Forum Index » Philosophy & Technique » Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country


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Art ...
(asandh) - F
Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 09:29:14 MDT Print View

scenario :

Sierras, land of the friendly black bear.
fast 2 day push so you want to go SUL (meaning no bear can).
you have just your food, clothing and a light bivy for a 5 hour nap.
you sleep with your food inside the bivy, mostly bars and powders, to keep it from the squirrels and bugs.
the bivy is below 10,000 ft so an increased chance of those friendly furry guys.

any perceived issues ?

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 09:45:38 MDT Print View

Any perceived issues?

only that you could be mauled by a bear... no big deal, really

billy

Erik G
(fox212) - F

Locale: THE Bay Area :)
Issues on 03/19/2014 09:51:02 MDT Print View

Well stated above...lol. That's about the only issue I perceive.

Why not hang it? Would a few oz for some cord put you over the SUL mark? ;) Or will you be above treeline?

Edited by fox212 on 03/19/2014 09:55:55 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 09:52:58 MDT Print View

Been there, done that. (And certainly not the first)

Initially I was pretty nervous. Now I'm only a little nervous. ;-)

Sleep high, away from the usual campsites, etc ....

Edited by greg23 on 03/19/2014 10:24:27 MDT.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country" on 03/19/2014 10:17:41 MDT Print View

Hang it. Above tree line, find a cliff face. Or jam up a crack and stash it there.

Alone in a bivy with sugary food? Why not just smear yourself with honey too?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: "Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country" on 03/19/2014 10:31:16 MDT Print View

"Why not hang it..."

...well when it's dark, and cold, and you are toasted, and planning on being down fast for only a short amount of time, dinking around for a hang can be overwhelming.

If there happens to a perfect limb silhouetted against the sky, I'll give it a shot. Otherwise, I'm going to go to sleep....right now.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Not in the Park on 03/19/2014 10:35:05 MDT Print View

Because you may not only have to worry about bears, but also rangers.

If the rangers find you in a national park without a bear can, you will sleep well, knowing that you have contributed a hefty fine to our national park service.

I once woke up with a bear sniffing my face. (I suspect it was the minty toothpaste that had attracted it). It went away...thankfully. Later that same night, the bear (a sow with cub) ripped into a tent with two women and some food inside. The women ended up in the hospital.

I always use a bear can or hang my food. And I don't think that I am somehow specially protected from harm. Or dumb people.

d k
(dkramalc) - MLife
Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 10:35:25 MDT Print View

"Any perceived issues?

only that you could be mauled by a bear... no big deal, really"

This happened to someone we (my boyfriend and I) know, who should have known better - a Sierra Club leader with many years experience. He was sleeping with his food ( above 10000 ft, by the way) on a cross country route, and when a bear came for the food nest to him he sat up suddenly, as one would tend to do when startled by a bear. The bear in turn was startled and raked one paw on either side of his face, leading to him being airlifted to a hospital. Luckily he was with others who could summon help.

( edited to clarify "we" and add detail - thanks to mtnmark)

There's also the possible outcome of one of those friendly furry guys having to be killed because you wanted to forego bear-safe food storage to be SUL. I also vote for hanging food at the least. If it's an area with canisters required, then use one.

Edited by dkramalc on 03/20/2014 08:46:55 MDT.

Mitchell Ebbott
(mebbott) - F - M

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 10:38:38 MDT Print View

I know their absolute effectiveness has been questioned, but it couldn't hurt to store your food in an odor-proof bag. I picked up a few from LiteTrail, they're pretty inexpensive. At the very least, it's kept my gear from smelling like peanuts.

If you're cooking, don't cook where you're sleeping.

It could also help to talk to the rangers beforehand. Last time I was in Sequoia they gave me a rundown of where the most recent bear encounters had been.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 10:45:12 MDT Print View

my main reason for this thread is to understand just how aggressive Sierra black bears can be. I have done this before but always slept high above tree level and never encountered a bear. this time the bivy will be below tree level in known bear country.
my thoughts are similar to those Greg just posted above,
but I am willing to take precautions if called for.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 11:12:39 MDT Print View

Well, Sleeping with your food in bear country is a lot like playing Russian Roulette five times with a five shot pistol. It is not a matter of "if", more a matter of "when." Your odds are less each time you practice this. Though, I admit to doing so on a treeless peak when I didn't have a bear ball.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Sierra Bears on 03/19/2014 11:15:18 MDT Print View

Black bears in the Sierra are aggressive when and where they are in contact with people who allow them to begin to associate people with free high-calorie food. That happens most often in car campgrounds--but it also happens wherever there are lots of backpackers: Little Yosemite Valley is an obvious example. There are lots of others.

You might wonder how those bears have become so accustomed to associating food with backpackers. It's because in those areas there are so many people who ignore the warnings that bears have often found food near people. And now they expect that.

Don't give them additional incentive.

Follow the rules. They require cans in some areas, and require you to hang your food safely everywhere in the Sierra.

And how aggressive can they be? I've seen them tear the sunroof off a car, and knock backpackers out of the way as they forced their way into a campsite. They can be a lot more aggressive than is comfortable for you.

And when they get that aggressive, the park service usually has to kill them.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 11:18:24 MDT Print View

Not to mention that your plan makes it worse for the rest of us. Do the right thing.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 11:19:15 MDT Print View

"Your odds are less each time you practice this."

Not quite.

The results of a hundred "tests" will reflect those odds, but for each test the odds are the same.

Michael Driscoll
(Hillhikerz) - M

Locale: Monterey Bay
sleep with your food or ! on 03/19/2014 11:23:18 MDT Print View

While camping in the Dinky Lakes area a few years ago a group near by put there food in a mesh bag with a rock and sunk it out in the lake with the line (looked to be 3mm yellow dyneema) tied to a rock off shore... It worked that night...

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 11:24:49 MDT Print View

"Your odds are less each time you practice this."

Not quite.

The results of a hundred "tests" will reflect those odds, but for each test the odds are the same.


The odds will increase as you get more food smells worked into you bivy-- like a big ol' Yogi Granola Bar. You will attract rodents too, and they will chew into your precious bivy with wild abandon.

If you know there are such issues and the solutions, why even bother asking? They don't make the requirements for some perverse joy: you risk your own safety as well as others and impact the bears too.

Rick Adams
(rickadams100) - M
bears like taco bell on 03/19/2014 11:41:30 MDT Print View

So, I hired a fishing guide years ago in Eldorado NF who told a good story. One night he showed up at the boat ramp before midnight to take a client out at 5am. Picked up a burrito supreme for dinner and another for breakfast. Slept in the bed of his truck with the burrito near his feet to keep it from geting too cold. Woke up in the middle of the night being dragged out of his truck by a bear with a mouthful of burrito and sleeping bag. Scary....

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 11:43:56 MDT Print View

I think this only insures that you will reliably be a few feet away when the bear investigate your food smells. The example of black bears taking off if people are near or yell at them is probably the wrong one here. Better to consider how politely (or not) bears retreat once they know food is at stake or in their possession. You can live without an arm, but you will be heartbroken when you cuben shelter and/or pack gets ripped to shreds.

Though I recognize this isn't really a big issue if you are going for a speed record, since no one has brought it up, in a lot of places you probably shouldn't sleep with your food even if there are no bears, and have a plan for keeping it secure and dry outside your shelter/vicinity. Racoons and rodents are a lot less scary, but they are more stealthy and will chew through your tent and/or food bag faster than you can say "procyon lotor". Even if the tent and food bag are secure I have a personal phobia of rodents scampering on me in the night, especially across my face for some reason. Better that they scamper over my Ursack tied to a branch well away from me.

PS The story about the bag in the lake cracked me up.

Edited by millonas on 03/19/2014 12:19:29 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: bears like taco bell on 03/19/2014 11:44:05 MDT Print View

"One night he showed up at the boat ramp before midnight to take a client out at 5am.....Woke up in the middle of the night being dragged out of his truck by a bear...."

Yep, smart and well trained bear. Now the guide on the other hand....

Aaron Sorensen
(awsorensen) - MLife

Locale: South of Forester Pass
Re: Re: Sleeping Wth Your Food in Black Bear Country on 03/19/2014 12:01:02 MDT Print View

Art,

I have been in this situation on the JMT.
Trying to break the unsupported record, I was going North Bound coming down the Golden Staircase. It was about 1,500 feet below the top where it flattens out a little and has spongy wet moss over about a 1/4 mile area.

There was someone in a tent pitched near the edge and I thought, there is no freaking way there will be any bears out here. It took a few different spots of finding a place to sleep without getting wet, but I had not slept since the start.

I plopped down in my bivy for a 1 1/2 hour nap and used my 15-liter pack (filled with about 9 pounds of food) as a pillow.

I was asleep within 5 minutes and within 10 minutes I was woken by a bear sniffing my face.


I can easily get away without a canister on the JMT. I just push strait thou the areas required to have a canister without sleep.
This means getting some sleep before the fence line 2 miles south of Vidette and pushing through to Mather and only sleeping at Reds or Tuolumne while in Yosemite.

All I can say is that I absolutely hang now.
You work out prior to the trip where you want to sleep in areas you can hang.

I'm sorry but a 5-hour nap is not a nap when you are pushing, it's a good nights sleep.
Why would it be so hard to just keep going when you are ready to go to sleep until you find a place to hang?

You can hang your pack on just about anything with the tiny, lightweight pack you'll have.

If every bear knows it can get you food, they will all become more aggressive in getting it.
This is why all the rules are there in the first place.
With bad practice, there will have to be a need for even more strict rules.
This is something no one wants.

Be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Edited by awsorensen on 03/19/2014 12:11:14 MDT.