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#16424 - 07/15/11 10:13 AM Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain
KWlax10 Offline


Registered: 07/03/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Folsom, CA
Hey everyone!

My friend and I are doing a 2 night summit, leaving on Monday. This will be our first Whitney attempt, and while I have, what I believe is, a very realistic idea of how the mountain will be (thanks to this forum and the portal store book), I am frightened of one thing: Bears eating my car while I'm gone. I'll clean it out and make sure absolutely nothing is left in it, but my car has had its fair share of spills and messes in its life so I'm really fearing that any remnants will attract bears.

Here's my questions:
1) Do I need to scrub every inch of my car before leaving it for 3 days?
2) If I left my car in Lone Pine, could we hitch a ride to/from the portal without much difficulty?


Any bit of advice would help ease my mind! Thank you!

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#16425 - 07/15/11 10:45 AM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: KWlax10]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7191
Loc: Fresno, CA
Bears' olfactory sense is thousands of times stronger or more sensitive than humans.   (another bear article: The Nose knows)

I am pretty sure they can tell the difference between old spills and fresh food in your car.  Just clean it out/vacuum it well. That should be sufficient.

...Although ten or more years ago, we had a bear get into our van when there was no food. However, I had left a Subway sandwich in the car and started up the Whitney trail. Went back and retrieved it after a short time. But the bear could smell the evidence, so had to get in and inspect things. It pushed the glass down, stripping the motorized window gears, but didn't break any glass. Powerful claws!


Edited by Steve C (07/15/11 10:55 AM)

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#16426 - 07/15/11 10:55 AM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: KWlax10]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
I'm sure that there are plenty of food sources at the portal that are a lot easier and more productive than turning your car into a sardine can.

Seriously though, I doubt that bears are going to be too interested in the scent left by some Ritz cracker crumbs and a three month old spilled pepsi.

I have a kid, so I guarantee that there were crumbs and spills in my car when I parked at the portal. And my car has never been bothered.

I think that bears probably smell all the little smells, but wait for the visual confirmation of an ice chest in the back seat before breaking windows and pealing back sheet metal.

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#16427 - 07/15/11 11:16 AM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: KWlax10]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 800
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
For one, Whitney folk tend to watch out for each other. Bears present and folks assist to scare it. Since you will likely be parking in a highly trafficked area (humans and bears), your chances of someone assisting you are good. Don't worry. I worry more about some of the dishonest people who case the place and take malicious action against us.

Cleaning? Well don't use Pine Sol, Armorall, Ozium, and don't hang those deodorizers from the mirror.

Too bad their ain't no taxi in Lone Pine. Man, think of the revenue if I had my own cab service!
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#16430 - 07/15/11 12:26 PM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: KWlax10]
KWlax10 Offline


Registered: 07/03/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Folsom, CA
Thanks for easing my mind guys! I want to be able to focus on the trail and the surroundings instead of worrying about my ride home! I feel much better now.

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#16432 - 07/15/11 12:51 PM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: KWlax10]
ejsurfs Offline


Registered: 03/31/11
Posts: 43
Loc: OC, CA
I felt the same way about being fearful of leaving my car where bears can eat it. However that all changed when i started up the trail. i didn't think of my car again till i was looking at it from the trail. it was fine.
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#16433 - 07/15/11 12:55 PM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: ejsurfs]
SoCalGirl Offline


Registered: 12/06/09
Posts: 225
Loc: Spring Valley, CA
Originally Posted By: ejsurfs
I felt the same way about being fearful of leaving my car where bears can eat it. However that all changed when i started up the trail. i didn't think of my car again till i was looking at it from the trail. it was fine.


THe first time we hiked... We got to about the 1st creek crossing and there was a car alarm going off at the Portal. My Mom asked "Is that your car"... I told her that if it was the battery would be dead when we got back 'cause I certainly wasn't hiking back down to turn it off... didn't think of my car again ;-) (And no... it wasn't my alarm)

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#16434 - 07/15/11 12:56 PM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: ejsurfs]
Go Bears Offline


Registered: 01/14/10
Posts: 39
Loc: Placer County, Ca
I take four old rags, pour PineSol on them, and place them on top of my tires. I also pour PineSol around the outside of the Tahoe house when they are in the area. They have never bothered either.

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#16435 - 07/15/11 01:25 PM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: + @ti2d]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 578
Loc: Manchester, NH
Originally Posted By: + @ti2d
...Cleaning? Well don't use Pine Sol


Am wondering why you included Pine Sol here? Mammoth and Tahoe residents are urged to apply Pine Sol around doors and windows - apparently it overwhelms a bear's olefactory senses.

Like the poster above, I wipe it on a few spots (when I remember) of my vehicle.

I haven't read the other board regularly (nor this one, for that matter), but I recall a recent post from Doug which indicated bear activity at the Portal was high.

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#16449 - 07/16/11 02:48 AM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: Go Bears]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
I take along a small container of moth balls and place one along the top outer edge of my car every foot or two. I know one other long-time Sierra hiker who has been doing this for years and swears by it. I also have never had any problems using this method, although I am also careful in what I leave in my car, etc. as mentioned by others above.

CaT
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If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them more than the miracle of technology. We must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.
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#16450 - 07/16/11 03:49 AM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: CaT]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
Got a chance Wednesday to see the one particularly troublesome bear that's been causing havoc at the Portal the past few weeks. Doug told me that he appears about 7:00 every night behind the store, then makes his way to the backpacker's campground. At 7:15 Wednesday he was on "bear patrol" behind the store, then waved me over after spotting him. He cruised down near the trailhead, then crossed the road and into the campground, exactly on cue.

Doug and Jack Northam chased him off, but this has been happening regular as clockwork. Here's the naughty culprit. As Steve Searls, the Mammoth Bear Whisperer, would say, "You bad bear!"





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#16469 - 07/16/11 07:42 PM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: Bulldog34]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 246
Loc: SoCal
They're certainly out there right now around the Portals. Ranger at the Interagency Center said that they've had 4 bear breakins this year already, which is extremely high according to him. That should be the year long total, and it's only half way through the summer.

When we were there last week, we were awakened three separate times to a bear trying to get in to the trash can about 30 yards away from our tent. We're pretty sure it was the same bear all three times, but they were each hours apart.

I did not see any bears when I was there Thursday night/Friday morning, but I was only at the Portal for about 20 mins. before hitting the trail.
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One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#16772 - 07/26/11 08:02 AM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: GandC]
Alansdca Offline


Registered: 06/28/11
Posts: 7
Loc: San Diego
I spent three nights at the portal campground two weeks ago. The first night there a bear broke into my truck-camper shell. The camper door was ripped open and the window broken. The back of the truck was very clean. The only thing inside was a small tool bag and jumper cables, and they were covered up with a blanket. The bear did not disturb anything inside the truck. Perhaps it remembered a similar camper shell where it got lucky?? and took a look inside.

This happened at campsite 8 which is a really goofy site. The bear box is on the road right next to were you park. The table and tent sites are some distance away. The next two nights we were in camp #10. I left the back of my truck open each night and in the mornings you could see fresh muddy bear prints where the bear had jumped up into the back of the truck to have a look. There were also prints on my truck cab windows. So take extra care if you are near the campsites by the cabins..

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#16773 - 07/26/11 09:02 AM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: Alansdca]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 552
Loc: Murrieta, CA
Bulldog and I left our extra food in the Bear Box near the pond. When we got back, everything was gone, with the exception of my running shoes. I talked to Amy at the store and she said the bear got into the bear box and ate anything it found. She just found a mess of bags outside the box. My understanding is it got into a car also, possibly another. That bear has gotten into several boxes and cars this year and the Forest Service hinted they may have to destroy it.
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#16777 - 07/26/11 09:40 AM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: quillansculpture]
CMC2 Offline


Registered: 11/04/09
Posts: 160
Loc: CO
I still wonder if an aggressive counter assult spray attack on the bears the lst part of the season when they start coming out would solve the problem? It would have to be kept up to condition the bears that they are not wanted in the area.

Homeowners in our our area where we initially get alot of bears have done this and we do not see any bears after a few sessions with the counter assult spray.

Of course the question then would be: where would the bears go, up the trail to where people camp, or down into Lone Pine. Perhaps neither is better than the present situation. I do not know the answer and maybe people really do enjoy seeing the bears as long as they carefully lock up the food in the proper bear boxes, but I suspect this is not the case and a major part of the problem.

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#16783 - 07/26/11 01:40 PM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: KWlax10]
KWlax10 Offline


Registered: 07/03/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Folsom, CA
I should report that my car was 100% untouched when we got back to my car on the 19th. Before leaving I had scrubbed and vacuumed the entire interior and left only a set of clean clothes and empty and scrubbed clean coffee mug underneath my clothing.

I'm glad I vacuumed it out- I found old candy, french fries and dog biscuits hidden pretty deep between the seats. It's been a while since my car was so clean, and I like it!

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#16791 - 07/26/11 04:58 PM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: quillansculpture]
Jrod8 Offline


Registered: 02/27/11
Posts: 24
Loc: California
Had problems with that(or some other) bear at the Portal on Saturday (23rd) afternoon and basically all night. About 7pm, we see bear in our tent in broad daylight not 20 yards from us. The bear dragged one of our packs out and carried it down and crossed the creek/river. We chased the bear and eventually he gave it up. My brother had to go "scrambling/swimming" down stream just to retrieve it! Needless to say everything was soaked! Went to the laundromat in Lone Pine and tried to dry everything out, came back around 10pm to try and sleep and came face to face with bear again once again around the restrooms in the "overflow" parking. The bear made a growl/hissing type sound, but finally backed away into the dark after being yelled out. We decided to just crash in the car to avoid any possible disaster that could occur before take off before a 430am start on the trail, woke up at 2am to the bear banging bear boxes and paw prints on my windows.

P.S. We were meticulous about keeping food/toiletries/etc in bear boxes.

Needless to say, we were relieved to finally get on the trail...made summit later that day (report and pics to come) and despite some setbacks, we had unbelievable weekend!

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#16795 - 07/26/11 07:05 PM Re: Bears destroying my car while I'm on the mountain [Re: Jrod8]
DonCoqui Offline


Registered: 06/28/11
Posts: 47
Loc: Chula Vista, CA
As I understand it from talking to the folks at the Portal Store, there are at least two bears hanging around the Store and the family camp ground. We had the larger one come for a visit Thursday night. We'd been on site #11 & #12 since Monday afternoon. Anyway, after out successful one-day summit we drove down to the LP Hostel for a shower and warm dinner at Mt Whitney Restaurant across the street. Within minutes of returning to the campground ~10:30pm the larger bear stopped by for a night cap. He walked by nonchalantly less than 20 ft away... made a turn behind our tents and went up the hill as I followed him w/ a flashlight. I had two goals for the week... summitting Whitney and seeing a bear up close in the wild. I got both!

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