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#24598 - 06/02/12 07:01 AM Bears
pratic patel Offline


Registered: 05/30/12
Posts: 12
Loc: Tracy, CA, United States
Hello everyone, about 5 years ago, while at house keeping tents at Yosemite, we had a small bear come in and grab a backpack (which had a small sandwich). It was bit scary in the middle of the night. Obviously, I know it was our mistake.

I have seen a video of someone having an encounter with a large bear at Whitney portal camp grounds at night.

It seems keeping food in bear containers is best way to keep the bears at bay. Are there any other ways to keep them away? May be keeping the lantern on or keeping a fire on, etc? What are best ways to keep them away without stressing them out.

Also, how common are bear encounters at Whitney Portal?

Thanks!

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#24599 - 06/02/12 07:15 AM Re: Bears [Re: pratic patel]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
I've been to WP many times and have seen one bear, paws up on a Ford Explorer on WP Rd...the owner had left some food in it.

I regularly lay my sleeping bag out in the hiker-in without a tent, fire, lantern or sign stating I'm the equivalent of a bear happy meal.

Just make sure there are no food items in your tent or vehicle. Put all that stuff in the bear lockers provided by the forest service.

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#24603 - 06/02/12 01:52 PM Re: Bears [Re: pratic patel]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7195
Loc: Fresno, CA
Pratic, they will be roaming all around the campground in the dark when everyone is asleep. You cannot keep them away. They stealthily check for smells of food -- bears' noses are about a thousand times more sensitive than humans.

If you are camping overnight at the portal, use the bear lockers, and make SURE they are properly latched. They only want your food, they never bother humans, (...unless they are being challenged once they have possession of some food. I know, I did that once.)

If you are getting up early to day hike, do not put food in your day pack and leave it for a minute on the picnic table. When it is dark, the Whitney Portal bears will sneak up, grab the pack and run.

The bear problem is probably worse at Whitney Portal than in Yosemite due to the pre-dawn day hikers with food in their day packs.

Here's the thread with the bear video from last year. Bears at Whitney Portal It is pretty crazy that the woman recorded the bear for 3:15 before she figured out how to scare it away.

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#24605 - 06/02/12 02:31 PM Re: Bears [Re: pratic patel]
GandC Offline


Registered: 03/21/11
Posts: 246
Loc: SoCal
Generally, it's not random bears wandering in and out of the Portal. It's the same bears, and the rangers tend to know them, according to the folks at the station in Lone Pine. So these bears get a lot of practice at what to do and what not to do, and where to find food. Even leaving things like empty water bottles in your car is considered a no no, because the bears have learned that those bottles usually mean food is nearby, and will try to get in your car. They weren't ticketing for that last year, but we saw three or four cars with yellow info flyers about it last year in the parking lot.
_________________________
One day I'd like to hike the entire John Muir Trail and not leave a single footprint. -Randy Morgenson

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#24616 - 06/02/12 10:26 PM Re: Bears [Re: GandC]
Whitney Fan Offline


Registered: 12/02/09
Posts: 213
Loc: Las Vegas
I wonder if some sort of concensus could be arrived at indicating the "average" number of times bears might be seen at the portal per a given number of visits? Or, to express it another way, what are the odds of a bear sighting in any one visit (where, of course, the length and times of the visit would have to be known).

I wonder about this because I don't know from reading many posts over the last few years both here and on the portal board if any conclusions can be drawn. Some posters project that they've had multiple bear sightings whereas others might say, for example, that they've only seen one bear over multiple visits.

Myself? On my one day hike of Whitney (2004), I did some acclimitization at Mammoth Lakes prior to arriving at Lone Pine and Whitney Portal. On the morning I left Mammoth Lakes, a shadowy figure was seen in the darkness leaving the area around a dumpster in the motel parking lot -- presumably a bear, althouth I couldn't be 100 sure.

But -- just a minute or two later, driving down the main drag, a huge black bear crossed the road directly in front of me (giving new meaning to the term "lumbering").

There's more! On the day of my Whitney day hike (two days later), I left my vehicle in the parking lot at the portal to walk to the trailhead and began my hike at 4:00 AM. Within the first mile of the trai I ran into some fellow hikers and we started talking. They told me they had seen me in the parking lot and asked, "Didn't you see that bear walk right by you?"

(I hadn't!)

More interesting to me are mountain lions. They say that if you ever are so lucky to actually see one in the wild that, by that time, at least 50 mountain lions have seen you!

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#24663 - 06/04/12 03:01 PM Re: Bears [Re: Whitney Fan]
CaliHawk Offline


Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 16
Loc: SoCal
I had a bear next to my tent in the packers camp area on evening. It woke me up when it began messing with the plastic bag of water that I had left out. The bear was harmless but it did make me take seriously the bear intelligence. It clearly understood that many bags have food. The next time there, I left my water in the car.

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#24691 - 06/05/12 05:34 AM Re: Bears [Re: CaliHawk]
pratic patel Offline


Registered: 05/30/12
Posts: 12
Loc: Tracy, CA, United States
Interesting stuff here. I guess the most imp thing is the food stuff to be stored in food storage lockers. I see many people start from Whitney Portal early morning in the dark. In one of the posts, I read the back pack was taken by a bear. I guess his/her hike was cancelled by a bear! I got bear bell, lol, I hope I will be lucky enough. Seems like there is no bear proof way.

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#24694 - 06/05/12 07:18 AM Re: Bears [Re: pratic patel]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Ah yes, bear bells. A kind of "come and get it" for bears.

See, if you can take it back to REI, they are useless.

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#24695 - 06/05/12 07:42 AM Re: Bears [Re: wbtravis]
Glenn Offline


Registered: 09/16/11
Posts: 103
Loc: Oklahoma
AKA, "Dinner bell".

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#24699 - 06/05/12 08:10 AM Re: Bears [Re: wbtravis]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
wbtravis - What's your take on bear pepper spray? I ask because I will thru-hiking the southbound JMT for the first time later this summer.

CaT
_________________________
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.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#24700 - 06/05/12 08:21 AM Re: Bears [Re: CaT]
mrshherrera Offline


Registered: 06/20/11
Posts: 82
Loc: Hills of Granada, CA
CaT - here is some info on using pepperspray on bears from the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota

http://www.bear.org/website/bear-pages/pepper-spray.html

Dr. Lynn Rogers has been studying our black bears for 40 years.
_________________________
The Mountains are calling and I must go - John Muir

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#24701 - 06/05/12 08:34 AM Re: Bears [Re: Glenn]
pratic patel Offline


Registered: 05/30/12
Posts: 12
Loc: Tracy, CA, United States
LOL. That is funny! Thanks, I will return it today

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#24702 - 06/05/12 09:07 AM Re: Bears [Re: CaT]
CMC2 Offline


Registered: 11/04/09
Posts: 160
Loc: CO
I have always wondered why people at the Portal don't use bear spray on the bears there. My experience in Colorado Springs with numerous bears around the houses in our area is that bear spray works very well. We had a bear up our apple tree some 15 feet from where I was when I sprayed it. It quickly dropped down out of the tree and ran away. Never saw another bear up the apple tree after that. Only problem was the spray drifted back and nailed me too.

Another time a couple of years later a bear was in our driveway and up an oak tree eating acorns and breaking branches off the tree. One close range spray, maybe 10 feet away, got the bear out of the tree and it ran off into the woods. Like the bear, I learned and avoided the spray drifting back to me this time.

Finally a neighbor used spray on a bear sampling his hummingbird feeder (actually it is best to take them down at night) and the bear ran off and apparently did not bother the feeder again although it or another bear did enjoy sitting in their pond which is well away from the feeder location.

It may just be that people at the Portal just enjoy having the bears around and everyone co exists!

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#24705 - 06/05/12 10:42 AM Re: Bears [Re: CMC2]
SierraNevada Offline


Registered: 09/05/11
Posts: 1097
Loc: NorCal
In Alaska they can positively ID Grizzly scat on the trail because it has those little bells buried in it.

These pepper canisters designed for Grizzlies are very large and heavy like a small fire extinguisher. I bought one and carried it day hiking in Yellowstone/Tetons with small kids. We saw a few Grizzlies at safe distance, exciting and no problems. For black bears I carry a tiny canister of pepper for self defense that would probably work on a bear at close range. The numbers show a much great risk from a human nut job than a bear. I've encountered lots of bears in the Sierra and never felt a need to spray them. The Rangers at Yosemite have been hazing the bears there with fireworks and other means for years. Together with more bear boxes, the incidents have dropped dramatically.

The only time I felt really worried about a black bear was when we hiked by a little cub next to the trail at Hetch Hetchy and we didn't see Mama bear around. My little kids wanted to pet it but I got them out of there pronto. Except for protecting baby cubs, all they want is your food. Do not let them get it or your trash. Period. If they have outsmarted you out of your food, just remember, it is now THEIR food and you are the thief. That's how people get hurt.

The foolproof solution: hike with a fool you can outrun. :o

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#24706 - 06/05/12 11:21 AM Re: Bears [Re: pratic patel]
pretendingtowork Offline


Registered: 05/23/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Duarte, Ca
I am heading up on Friday and was wondering the same thing.

While at the Portal, everything with a scent, will be in a locker. Are they big enough to fit my entire pack? I ask this because it may have some campfire aroma on it from previous trips.

Then on the trail, we are going to stay at Outpost Camp and use that as our base camp. I will have my canister with me. This also will have anything with a scent in it, even my deodorant and soap. What is the preferred placement of this? I always placed it 100 yards away from camp. Now I have read that I want to do this not only down wind, but up hill and diagonally away from camp? Also preferably in the shade not near a cliff. I have generally just left it out in the open near an easily recognizable landmark from afar. What do you guys do?

Any other tips on this?




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#24707 - 06/05/12 11:29 AM Re: Bears [Re: pretendingtowork]
Go Bears Offline


Registered: 01/14/10
Posts: 39
Loc: Placer County, Ca
When I park my car at the Portal, I always wet some rags with Lysol and place them on my tires. I also use this method at my house at Tahoe. Pour a circle of Lysol around the house. Bears hate the scent, hurts their sensitve smelling.

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#24709 - 06/05/12 11:48 AM Re: Bears [Re: pretendingtowork]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7195
Loc: Fresno, CA
Originally Posted By: pretendingtowork
While at the Portal, everything with a scent, will be in a locker. Are they big enough to fit my entire pack? I ask this because it may have some campfire aroma on it from previous trips.

Then on the trail, we are going to stay at Outpost Camp and use that as our base camp. I will have my canister with me. This also will have anything with a scent in it, even my deodorant and soap. What is the preferred placement of this? I always placed it 100 yards away from camp. Now I have read that I want to do this not only down wind, but up hill and diagonally away from camp? Also preferably in the shade not near a cliff. I have generally just left it out in the open near an easily recognizable landmark from afar. What do you guys do?

Any other tips on this?

Leave the pack open and unzipped. The bear will inspect it, find it empty, and leave. But it might fit in the locker -- they are big, but lots of people put lots of stuff in them. I've even seen hiking boots in one. crazy

You do not need to go to great trouble placing your canister far away. I go about 10 feet. First, I don't think any bears have been seen at Outpost, but also, the bear might try to roll the canister, but if they have tried one before, they will most likely leave it alone (bears are smart). As I wrote above, bears (in California) will not bother people -- it is only the food they want.

I am curious: I wonder if ANY hiker on the JMT or in the Sierra anywhere has actually been successful using pepper spray on a bear. I think that is pretty unlikely.

And last, SierraNevada wrote:
> In Alaska they can positively ID Grizzly scat on the trail because it has those little (bear) bells buried in it.
Yes, and it smells like pepper spray, too. grin

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#24715 - 06/05/12 01:03 PM Re: Bears [Re: Steve C]
CaT Offline


Registered: 09/24/09
Posts: 694
Loc: Blacklick, OH (formerly SoCal)
Quote:
And last, SierraNevada wrote:

> In Alaska they can positively ID Grizzly scat on the trail because it has those little (bear) bells buried in it. <

Yes, and it smells like pepper spray, too.

As Laura expressed so eloquently in a unrelated topic:

Quote:


OMG, I'm crying...

Last time I camped at Outpost Camp, I put my bear canister up against a large tree just on the other side of the trail that passes through there and buried it with medium size rocks. Not sure if that's necessary, but that's what we did. Another bear-repellant trick that others have used for car protection at the Portal is to put a series of spaced-out mothballs (this is not mothballs on drugs) along the perimeter of the top edge of your vehicle. It seems that mothballs also have an unpleasant smell to bears (and us).

CaT
_________________________
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.
- Lyndon Johnson, on signing the Wilderness Act into law (1964)

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#24739 - 06/05/12 06:47 PM Re: Bears [Re: CaT]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1239
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
CaT,

I ain't ever used the stuff. I've only run into 4 bears in the wilderness in 16 years...and 3 of those in Ice House Canyon.

Hmmm...does Ice House Canyon count as wilderness?


Edited by wbtravis (06/05/12 06:48 PM)

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#24741 - 06/05/12 07:05 PM Re: Bears [Re: wbtravis]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1254
Loc: Atlanta
I've got a full canister of Counter Assault I've had for about seven years. I finally quit carrying it about 4 years ago since ninety percent of my hiking is done in either Georgia or California, and the bears in neither state concern me any longer. I know it's still good though - I tested it once last year on the neighbors' mutt that they allow to run wild at times. He hasn't wandered into my garage to bark at me since . . .


And for what it's worth, this was in July of last year at the Portal - about 50 feet from the picnic benches outside the store entrance:



I've also had a (very) close encounter in a condo garage in Mammoth Lakes, just outside the dumpster chute.


Edited by Bulldog34 (06/05/12 07:27 PM)
Edit Reason: Added photo

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