. The theory was that the bears are all out by the car campgrounds where the pickings are easier.

Frankly, I _think_ you can do what you suggest. When you get down toward Rae Lakes, the game changes slightly.


Ronald Rod
(BespokeGear) - F

Locale: Front Range
RE: JMT- Bear Canister Conundrum on 08/08/2011 19:04:21 MDT Print View

Hey Bob,
You were reading that right. We have 11 person days of food. It is too much to fit into the canister, hence the need to hang for at least this one night.

Chris, Thanks for the map, I had not seen that exact one, but I had seen one similar.

I am just trying to find if it is legal to camp here while hanging a bag. Bob, we would probably be camping nearer to Evolution Creek... did there seem to be trees in that area that would be appropriate for hanging a quality bear bag setup?

Thanks for the help!


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: RE: JMT- Bear Canister Conundrum on 08/08/2011 19:46:57 MDT Print View

Geez, I don't know. I was camped about 150 feet from Evolution Creek near Darwin Creek. To be frank, I did not study the trees for proper limbs. I once spent about twenty years leading backpack trips where we hung bear bags, and I was proficient at it back then. But once bear canisters came out, and then once they became practical, and then once they became semi-required in some places, I have never gone back. In the west end of Evolution near the stream crossing, there were lots of people camping, and then some up nearer the ranger station. At the other end (east) there were almost no people at all, just deer. Of course, the deer will drive you nuts if you don't have your food protected. Also, there are some smaller mammals that will get to your food, e.g. pine martens and long-tailed weasels. You have your best solution, so just go do it.

Assume that some critter will try to climb your tree trunk, go out on the limb, and chew your hanging cord. What are you going to try to do?

I used to tie all of my metal cook gear and pots onto a cord, and then tie it around the tree trunk as high as I could reach. Then I would drop a pebble into each pot. During the night, if you hear that noisemaker, you have a visitor.

Another trick is if you have an old piece of space blanket. You tie that around the tree trunk, and the critter looks at it and thinks, "What is that?"

Just above there at Evolution Lake, there aren't many trees, and just above there, there are no trees at all.


Hart -
(backpackerchick) - MLife

Locale: Planet Earth
Bears on 08/08/2011 20:35:29 MDT Print View

The smart campground bears are being relocated. Never know where you are going to encounter them.

Edited by backpackerchick on 08/08/2011 21:37:28 MDT.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: JMT- Bear Canister Conundrum on 08/08/2011 21:19:07 MDT Print View

I have had 9 days worth of food for 2 in 1 expedition and 1 weekender. That works out to 172 cu in per day for 2. At 5.5 days that makes 946 cu in. I was trying to feed a teenager on that trip, so I bet you can do it. I had to repackage all the freeze-dried stuff to save volume - that made quite a difference. Plus it wouldn't go on the first try - took several attempts to make it. You may have to revise your menus slightly to make it work. And do not be afraid to use force - I leaned on mine with pretty much my full weight to smash it in there.

Kurt Achtenhagen
( - F

Locale: Boulder, CO
re: JMT- Bear Canister Conundrum on 08/14/2011 20:10:51 MDT Print View

Ronald, Have a blast!

I would call the local land managers as they will have a definitive answer for you. From Muir Trail Ranch, you will travel several miles southbound through the Sierra National Forest, and then into Kings Canyon National Park.

I did the same in 2009, and was told that hanging was permitted in that Northern end of Kings Canyon National Park (but, please verify that for yourself.)