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Bear Boxes in The Sierra's
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Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Bear Boxes in The Sierra's on 08/02/2005 19:07:46 MDT Print View

I have two cannisters and one Ursack. I love hiking in Yosemite and Seki. My question is this, with all of the bear boxes in the Sierra's can I just use the boxes sans cannister? Would a ranger give me grief if I was storing my food in one of those boxes. The Rae Lakes Loop and other areas have boxes strategically placed along the trail. I am curious if they would want to open my pack or if I explained my intentions they would let me go on.

Edited by kennyhel77 on 08/02/2005 19:08:18 MDT.

Jim Busick
(earthroamer) - F
Re: Bear Boxes in The Sierra's on 08/03/2005 10:45:33 MDT Print View

Here are the food storage regulations:

Although I was not stopped on the Rae Lakes Loop, the ranger checked us before we started for bear canisters and another hiker on the trail reported that he saw the ranger stopping people and checking. The fines are stiff.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
bear boxes on 08/03/2005 11:02:42 MDT Print View

I too have been checked. I think the lightweight community might suffer from this more because we tend to have smaller packs. I was wondering if you were doing, lets say The Rae Lakes Loop, the boxes are placed in all of the heavy camping areas, would it be possible to just use the boxes. I do know that PCT and JMT hikers have an exemption from cannisters (I could be wrong). I am just looking for a alternative to using a cannister. Mind you I just did 4 days in SEKI two weeks ago and total pack weight "with" a cannister was 20lbs.

John Carter

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: bear boxes on 08/03/2005 16:46:29 MDT Print View

I just returned from the Vogelsang loop (starting at Lyell Canyon -- the John Muir Trail south of hwy 120 in Yosemite). The woman at the wilderness permit station, where I got both the permit and a bear canister, told me that if I could make it to Vogelsang and use the bear boxes at the high Sierra camp, I wouldn't need to bring the bear canister. I would imagine this applies to any camp site with established bear boxes. Best to call the ranger station to be sure, though.

btw - excellent conditions up there right now. Grass is green, wildflowers are abundant, mosquitos are beginning to thin, passes are free of snow, 40 deg nights, upper 70 deg days. Avoid the low valley, which gets to 90 deg.

Edited by jcarter1 on 08/03/2005 16:48:04 MDT.

Jim Busick
(earthroamer) - F
Re: bear boxes on 08/04/2005 10:48:28 MDT Print View

The regs say that if you have a PCT/JMT permit and you camp a sites that have food storage lockers (and you use them), then you don't need a canister, otherwise everyone on Rae Lakes Loop needs a SEKI approved canister.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
bear boxes on 08/04/2005 14:26:54 MDT Print View

thanks for the input guys.

R Alsborg
(FastWalker) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Product Warning: BearVault or Bearikade on 08/24/2005 17:11:33 MDT Print View

Product Warning

If you use a BearVault or Bearikade, or know somebody that does please pass this on. For the last two weeks approximately 7 BearVaults and 2 Bearikades have been broken into by a bear in a specific area of the Sierra. At this time these incidents are isolated to this specific area and possibly one or more bears. The Sierra Interagency Black Bear Group has pointed out that at this time this does not affect the approval status of any BearVault models. The local rangers will attempt to tag the suspected bear(s) and observe its behavior during interactions with bear canisters put in the area to observe what is happening. BearVault is obtaining several of the canisters from the incidents in this area in an effort to determine the cause of the failures.

We will keep you posted as we learn more.


Craig Delger
ProLite GEAR

Ron Stoecklein
(rs7trout) - F
Re: Product Warning: BearVault or Bearikade on 08/24/2005 17:48:54 MDT Print View

I guess first of all is this warning for real?

after that--

Getting ready for a trip---Any idea where this specific area is?

With a bear vault the only way I can imagine that a bear got in is that it learned how to turn the lid and then press in and turn at the stop point--
and a bearicade seems like it would even be harder to get into!

Being that they are tested with a Griz thats a lot bigger than the black bears of the sierras--hard to imagine that they bit through.

just curious if you might know exactly how the bear got in? If in fact the post is for real.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Bervault Warning on 08/24/2005 18:23:26 MDT Print View

I actually recieved a email warning from Pro Lite Gear today stating the problems that have occured. So yeah, the warning seems to be real unfortunately.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Bearvalt on 08/24/2005 18:25:37 MDT Print View

Seems to me that if you don't screw on the lid properly, the lid overlaps the little lip on the cannister and it won't screw on properly. If someone was not too well versed with the cannister or in a hurry they might end up doing this. I did one night in SEKI and fortunately nothing happened at Charlotte lake.

Edited by kennyhel77 on 08/24/2005 18:26:42 MDT.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Bear Break In on 09/21/2005 16:49:06 MDT Print View

The specific area is the region around Vidette Meadows (on Bubb's Creek). The bear sits/stands on them sideways and the lids pop off!

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Bear Break In on 09/21/2005 17:36:21 MDT Print View


thanks for the update. in a sense, you gotta' love that clever critter. wonder how many other bears have learned by watching? too bad it may be a problem bear now that will need to be relocated. correct me if i'm wrong here, but isn't that the first step taken with a bear like this? was the lid on properly? how heavy a bear was it?

Edited by pj on 09/21/2005 17:38:55 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Smart Bear on 09/21/2005 18:10:05 MDT Print View

Relocation, then if he/she comes back possibley euthanized. I heard that the lip was not being threaded properly and thus the cannister was free to open. I too have done that and now make sure that I have tightened it properly. That is one smart bear. Funny, I have been in that area now twice (Vidette Meadow, and Charlotte Lake) and I have never seen a bear. Have heard though that they can be quite agressive there.

Edited by kennyhel77 on 09/21/2005 18:10:38 MDT.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
relocation rarely works (Re: Smart Bear) on 09/21/2005 18:18:27 MDT Print View

Usually they have to kill bears once they get a taste for human's food.

Relocated bears have covered several hundred miles to return to their original ranges. In the best case, this might just move the bear problem along with the problem bear. Not really an improvement.

At least in the lower 48, there aren't a lot of places where you can put a bear where it won't end up interacting with people at least sometimes.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
a reply to two replies on 09/22/2005 02:15:51 MDT Print View

Ken and David,

many thanks for the swift replies & the excellent info. thanks again for educating me. take care.

P. Todd Foster
( - F
Can failures on 09/28/2005 09:30:07 MDT Print View

I use Bearikade after experiencing Ursack failure when that was legal in Sierra NP.

Info on recent Bearikade and Bear Keg problem is that failure was due to "user error." Not specific, must be lid not latched. The "Bear Tech" stationed in King's Cyn checks out these problems first hand. I assume he's the ultimate source here.

On the Bearvault failures, bear has learned to sit on container lying on it's side, popping off the lid.

Check these out:

Best, Todd in CC.

P. Todd Foster
( - F
Re: Bear Boxes in The Sierra's on 09/28/2005 09:37:56 MDT Print View


Yes there are several excellent loops in Sierra that can be done bear box to bear box. The loop from Crescent Meadow on the High Sierra Trail down Big Arroyo, returning via Black Rock Pass to Bear Paw Meadow is a great example.
(Cell phones work from BR Pass for mid-hike check in if that's important to you.)

Rule used to be that if you list your campsites on permit and they are a day's hike apart with bearbox, you're OK. You show this to ranger checking for bear cans on trail. Always confirm current year's rules, of course.

Best, Todd in CC.

AK Hiker
(akhiker) - F
Is it worth the extra pound? on 09/28/2005 17:25:21 MDT Print View

Bear relocation (of bears that are into garbage/get ahold of human food) is very hard, even in a state like Alaska. Bears that have been in refuge areas and relocated have travelled hundreds of miles to return to the source of food. Bears are extremly smart and have an excellent memory.

Depending on the case, the bear is relocated (in AK) and tagged. The bear gets at least one chance before it is euthanized.

My experience has been prevention. Until I know some of the lighter bear cans work, I will not use them. For me, a heavier bear canister that works, is worth every extra pound(s). I do ultralight, but it isn't worth the weight to go real light with something that doesn't work and could
force biologists to relocate a bear. We definitely leave a trace and change the habitat for bears when we get them relocated.

Edited by akhiker on 09/28/2005 17:26:18 MDT.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Bear Boxes on 09/28/2005 17:41:04 MDT Print View

Todd, thanks for the heads up. That sounds like a great idea, and I will give that a shot during my next SEKI trip.