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Keith Bassett
(keith_bassett)

Locale: Pacific NW
Radio as Bear Bell on 01/27/2012 14:08:58 MST Print View

I noticed that some of the rangers use cheapo transistor radios blaring music as bear bells when they are hiking at night up here in the PNW.

The instance that stands out is when a couple of rangers came shooting down the trail in the alpine lakes wilderness at about 2-3 am, checking on folks' sitess right before a big nasty storm came in.

I don't love music on the trail, but this actually seems like a pretty good idea. Loud music is definitely not a natural sound and probably does the job better than the bell, for not much more weight. And it is dual use, if you are out for a while and want to check on a weather forecast etc.

Thoughts on this? Too obnoxious? Not worth the extra 4 or 5 ozs?

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Radio as Bear Bell on 01/27/2012 14:17:40 MST Print View

Yes, obnoxious. Difficult to charge/replace batteries on a thru hike. Fine in a pinch or for higher-risk stuff like the night-time example you gave.

Talking is free, weighs nothing and works quite well. The upside is you can turn it off when you've got good sightlines or things are otherwise low risk. The downside is that I sometimes get lost in my thoughts on a solo hike and don't start yakking it up when I should. My wife is much better at noting the confluence of poor sightlines, berries, and background water/wind noise and she consistently starts calling out in those settings. Numerous times, we've crested the rise or turned the corner to see the bear already heading away.

The best view of wildlife is the south end of a northward bound grizzly.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 01/27/2012 14:18:35 MST.

Keith Bassett
(keith_bassett)

Locale: Pacific NW
Singing on 01/27/2012 14:50:48 MST Print View

I often sing when I am solo, as it feels less weird than talking to myself. But as you mentioned, I get so engrossed in the surroundings that I can sometimes forget that I am heading into a rockfall filled with blueberry bushes. Etc.

I was unbelievably annoyed when they rolled past me and woke me up, especially when they just said "They'll be fine, keep going." But as you noted, they must have been using them for a reason during the night.

I have yet to encounter a bear, other than hearing one bat my vault around 400' feet or so from me. So I can't comment on the bear heading the other way but I am pretty sure I agree with you.

Anybody else sing on trail, or have other clever ideas?

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Radio as Bear Bell on 01/27/2012 15:03:11 MST Print View

Those rangers would have heard some extremely loud and indignant noises from me!

I often talk to my dog, plus my trekking poles make some noise. I seldom hike in grizz country, and black bears in the Pacific NW (at least outside national parks) are extremely shy, since they're hunted for almost half the year.

When I am in grizz country, I will start singing or whistling when approaching a blind corner. Most of the time, I keep my volume (talking or singing) quite low, so as not to disturb those around me. The idea of blaring radios in the wilderness horrifies and angers me--I go there to get away from such things!

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Radio as Bear Bell on 01/27/2012 16:35:14 MST Print View

Just don't use a bear bell. They're definitely not loud enough. Bears actually don't have a great sense of hearing. We have to tell tourists all the time around here that they're just a novelty item, and they don't provide any real sense of safety. Typically, though, I only see people using them on trails that are so populated the griz are usually way away from.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Radio as Bear Bell on 01/27/2012 16:36:07 MST Print View

Talking is free, weighs nothing and works quite well. The upside is you can turn it off when you've got good sightlines or things are otherwise low risk. The downside is that I sometimes get lost in my thoughts on a solo hike and don't start yakking it up when I should. My wife is much better at noting the confluence of poor sightlines, berries, and background water/wind noise and she consistently starts calling out in those settings. Numerous times, we've crested the rise or turned the corner to see the bear already heading away.

This reminded me of a Japanese documentary on cultures around the world where divorce rates are extremely low or nonexistent. One area in Indonesia where the populace lives in longhouses, with huge extended families all under one roof and considerable problems with tension between people, has an old tradition of requiring that a husband and wife, each afternoon, head out together to hunt for food. Though the hunting for food is not entirely necessary, the activity of cooperating in a dangerous place (lots of big wild animals like tigers), calling out to one another to ensure each other's safety and for finding food, so that they are truly reliant upon one another for survival, seems to work very well in daily reminding the couple how they are dependent upon one another and each person's presence remains meaningful.

In China there is an area where, whenever something important or momentous needs to be discussed between spouses, they are required to sing it. The singing forces them to be mindful of what and how they are saying what they need to say, plus forces the speakers to control their anger.

Here in Japan all train engineers and conductors and platform conductors are required to speak out in a falsetto voice (either higher sound, or purposefully more nasal) and indicate with their hands any safety concern, including pointing and sweeping the hand along the line of the platform up toward the front of the platform, singing out what controls they are moving or changing in the driver's compartment, announcing the opening and closing of doors, checking the platform camera and CCTV, and ringing the set off bell. By requiring expressing what they are seeing and doing they stay focused. The accident rate, while not perfect, is extremely low compared to other countries. The Bullet Train has never had an accident in its 50-year history, with over 4 billion passengers transported (151 million passengers a year). That's pretty impressive!

Anyway, I sing quite a lot when I'm hiking. Here in Japan you have Asian Black Bears which are mainly shy like those in North America and up north the Brown Bear, which is a cousin of the Grizzly. You also get WIld Boar and Snow Monkeys which can be very aggressive. I've often come face-to-face with Wild Boars (especially at night) and Snow Monkeys and usually the singing is enough to deter them. Like in the popular tourist spots in Yosemite, the habituated Snow Monkeys are the worst. They can't kill you, but they sure do a good job of scaring you!

Richard Brownkatz
(Rbrownkatz) - F

Locale: Southeast
Radio on 02/01/2012 10:28:39 MST Print View

Hey, that's why I get away from other people and go into the woods; So I can listen to other people's music in the middle of the night.