Food strategy for car-to-car w/ naps in black bear country?


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Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 8, 2018 - 07:00pm PT
Hi gang, I want to go pretty light for a 3rd class summit out of Cedar Grove, something like Mt Francis Farquhar.

I envision having a a small pack like a BD bullet and minimal emergency weather gear, and really don't want to carry a bear canister. I'm not studly enough to just bang it out with non-stop motion, so I anticipate having a few "naps" along the way of a car-to-car mission.

Do you:
A) Sleep with food in yer pockets and hope for the best?
B) Bring a ripstop nylon sack and paracord and sling a tree?
C) Bring a bigger backpack and food in a bear canister and stash it half or two thirds into the approach for a pick-me-up on the way back?

Ideas or experiences of others appreciated.

A long way from where I started
Oct 8, 2018 - 07:05pm PT
Man, you humans just don't get it...

Before you go, talk to one of us. Let us know what you're planning. And, you know, pre-place a few caches of cookies and sausages and such along the way. Of course we know that you won't need anything stashed along your route, but if you put a few goodies along the way for us, we'll be there to help you in any way we can.

Ice climber
hartford, ct
Oct 8, 2018 - 07:09pm PT
A bag far up in a tree away from the trunk and not near any big branches. We hang bells from the cord as an alarm as some bbs around here have figured out the cord thing.

No food in the tent.

Bozeman, Montana
Oct 8, 2018 - 07:10pm PT
kevlar bear bag will add 8 ounces
Scott Thelen

Trad climber
Truckee, Ca
Oct 8, 2018 - 07:12pm PT
City people are funny

Trad climber
Santa Cruz, California
Oct 8, 2018 - 07:21pm PT

Rub a stuff sack in bear sh#t. This can be found in any woods in bear country, then place your food in the sack and sally forth.

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Oct 8, 2018 - 07:35pm PT

And wind up 50 feet of 15 pound test fishing line inside of the ripstop bag. There's your answer. Total weight, less than two Advil.

Mountain climber
32N 117W
Oct 8, 2018 - 07:39pm PT
Most ultralight PCT hikers only carry bear cans if they're forced to. The rest of the time they keep it close by, in the tent with them. This is the "Defend Your Food" strategy (doesn't work on Grizzlies, only Black Bears). Don't leave your pack unattended either - bears know that packs contain treasure and will drag them away and loot them at a safe distance.

But you probably won't even see a bear once you get to higher elevation - the bears are all raiding campsites down in Cedar Grove!

Oct 8, 2018 - 07:44pm PT
Fresh cigarette buts mask everything.

Bears hate em.

I never had a bear attack any vehicle I had with food in it.

Had bears attack vehicle on each side of mine and mine remain untouched.

I'm NOT guaranteeing anything but only speaking from experience.

Where you are going might have smokin bear though .....

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 8, 2018 - 08:34pm PT
Thanks micro for the fishing line idea.

I'll look into those ursack things too.

Good idea with cigarette butts for smokers, but that cure is worse than the disease for me! I'd rather just plan to run out of food by the time I need to take a nap, which is not a bad idea.

Bear sh!t on the bag... that is a pretty good idea! Good enough that I can see investing some time to experiment in the future. What does a bear do when he smells good and bad? It seems animals in general are less repelled by their feces than we humans tend to be.


away from the ground
Oct 8, 2018 - 08:40pm PT

Oct 8, 2018 - 07:12pm PT
City people are funny

You can say that again.
Bring a dog. Best bear deterrent hands down.
John M

Oct 8, 2018 - 08:49pm PT
once you get away from the heavy use areas the bears aren't as habituated. I lived in Yosemite for 25 years and hiked or ran many of the trails and scrambled all over the place. I also like to take naps and never had a problem with a bear. Except in places like the grand canyon of the Tuolumne, or little Yosemite valley.

I have had a number of bear experiences though. Walking home one night in Wawona without a flashlight on a night without a moon I actually ran into a bear. I was creeping along the road trying to feel my way and ran into something that was furry and waist high to me. It jumped. I jumped. And then it ran out from under the trees that we were under and into a meadow where I could see that it was a bear.

On one of my first backpack trips we went down into the grand canyon of the Tuolumne. I had a bear stand over the top of me while I was sleeping and go through my pack. It was unzipped and our food was hung in a tree, but it walked over me and nosed through my pack which was leaning against a log at my head. Rookie mistake. hahaha..

I have been bluff charged multiple times and have chased bears out of the Wawona Hotel with a mop.

the main time that they are dangerous is when they are cornered or have cubs.

I would be more concerned about where I parked my car and what I left in it.

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 8, 2018 - 08:50pm PT
edit: nice stories John!

I've had a bear call my bluff when I charged it in the middle of the night, 13 miles from the nearest road (near Valhalla area on High Sierra Trail), but it held its ground and stared at me while eating my stuff (it was hung too close to a branch that he crawled up and out to slice the bag). Next morning I chased it out of some bushes and was able reclaim a bag of someone else's fishing gear and trash from others, but my stuff was consumed. I've woken up two nights in a row with bears straddling my head and sniffing my face (no food with me) in Tuolumne Meadows campground.

I'd prefer to avoid reenactments when I'm by myself and there's nobody to hear me scream ;)

The common thread is highly trafficked spots where bears associate human activity and food. Being off the beaten path should help.
John M

Oct 8, 2018 - 08:56pm PT
Once they get your food thats kind of it.

years ago my family was camping in Crane Flat campground and we woke to a woman screaming. She was sleeping outside and had cold cream on her face and a bear was licking her face. It just kept licking while she screamed. hahaha.. what a scene.

Social climber
The internet
Oct 8, 2018 - 08:57pm PT
This napping idea sounds bad. Without a bunch of extra weight, you’ll get cold and your energy will drain. Go in rested, get up early, keep moving until you arrive back at the car.

Social climber
Desolation Basin, Calif.
Oct 8, 2018 - 09:46pm PT
Most ultralight PCT hikers only carry bear cans if they're forced to.

Most UL PCT hikers would die if they got more than 10 feet off the trail.
Ricky D

Trad climber
Sierra Westside
Oct 8, 2018 - 09:56pm PT
Werner has it - rub all of your essentials with stinky azz bar butts - cigs from strip bars are especially nasty so use those if you are daring.

If too much for your delicate soul - then at least chow down some Trader Joe's B100 Complex tabs and then pee on all of your gear. The acrid smell of rancid B's with the manly stench of your Alpha Male urine will deter bears, moose, marmots and flannel clad people driving Subarus.

Your food might vaguely taste like wee -but conjure up thoughts of cilantro and you'll be fine you wuss.


Mountain climber
Oct 8, 2018 - 11:18pm PT
Put your food in a LOKSAK OPSAK Odor-Proof Barrier Bag. REI has them:

I use these bags with an Ursack.

Trad climber
Oct 8, 2018 - 11:51pm PT
Ricky D's idea was the first to come to mind. Never hear of the cigarette butt thing but seems reasonable. I don't mind my own pee so much, its sterile. Someones cig butts maybe not so much. Wash your stuff when you get home.

David Knopp

Trad climber
Oct 9, 2018 - 07:23am PT
Second the opsak/ursak combo. Just used that very thing by falls ridge, and no one seemed to come near it, not even critters.
I like naps too when going car to car but sometimes if you're super hashed it can be hard to wake up without coffee or tea or whatever, if it's cold and dark-then you end up with a tiny stove and and and next thing you know your pack is huge. have fun!
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