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[Yosemite]

Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby mebgardner » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:39 am

Prior to ascending the cables at HD, I believe I will be leaving the backpack, and bear canister, near the ascent point.

Is their a recommended place / method for leaving the pack contents, specifically the canister?

The park is a very different place, management wise, from what I remember, from the '70s and '80s...

Thanks.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby balzaccom » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:44 am

There is NOT a recommended place to leave packs, but you will see a few left in various places. And you will also not see others that have been more effectively hidden. The basic rule is simple: take EVERYTHING that has a smell and put it into your bear can. That includes chapstick, handy-wipes, sunscreen, etc. Take the bear can and leave it outside your pack, so the bear won't rip your pack to shreds trying to get the bear can out.

Take everything else out of your pack so the bear (or other animals) won't rip your pack to shreds while you are climbing Half Dome.

Leave everything in a neat stack near your pack, and leave the bear can fifty feet from your pack.

Alternatively, you could leave everything in your pack and hike up to Cloud's Rest, which is a a nicer hike, with better views, and when you get to the top, you can look down on the crowds on top of Half Dome...
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Mar 10, 2016 11:05 am

I would not put down a pack for very long unattended anywhere in Yosemite or Sequoia/Kings - the bears know what they are and don't care if you put everything in the bear can. They'll take off with it and tear it up just to check. There was a particular bear in Sequoia for a while who would bluff charge hikers just so they would drop the packs and run off.

I would also find a tree well or somewhere the bear can can't be rolled away down a steep cliff. There is a bear that frequented the Snow Creek trail tossing cans off cliffs to break them - closed that area to camping for a while. Bears are arguably better hikers than we are, and frequently roam around a wide area. Snow Creek is just across the Valley from the Half Dome area.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby Justin-T » Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:14 pm

Advice above is good, in particular the "other animals" balzaccom mentioned - chances of a bear there are slim, but squirrels and marmots are almost guaranteed to be eyeing your pack within a few minutes of you starting up the cables.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby mebgardner » Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:37 pm

Huh. OK, I understand. I got the tip about CloudsRest. We'll be descending from there into LYV, and the *many* times I've already been the route, I've always ducked out of "doing the cables". Well, this time, my brother has asked to come along, and so, since I've never been up there, we're gonna go up.

AT, your advice is "not to leave packs". Is it appropriate to take a pack up the cables? If not, then, well, what? Just not go up, 'cause you can't leave the pack? See how I'm confused about that? But, I've read the threads on this site about the specific bear activities you've mentioned, so I understand *why* you write "don't leave the packs". The assumption becomes, if I follow that (not leave the packs) advice, and I either: can not, or will not, take the pack up the cables, then whats left? Not go up, right?

I get the drill: Open all pockets, remove all stinky things (into the can), no fair having a "good smelling" pack aka soap bar, toothpaste, etc , remove all pack stuff scatter it around (OK, pile neatly), ditch the can separately, in a tree bole if possible (good call, AT), or some place where it wont roll away under a nudging nose or paw, and go have worry-free fun.

Marmots and squirrels have left my pack alone when completely opened. I have left my pack outside the tent at nite for decades, never any problems. They look, sniff, (never seen'em squat), and leave. Good thing they don't have pack rat tendencies. I live with those critters here in the Tucson Sonoran Desert, man I hate them.

OK, there was that one time, when I forgot about the bar of soap in the side pocket. He chewed the pocket to get it, then "coughed" up. (You've eaten soap as a kid right? Pretty awful). We laughed for days about that bear gagging. That had us in stitches! It was O'Dark thirty at nite, and that durned bear grabbed my pack and took off down the mountain, dumping my pack along the way. I chased it in my skivvies, just being rudely awakened out of my bag. My plane ticket, my cash, my stuff! Took me hours to recollect it all. OK, I think my buddies were laughing more at me than the bear gagging. I have a selective memory about that part now :)

Given the popularity of the ascent, I'm surprised there's no "hang" cable. I was kinda hoping I would be told here, "Oh yeah, just use the hang cable..."
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:41 pm

You can't hang anything in Yosemite - bears know how to get hung food/items. They do it quickly and efficiently.

I do as they suggest in Tuolumne Meadows backpacker camp - put the backpack in the bear locker. There are lockers in the Little Yosemite Valley campsites. Either that, or remove all smellable items, and leave it zipped up out of sight in a tent.

That's if I ever bothered to do Half Dome again -- which I won't, because there are plenty of other places to go with better views and fewer tourists with selfie sticks.

Yes, I would wear the backpack up the cables, before I would ever leave it anywhere in plain sight. I wore a full backpack to the top of Alta Peak, after all -- a harder hike, with awesome payoffs.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby mebgardner » Thu Mar 10, 2016 4:55 pm

I've never read about, or seen, anyone wearing a pack up HD. I'm sure it's been done, I've just never seen it.

*That's* commitment.

I really appreciate all the options, and advice. Thank You, all.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby mebgardner » Thu Mar 10, 2016 5:03 pm

AT, I am curious about one of these comments.

I've seen a lot of the park, and to my mind, the view over the valley is pretty spectacular. Balzac has a good tip, the CR view of that *is* better (I think. I'll see HD view shortly, once will be enough)

What I'm curious about is, in your opinion, what's as good as, or better, experience in the sierra?

I get the "lack of tourist, and their selfie sticks" point. Know that the death rate by selfie stick is rising rapidly (no bull). (I don't own a stick).

I'd really like your opinion of where you would go to, to see again.

Thanks.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby Phil » Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:27 pm

If you're going up HD, but coming from Sunrise, why not drop down from Cloud's Rest and head out cross-country on the JMT descent instead of re-climbing up from LYV? As early in the season as you're going, you could even camp near the ponds along the HD spur trail or creek running down from 1/4 Domes and hit the cables first thing in the morning before the masses get there and clog things up. Getting lost in that area isn't going to happen- you'll hit the trail or come to a really big cliff to your right, at which point, you should stop. Bring gloves for the cables.

If you really need to leave your pack, wedge your canister between a couple radicals. That's the way to go, and if you do, religiously follow all the usual protocols that Balzaccom and AT mention. Just carry it up, it's no big deal. Bears are quick and slick, but on HD, besides chipmunks, I would be more concerned with people rooting through my gear, and enough apathy or cluelessness on the part of others to not call them on it. Animals operate on instinct, people not so much, but we do covet shiny objects that might look good hanging off our day packs.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby Justin-T » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:06 pm

mebgardner wrote:Marmots and squirrels have left my pack alone when completely opened. I have left my pack outside the tent at nite for decades, never any problems. They look, sniff, (never seen'em squat), and leave. Good thing they don't have pack rat tendencies.

The problem is this is not any old spot in the backcountry, every day there are hundreds of people passing though a very small area at the sub-dome, spilling food, feeding them deliberately etc, so are tame enough to not be scared. I've seen them dragging stuff out of unattended packs.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby Phil » Thu Mar 10, 2016 9:50 pm

AlmostThere wrote: I do as they suggest in Tuolumne Meadows backpacker camp - put the backpack in the bear locker.


If there's room, always.

The only thing to keep in mind is if someone spilled food in the locker, you don't want to be laying your pack in it, especially if you're headed back out. You turn your pack into a giant smelly bag of whatever. So look before you just shove it in there, and don't do it if it seems sketchy.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Mar 11, 2016 8:41 am

There are so many places now where animals have learned the wonders of packs - and they removed the outhouse on Whitney and force you to carry your own poop out now, thanks to the love of poop the marmots there developed.

I have had ruined trekking pole handles, stood sentry while others set up camp to keep marmots away from our stuff, had dishes set out to dry stolen out of camp and had to search in the rock piles for them -- complacently leave the pack laying around is a thing of the past. Critters roll up into our campsite some nights looking at us while we eat.

The bear that sometimes hangs out in Paradise Valley in Kings Canyon triggers rangers to ask you to keep your Bear Vault in lockers, because he can pop off the lids by deforming the can.

No more assumptions for me. One night, on the JMT, the bear kept coming back, coming back, coming back -- we buried the canisters in 50 lb granite flakes, as an early warning system, and got up to chase him off each time. I slept with my pack inside the hammock with me, instead of hanging it outside on the head end. We picked up everything out of the camp kitchen --usually I leave the stove out without a qualm. It's come a long, long way from the days we could leave our food lying around randomly in camp and still have it in the morning untouched.

As for where I prefer to go, any more I avoid Yosemite, except for when friends who've begged me to take them send me back. Off trail and high in the Kings Canyon backcountry is perfect for trips when you never want to see a soul. Fishing the high lakes that aren't being gillnetted to make room for frogs and not seeing people for days is quite restorative.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby Phil » Fri Mar 11, 2016 2:02 pm

More secluded and infinitely less crowded- Trinity Alps, Siskiyous, Marble Mountains, Oregon Cascades. Have a look. Calling it rugged and desolate is putting it lightly. There's a reason why it's Sasquatch country.
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Re: Leaving a bear canister / backpack near Half Dome

Postby balzaccom » Fri Mar 11, 2016 4:35 pm

There are plenty of places where you can spend a few days without seeing a soul in Yosemite. But they aren't along the JMT...
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