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  1. #1
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    How do you handle your food in bear country

    I'm going to be riding the Pine Creek Rail Trail soon and being a noob, was wondering if anybody has ridden the trail, if they have food hangs, if not what is the best way to take care not to feed the bears.

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    Google "Bear bag hanging" and you'll get all kinds of ideas. I have bears around my house and they will get most items hung up if there is food in it. I've hung bird feeds way up in a tree and off on a small branch. They just climb up the tree, broke the branch off and had dinner back on the ground. I still have the claw marks on our tree as a reminder.

    The best method is a rope hung between 2 trees, up 10-12 ft, with the food bag in the middle about 10-12ft from each tree. I never do this, I just hang from a branch high up (12 ft) that I can throw the rope bag (with a rock inside for weight) over. Takes me a few throws :-) The biggest issue I've had are racoons, squirrels, and chipmunks. These buggers show up with you just sitting there and make off with your food.
    1965 Moulton Speed 4, 1974 Fuji 12 speed, 1987 DB Ascent EX, 2006 Dahon Speed TR, 2009 Salsa Fargo, 2011 Gravity 29.4, 2011 Salsa Casseroll, 2012 Surly Moonlander

  3. #3
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    In the Adirondacks I like the PCT Bear Bag hanging method ( Bear Bag Hanging Techniques @ Backpacking Light , among many others ). It takes less rope than traditional methods and is faster. You just need to buy a mini-carabiner to go along with the rope and sacks.
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Bear Boxes are another container . Bear-Resistant Food Containers at REI

    and never eat inside your tent.

  5. #5
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    I spent 6.5 months on the Appalachian trail and I, and every thru hiker slept with their food in their tent. Mine was right by my head for 192 days in the woods.

    Not suggesting you do this, but if you do you'll probably be ok.

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    I find the tree hanging thing to be just too much work after a long day of cycling. Finding the right branch that sticks out far enough at an adequate height just doesn't happen often. I carry an Ursack in my food pannier and tie it with food inside to a tree trunk or picnic table. As VT_Speed_TR points out, it's more to fend off the small critters.

    Ursack : Bear resistant canister for outdoor activities

    Two models, one is more rodent resistant and the other is more bear resistant.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    just bears will smell spilled food stains in your tent , AT they may have been shot at often enough to be human shy

    Alaska and the CDN north that will not apply ..

  8. #8
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    Carefully.

  9. #9
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    In order of preference food lockers (duh!), in a bear-resistant trash can between the plastic trash bag and the steel walls of the can, in a rest room, then lastly hanging up in a tree well away from my tent. I only had a problem when a skunk spent hours during the night trying to get into a chain mail sack I had at the time (I forgot the brand) that I had anchored by parking my bike on top of it. Since this was within a few feet of my tent, I let him/her have his/her way with me until he/she gave up near dawn (no possibility of bears in the area, hence the proximity.)

  10. #10
    Senior Member Northwestrider's Avatar
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    I carried a bear vault from R.E.I. on my trip into northern Canada, then placed it a hundred feet or more away from my tent each night.
    Last edited by Northwestrider; 04-11-14 at 10:36 PM. Reason: accuracy

  11. #11
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    just take enough food for you AND the bear, once they are full, they can be good company.

  12. #12
    Senior Member zandoval's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VT_Speed_TR View Post
    ...The biggest issue I've had are racoons, squirrels, and chipmunks. These buggers show up with you just sitting there and make off with your food.
    "Mini Bears" - They are formidable - And they know how to zip, unzip, distract, and con - No kidding...

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
    I carried a bear vault from R.E.I. on my trip into northern Canada, then placed it a hundred feet or more away from my tent each night.
    Actually, I felt safer with bears in Alaska, the Yukon, and the NWT than in the Northern Rockies. Since bears are hunted in the northern regions and grizzlies are protected in the lower 48, bears are much more cautious around humans up north. Doesn't mean they won't steal a peanut butter and tuna sandwich you leave out all night - but a couple of smudge fires to let them know you are there and a good tree hang seems fine.

    Yosemite bears, on the other hand, are extremely clever. I suspect that some of them have even figured out how to open the bear vaults that are required in the backcountry. Why else would a bear ask you for a quarter??

  14. #14
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    I don't know much about the adirondaks. I assume they are black bears. The only thing I'll add to this is that if you keep your tent spotlessly clean...no toothpaste...no smelly stuff...hair stuff...smelly deoderant...you have a much better chance of not getting your tent ripped open and perhaps more importantly squirrels and mice and voles won't chew their way in. Bears are one thing but more stuff is damaged by birds and rodents than bears. Leave a backpack on the ground in Yosemite and you'll find out what the little critters can do. I hang food in bear country and when done right even black bears can't get it but it does require a decent tree. Pots and pans set delicately on your gear can also alert you to a bear and give you a chance to scare it off. I've charged several bears in my day. If they don't -have- your food they will scare off easily. Usually. If they HAVE it that's another matter entirely. In serious bear country an all night fire goes a long way to keeping bears away and if they come around a flaming stick is quite a deterrent. Best of luck.
    Alaskans for global warming.

  15. #15
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mulveyr View Post
    In the Adirondacks I like the PCT Bear Bag hanging method ( Bear Bag Hanging Techniques @ Backpacking Light , among many others ). It takes less rope than traditional methods and is faster. You just need to buy a mini-carabiner to go along with the rope and sacks.
    +1 This is the technique I use now, works great. I've always hung my food while backpacking and touring, and after 45 years never had a problem. However, when I toured up in the Alaskan tundra I did carry a bear canister knowing there would be no place to hang my food. It's 3 pound penalty but very effective. Where you're touring I'd recommend hanging your food.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
    Actually, I felt safer with bears in Alaska, the Yukon, and the NWT than in the Northern Rockies. Since bears are hunted in the northern regions and grizzlies are protected in the lower 48, bears are much more cautious around humans up north. Doesn't mean they won't steal a peanut butter and tuna sandwich you leave out all night - but a couple of smudge fires to let them know you are there and a good tree hang seems fine.
    My experience exactly. Bear sightings dropped dramatically north of B.C. On the Cassiar there was a mama black bear and her cub(s) around nearly corner. Once on the Robert Campbell (Yukon) nada all the way until Denali, then

  17. #17
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    The Pine Creek Trail is through the Pike Creek Gorge (at least the northern end is) in north central PA. While there are some bears in the area, I think the chance of an encounter is minimal. I have hiked the West Rim Trail, on the other side of the creek from the bike trail, twice. The outfitter in Ansonia who provides shuttle service explained to me that the bears that survive up there are the smart ones who know how to avoid humans. Also, there is more forest on the west side of the creek. During six days of hiking the trail I saw not even a hint of bear. I did, however, have to deal with a raccoon playing with my cook set. You are more likely to have to deal with them, and watch out for rattlers. The trail passes through Blackwell. There is an annual rattle snake roundup there. I believe it's now catch and release.

    The snakes tend to hang around the edges of trails to sun themselves. Just keep your eyes open. Last year I rode about two feet from one on the Lehigh Gorge Trail in PA. I wasn't paying attention and never noticed it. My GF saw it and asked "Did you see that snake back there?" Went back for a look. It was a young rattler.
    Last edited by indyfabz; 04-12-14 at 07:12 AM.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Thulsadoom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robertblake60 View Post
    I spent 6.5 months on the Appalachian trail and I, and every thru hiker slept with their food in their tent. Mine was right by my head for 192 days in the woods.

    Not suggesting you do this, but if you do you'll probably be ok.
    I agree, to an extent. I typically don't hang my food and bring it right into the tent in black bear country and have never had a problem. Grizzlies are a whole different matter. They can be much more aggressive, and they aren't afraid of anything when they are hungry.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Nick The Beard's Avatar
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    Black bear country? I'd sleep with it and my dog.

    Grizzly?

    PCT method.
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  20. #20
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    All of the discussion centers of the person's safety - not the bear's.
    Black bears are highly intelligent - they will opt for the easiest food source.
    It makes sense because it involves the least expenditure of energy for calories gained.
    So if a bear finds a jar of peanut butter in a tent - it will learn of the amazing caloric reward.

    Bears that become "nuisance" bears must be destroyed.
    If the bear is a sow with cubs, she will teach the cubs to raid.
    They will, most likely, have to be destroyed, too.

    These are some of the additional risks not discussed by keeping food in your tent.
    This is also why land managers close more and more areas to overnight use.
    Because inexperienced or unwilling hikers refuse to use best practices.

    If for no other reason than self-interest - -
    Failure to store food properly can result is significant fines on public lands.

  21. #21
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    Hmm, how much food does a bear need to get it full....

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tumatan View Post
    Hmm, how much food does a bear need to get it full....
    About someone your size.

  23. #23
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    Bear attacks are rare, but people have been killed at my favorite camping spot in Algonquin Park(an island at the north end of Lake Opeongo). They had food in their tent and the tent was ripped open. These were black bears.

    I hang my food 100 yards from the tent, at least 10 feet from the ground, and 5 feet from the tree branch. You need a high branch, good rope and technique. I also don't do dishes near the campsite, and don't put the dishes or stove near the tent.

  24. #24
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    You'd be surprised what spraying your food container with pepper spray will do for keeping it safe from all kinds of predators.

  25. #25
    Junior Member PMCT's Avatar
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    The Bearikade can is pretty effective at keeping food safe from squirrels, birds, raccoons, skunks, you name it. Haven't tried it out in bear country, but I imagine (hope?) it will work. We put all our smelly stuff in there, sunscreen, toothpaste, deodarant. We also keep our handlebar bags from lingering odors by putting snacks for the day into smell proof bags. Again, not sure if bear effective, but definitely had less critters trying to get into our panniers and bags this go round than last.
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