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#17690 - 08/21/11 09:17 AM Bears at Whitney Portal
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7075
Loc: Fresno, CA
This was posted on wpsmb.  Be very wary when preparing to hike in the dark early-morning hours.  Putting your pack down and leaving it just 5 feet away is an invitation for a bear to do a Snatch and Run!

Originally Posted By: jobrux
Bear Info- FYI (8/15/2011)

My brother,sister and I had permit to go up Aug 15, 2011. We were planning for a day hike and wanted maximum time. At midnight, we were in parking lot, near the start of Whitney trail. My sister and I had our day packs leaning against the back of my car as we made final prep. We went to side of car to pull blanket over boxes (no food in car at all) and close side door, when she screamed, "Bear's got my pack." I hadn't seen the bear, but her pack was definitely missing. I shouted "Which direction". She pointed up the hill. So, I took off into the woods north of parking area.

With my headlamp on I located the bear and began heaving rocks in hopes of convincing the bear that it wasn't worth it. The bear picked up pack and ran off about 30 yards east. I chased it and continued heaving rocks. The bear and I went through this start stop process about 3-4 times, until I was exhausted. We arrived at a situation where the bear was uphill from me. I decided to wait and figured the bear would run out of food and lose interest. The pack had other items such as car keys, driver's licenses and 'administrative' items of no interest to the bear, but of great interest to us.

Meanwhile my brother came up and I told him to go back and get my pack inside the bearproof enclosures because I had run off and left it out. So, he left and returned several minutes later. After a few more minutes the bear moved away from the pack about 10 feet. I moved in and the bear ambled away. I retrieved the pack.

It was remarkably intact. My sister had put most of the food in the large back pocket and the bear had simply unzipped the pocket and removed the food. The main compartment had 1 or 2 smallish punctures and copious bear slobber.

Inside the main pack was a can of V8 juice, which looked like it had been twisted and ripped in half, spilling V8 all over the interior. How the bear accomplished that without destroying the pack, we have no idea.

We had extra food stored in bear proof locker, so we restocked my sister's pack and while we were restocking I glanced over near the front of our car and lo and behold, a second bear was standing there silently peering at me from about 12 feet away.

I shouted "Bear" and ran to get my camera, by the time I got back, the bear had vanished.

This whole incident took about an hour. We started the hike without further incident at 1AM.

Moral (my interpretation): Bears are very intelligent creatures. They have adapted to (1) the bear proof enclosures, (2) the bear proof trash containers, (3) the general lack of food in cars. Their adaptation is to utilize a snatch and run strategy. Even though these creatures weigh upwards 400+ pounds, they can move around with extreme stealth. They sneak around and approach people like us when we are preparing to leave. At these times, food may be out and potentially vulnerable, even if only for a few seconds. They seize any momentary lapse when the food is unguarded to grab and run.

In my opinion, they do not wish to attack humans (exception, mama bear and cubs) for food. So, I advise you to never leave food or packs full of food unguarded even for 5 seconds as you get ready to leave for your Whitney day hike.

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#17699 - 08/21/11 07:25 PM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve C]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 240
Loc: SoCal
Wow. During both of my visits at the Visitors Center to pick up my permits this year, I've chatted with the rangers on duty. Both times they've brought up the heavy bear activity at the Portal this year. As of mid-July, they had already had the average number of bear incidents for an entire year, with half of a busy hiking season to go. They seemed genuinely concerned, but also noted that it seemed to be the same four or five bears every time.

When we were staying at the Portal, there were a pair of bears that were running around before dark checking the trashcans. People thought it was great, and were following them around taking their pictures. Not a good situation for the people, or the bears, if you ask me.
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#19165 - 10/12/11 08:24 PM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: GandC]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
Anybody know what the bear sitch is at whitney?

What is the traditional date where bear cannisters are not needed on the trail?

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#19167 - 10/12/11 09:01 PM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: tdtz]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7075
Loc: Fresno, CA
Well.... being that the canisters are required not for bears, but for marmots, I'd say they would always be required. The marmots may hibernate, but I have seen one poking his head out of the snow at a ski area while I was riding the lift.

So I would bet that, if food were available at Trail Camp, they would find it, no matter what month.

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#19173 - 10/13/11 04:52 AM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve C]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
ah well then, I guess I have a nice stool then anyway.

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#19178 - 10/13/11 07:30 AM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve C]
stephen_h Offline


Registered: 10/02/11
Posts: 7
Loc: CA
Last week a bear grabbed my brothers day pack from the Lone Pine campground around 2 am. I woke up and scared the bear off by simply saying "hey" twice, but not before the bear had inflicted significant damage to the pack and its contents. The worst damage was my brother's glasses, which got a tooth mark in them. Apparently, there was some residue from an energy gel that had leaked in the pack and on the glasses case.

Bears are active in the area. I think the moral of the story is to think of things that have come into contact with food and that that valuables should not be left in something a bear may be tempted to grab.

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#19179 - 10/13/11 08:00 AM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: stephen_h]
tdtz Offline


Registered: 08/26/10
Posts: 511
Loc: CA
squirrels and marmots and bears, oh my!

thanks, obviously the bears are still working on their layers of fat.

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#19180 - 10/13/11 11:52 AM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve C]
SaraC_UK Offline


Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 127
Loc: Sussex UK
I think im going to have to keep coming back till I actually see a bear !!

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#19181 - 10/13/11 12:01 PM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: SaraC_UK]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7075
Loc: Fresno, CA
Sarah, if you come all the way back from UK, I will personally shuttle you to a spot in Sequoia National Park where I have seen bears repeatedly. And these are good bears -- they graze on grass in a meadow, rather than sneak up and steal backpacks.

These are in the meadow at the entrance to the Dorst campground. They are sighted there so often that the rangers call the collection of cars and people that forms on the road a "bearjam".




This cub climbed the tree and fell asleep while momma was grazing and people were watching.


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#19184 - 10/13/11 12:38 PM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve C]
SaraC_UK Offline


Registered: 08/07/11
Posts: 127
Loc: Sussex UK
Thanks Steve

Hey I posted a little picture, its off topic, and I thought I might post an Off Topic report, if thats ok, I mentioned it at the bottom of the what happened here thread

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#19333 - 10/19/11 12:26 PM Re: Bears at Whitney Portal [Re: Steve C]
ruffpace Offline


Registered: 07/19/10
Posts: 16
Loc: San Luis Obispo, CA
Almost every time I stay at Whitney Portal I see people in the campsite chasing bears away. As long as I am not covered in honey and use the posted bear rules, the bears do not seem like a big problem to me. A good friend of mine often would hike to remote parts of the Sierras. He went to get a drink from a nearby stream. As he was hunched over getting a drink a baby bear came up to him to get a drink on his right side. Right then mama bear also came up to get a drink on his left side. I asked him what did you do? He said all he could do is just smile. I guees it was a nice smile because the mama and baby bear just took off into the woods.

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