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RE: [pct-l] bear manners


I hear you, though I don't know where I fall in all this.  Just one
note... I easily polish off 1.5 lbs. of dehydrated food per day from the
start of a hike.  My longest hike is a bit over a week (so I make no
pretence of "walking the walk"), but from what I've heard I wouldn't be
surprised to see my food consumption go up to 2.5 or more pounds per day
on a long distance hike.  That would require two canisters, or somewhere
between 4.5 and 5.5 pounds (roughly, depending on the brand of canister)
of extra weight.  If my "base" pack weight was 17 lbs., we are talking
about a 26 to 32 percent increase.  Even if we count fully loaded weight
(say about 42 pounds if I was carrying 2.5 pounds of food for 10 days),
we are talking about a 10 to 13 percent increase in total weight.  That
seems like a lot.

Of course, I suspect everyone would be willing to carry the extra weight
if they agreed that it was the only way to make sure they got to eat
their food.  The disagreement seems to be one of scale.  For example,
the following two statements are NOT equivalent:

	The only general solution to the problem of bears getting at
human food is for
	people to use bear canisters.

	The only way for an individual to keep their food safe is to use
a bear canister.

I can see why the NPS and the USFS could recommend the use of bear cans.
The only way for them to manage the environmental impact of mass use of
the backcountry is to concentrate people in hardened camping areas.
This is generally easy, since most people want to camp on a prepared
flat spot near water.  Unfortunately, the repeated use of camping areas
dovetails neatly with animal food search patterns... thus the bear
problem at known camping sites.  Also unfortunately, with people being
as silly as they are (e.g. "oh look at the tame bear, isn't she cute") I
doubt that the bear can "solution" will work.  My guess (as a non
hunting, non gun owning, environmentalist type) is that some form of
limited hunting or non politically correct adverse conditioning of bears
will be needed.  One could try adverse conditioning of people, but the
bears learn faster and can't vote :-)

Anyway, while I have little experience with bears, many animals
(including, I believe, bears) have surprisingly fixed feeding patters.
Raccoons, for example, may travel over a 30 or 40 mile range moving from
"good feeding spot" to "good feeding spot".  In many areas, this is
"garbage can" to "garbage can".  For human acclimated bears, I suspect
it is "campsite" to "campsite."  Thus, the notion that "stealth camping"
could work doesn't surprise me at all.  If one camps well away from both
man made and natural feeding sites, and avoids advertising the presence
of food by cooking at the camp site, then the probability of being
visited by a bear might well be very, very low.  No facts here, just
opinions based on general reasoning.

Cliff Jacobson, while hardly an "ultralight" camper, has written some
very sensible books (including many of the "Basic Essentials of ..."
books).  He says something similar to the above about bears.  I remember
him suggesting that acclimated bears quickly learn all of the good "food
hanging" trees in an area and start visiting them on a regular basis.
For those bears, a brightly colored bag hanging from a tree is kind of
like an "Eat at Joe's" sign.  Jacobson suggests putting your food in one
(maybe two, I can't remember) layers of plastic bag and leaving it on
the ground well away from any food preparation area.  I'm haven't tried
this technique and am not recommending it, but just want to note that
"stealth camping" significantly predates the "Ray Way".  Jardine's style
of not camping near water and not eating dinner at the campsite ought to
be even more effective [as long as he avoids camping in a berry patch!

Anyway, I'm rambling.  But I suspect that the crux of the current
dispute has something to do with the difference between what works for
large groups of people and what works for individuals.  There may very
well be solutions that work for small numbers of people (e.g.
thru-hikers) that really aren't applicable on a large scale.

Just my thoughts.

-- Jim

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Tom Reynolds [mailto:Tom.Reynolds@ilan.com]

> That said, the current, non-Garcia, Bear Can weighs 2# 3 oz. Properly
> loaded it weighs 20.5 pounds. That's 18 pounds of food or 
> 10-12 days for
> the average backpacker.
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