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Sleeping with your food in the Wind River Range
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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Sleeping with your food in the Wind River Range on 08/09/2011 08:38:12 MDT Print View

I'm planning a trip there soon. We're planning on camping above treeline several times, so we didn't want to count on being able to hang food. My hiking partners are both in favor of bringing bear canisters - we've been told there is more bear activity than the areas we're familiar with (SW Colorado in particular).

Can anyone with experience in the Winds (or just bear country in general) comment on how they go about deciding how to deal with their food? What is your tipping point that would make you bring a bear canister if hanging a bag isn't an option?

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Sleeping with your food in the Wind River Range on 08/09/2011 11:36:44 MDT Print View

No experience there myself. I would never sleep with my food in grizzly country. I do in black bear country, but only in winter.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Sleeping with your food in the Wind River Range on 08/09/2011 13:19:16 MDT Print View

Legally, you have to hang your food or use an approved bear canister, under the food storage orders in effect in both the Bridger and the Shoshone (the latter found after over an hour of searching their website) National Forests. Above timberline, there are usually plenty of big boulders.

In June of this year, a grizzly bear was spotted near the Middle Fork Popo Agie trail above Lander. The sighting was from a hunter's trail camera and has been confirmed by the Wyoming Game & Fish Dept. In view of this sighting, you can safely assume that grizz may turn up anywhere in the Winds, not just in the northern half where there have been multiple sightings.

There have also been black bear problems in the Big Sandy Lake area, Cirque of the Towers, Dickenson Park/Smith Lakes and the Golden Lakes area. If people would stop assuming that "there are no bear problems in the Winds so I can keep my food in my tent or pack," none of these would ever have happened.

I would never sleep with my food anywhere. If the bears don't get it sooner or later, the local rodents will--probably sooner!

Edited by hikinggranny on 08/09/2011 14:45:39 MDT.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
hanging food on 08/09/2011 15:44:26 MDT Print View

Mary, you're right - a little digging does show that both the Bridger-Teton and Shoshone NFs have requirements to either hang 10ft up or use bear cans.

That probably makes my original post irrelevant, but I'm still curious as to how people make those decisions in places where discretion is allowed.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: hanging food on 08/09/2011 15:50:34 MDT Print View

I've slept with my food right next to me in Oregon

Rodents had a nice snack

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: hanging food on 08/09/2011 16:10:50 MDT Print View

I don't know that specific country, so I don't know. However, if you need to hang your food and you have no decent trees, you can do a cliff-hang. Generally you want to have the food bag hanging out on a steep cliff and supported by at least two cords. Ideally, the food bag is hanging in free space, and the animals would have to downclimb the cords to get to your food. Animals have trouble doing this, and they can't find rock shoes that fit their furry paws.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: hanging food on 08/09/2011 17:14:39 MDT Print View

In places where it is open to using any method I would choose an Ursack over bear bagging any day. It gives you rodent protection and above tree line protection.
Canisters though do buy a lot of safety and protection for their (heavy) weight.
With Grizzlies though I don't take that lightly.

Mark Mendell
(mmendell) - M

Locale: Midwest
Sleeping with food in the Winds on 08/09/2011 17:34:41 MDT Print View

I was headed up over Haley Pass 2 years ago, walked all day through hail and rain. I reached a lake on the west side of the pass just above the timber line. Exhausted, hungry, and fighting gale-force winds, I cooked dinner in my tent and slept with my food, assuming I was high enough to be out of bear territory.

I woke to a beautiful morning, fished a bit, and walked over the pass. On my descent, I rounded a corner...still above timber, and spotted the rear end of my first grizzly headed into the brush just in front of me. Checking my altimeter, I made the inspired commitment to NEVER sleep with my food again! I was at the same elevation I had camped the night before.

Find a boulder or use an Ursack.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: hanging food on 08/09/2011 17:37:30 MDT Print View

Sarah, using the Ursack, we need a boil-in-bag recipe for _rodent_au_jus_.

I keep thinking how fat those marmots look. There might be some good meat on those bones.


Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Ursack also illegal in the Wind River Range on 08/09/2011 17:45:43 MDT Print View

I use an Ursack (plus OP sack) too, Sarah, because I can't throw (arthritis and lack of skill) and therefore can't hang my food. However, even though I have used it there (shhh!), the Ursack is not a legal method of food storage in Wyoming's Wind Rivers. I won't recommend it for use there for that reason.

Actually, my Bearikade Weekender (bought for the Olympic NP coast) is also illegal in the Winds, because California-centric Wild Ideas has never tried to get approval from the IGBC (Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee). So in the Winds I'm illegal no matter what I do!

On the other hand, the hanging method recommended in the previously mentioned Food Storage Order for the Winds is extremely simple for a bear to overcome (no counter balance, no PCT method, just throw the bag over a branch and tie the end of the rope to the tree trunk. For laughs (especially if you know Sierra bears), go to the Bridger Teton National Forest home page, click "Recreation" on the left, then click "Food Storage Requirements" on the right, then click "Food Storage Basics" and check the illustrations. (That's easier than trying to quote the yards-long URL on the new USFS websites.)

It's the folks who make no effort at securing their food from bears, rodents and other varmints that bother me. If a grizz comes after them in the night or a marmot chews a big hole in their tent, they deserve what they get, although the bear (which will end up being shot) doesn't. But the rest of us will have to cope with the aggressive backpacker-fed critters they leave in their wake!

Tyler H
(ctwnwood) - F

Locale: The Palouse
Sleeping with it=bad Bear cache=good on 08/09/2011 17:46:48 MDT Print View

As has been clearly stated, there are definitely bears in the Winds. Sleeping with your food would be a poor choice. Rodents are another good point, unless you're under a tarp it seems like inviting holes in your gear.

When I backpacked in northern BC backcountry, actually working on a project looking for bears, we had a canister but it wasn't big enough to hold food for 4. Very shortsighted on our part.

We used the 'bear cache' technique which I've also used extensively in the BWCA and southern Manitoba.
-First you put your food in all the plastic you have to cut down smell, then you wrap it up tight in a pack and wrap your pack in whatever else you have (like an extra tarp if you're canoeing, in your case idk).
-To finish it you haphazardly stack whatever noisy cook-kit like objects you have to create an 'alarm' if anything should tamper. In black bear country, I want to scare away the bear and save my food.

There is definitely some optimism and faith in this set-up but the only time my food has been stolen was using a hang.
(Edit: if anybody wants the diatribe against hangs, let me know, otherwise I'll spare us.)

That, and carrying bear spray, is my suggestion.

Edited by ctwnwood on 08/09/2011 17:48:47 MDT.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Sleeping with it=bad Bear cache=good on 08/09/2011 18:09:33 MDT Print View

I know what we need.

Get a standard bear hang going. Let's say that the food bags are ten feet up and ten feet out. Let's figure out a system where the bear spray is mounted somewhere around the hang rope, and if the bear gets too close to it, the bear spray is triggered. That might discourage bears. Of course, black bears are the tree-climbers, and they aren't that dangerous. Brown bears are dangerous, but they can't climb trees that well.

There was a theory that went around thirty years ago. We would hang our food, and then we placed a couple of moth balls inside the top of each food bag. The idea was that it would mask the food smell from bears. Well, some enterprising Yosemite black bears got some hung food anyway, and they noticed these spicy/smelly balls as they ate it all. Then they figured that it was a sign to the next food, so they started sniffing around just for moth balls. It took bears a couple of generations to get over that.


Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Thanks on 08/09/2011 18:55:08 MDT Print View

The idea I had originally was closer to the "bear cache" than simply "cram it in a stuffsack and use it as a pillow". The way I phrased it (sleeping with your food) wasn't terribly clear.

Thanks to all for the feedback - I got a definitive answer to my original question, and some great food for thought (not for bears) on the rest.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re:Roasted Rodent Delite! on 08/09/2011 22:36:12 MDT Print View

One night I layed in my tent, looking up at my rainfly. For hours I had endured little faces looking at me through the mesh.

There was what seemed an entire colony of squirrels running under my tent's fly. Back and forth, using the poles. Little claws on the fabric. I was so tired. I'd hit the walls and the stupid rodents would fall off, but back they would come. "WEEEEEE!!!!!!!!"

I dreamt that night of a fantastic fur coat I was sewing. It was a luscious coat indeed. Made of squirrel pelts sewn tail to nose and paw to paw, lined in the finest silk. And decorated with chipmunks for the fringe around the bottom.

One night at Rainier I awoke to a horrid sound. It was a Marmot rubbing against my tent, under my rainfly. Trying to get my trekking poles.

I dreamt later about sticking 2 sticks in it and spit roasting that animal.

A nice fire pit, some fresh green sticks and an annoying Marmot? I suggest serving with a pan of lightly sauteed wild ramps and a luscious hucklebbery sauce served over pound cake for dessert.


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re:Roasted Rodent Delite! on 08/09/2011 22:48:14 MDT Print View

We need a recipe to go along with this photo!


I think this might be a golden mantled ground squirrel. It was much larger than a chipmunk, but it was different from a Beldings ground squirrel. The recipe might have to be altered for that. Of course, a marmot might serve two or three.

Stuffing would be with croutons and pine nuts, with a light cream sauce of dill and sage.


Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
Far worse when they band together on 08/09/2011 23:53:05 MDT Print View

Rodents twain

This pair chased me for at least 100 yards.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Far worse when they band together on 08/09/2011 23:58:14 MDT Print View

No matter how bloodthirsty they seem, just remember that they are herbivores.


Rick Horne
(Rick778) - M

Locale: NorCal - South Bay - Campbell
Re: Re: Re:Roasted Rodent Delite! on 08/10/2011 09:24:25 MDT Print View

Thats one fat squirrel :-)

Andrew Wolff

Locale: Chattanooga
Winds food hanging on 08/13/2011 21:33:49 MDT Print View

Bob, that squirrel looks delicious whatever he is - big fat fellow.

Ben, I was in the winds last year and never had trouble finding a good cliff hang above treeline.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Sleeping with your food in the Wind River Rang on 08/13/2011 23:47:30 MDT Print View

Sleeping anywhere with a chance of grizzly is idiotic.
Black bears... unless you aren't in prime black bear "country" then it's probably alright. People carry around shotguns in grizzly country, but hardly ever in black bear country. Keep that in mind..