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[Yosemite]

Bear Boxes and Cans

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

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Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby Brsed » Tue May 31, 2016 4:53 pm

Just got back from a Memorial Day trip to LYV and HD with my 14 year old son and two friends. Awesome time. We had two bear cans with us that we own. While we were at LYV, a "Ranger Intern" came around and said they wanted everyone at LYV to put their bear cans in the bear lockers because there was a really smart bear around that liked to carry them away. He also said that they were encouraging everyone to put their packs in the bear lockers because the bear might run away with them as well. As you can imagine, when I went to put my toiletries and medicine in the bear locker they were jammed with bear cans and packs so there was no room. I just put my bear cans upside down in the tree line about 200 feet away between a couple of logs and slept with my medicine in a dry bag in the tent under the theory that the medicine in a dry bag smelled less like food than I did after 3 days tromping through the woods. What's with Ranger Intern? What's the use of a bear can if you have to put it in a bear locker? As long as I don't leave my can near the Merced where the bear could knock it in, why is anyone concerned with a bear batting around a bear can. Seems like a silly "policy" created on the fly that did more harm than good.
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby Phil » Tue May 31, 2016 5:49 pm

A ranger intern is a Jr Ranger, a volunteer, but they do have radios and the force of law behind them. Maybe he/she was acting under orders, but they can get a little carried away sometimes in their zeal and officiousness. It's not actually such a bad idea to throw your can and pack into a locker if there's room and the inside isn't covered with other people's food residue though. LYV and that whole area has huge bear problems, and the bears are proving smarter than a lot of the people, but are the ones that end up being euthanized for stupid people tricks. The can is one thing, but bears do associate packs with food and will sometimes haul them off to investigate what's maybe in them somewhere they won't be bothered. I hardly blame the rangers for erring on the side of caution and being reactive, but I would say that bears dragging a few cans around is the least of the problems they've got with everything else going on up there. In my opinion, fwiw, if you have an approved canister that's properly secured, and a bear doesn't obtain food, you've met Title 36 regulations in both the letter of the law and its intent, and anything else is an advisory or a suggestion until officially adopted. Technically though, while you were within regulations with your cans, you violated it with your meds and toiletries...they should have fit in the cans to begin with, no matter what. If they need more lockers to meet some new expectation of protocols in conjunction with the numbers of people being allowed in, they need to install them, and if what they have is crammed, well, they'll have to either be happy with whatever they can get or limit the number of permits they issue in order to accommodate what they're able to provide and no more. They dealt with Half Dome, and really, LYV should be next. If it's any consolation, they do the same thing up at Tuolumne too.

Don't let it jade you too much. However they do it, they're just trying to do their jobs and maintain a little order amidst all the chaos. And any major holiday weekend is a bad time to go and not expect weird things that seemingly make no sense...like being in LYV on Memorial Day weekend.
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:03 am

Pretty sure he meant the bear would bat it away since they can't pick up cans if they are properly constructed.

Rangers will in some areas tell you to put canisters in bear lockers, where bears have figured out how to get into the cans, too.

I look for a tree well -- one of those big craters where a tree used to stand -- and put the canister in there. It would take a lot of effort for a bear to kick a can out of a nice deep tree well. Putting a can under something gives a bear leverage and could end with the bear breaking the can. I have at times piled large granite pieces on the cans but we ALWAYS get out of the tent to chase off a bear -- we do that as a warning system NOT a deterrent. Bears are really quiet when they want to be, and the noise of him moving the granite is what we intend, so we can drive Yogi away.
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby mebgardner » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:49 am

Thank You, AT, and Phil.

Phil, a couple question: What is "... everything else going on up there." ? Whats going on up there?

.... and, what do you mean "... they have dealt with HD." ? What have they done there? Do you mean the permit system for the HD summit?
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jun 01, 2016 11:53 am

LYV is one of those places that can fill with peaceful campers, or become party central, covered with trash and people who don't give two figs about bears getting food or any of the rules. One of the reasons there is a ranger cabin there, and it is heavily patrolled. There have been thefts of gear in the campsites while people day hike.

I try not to end up there if I can at all help it. I'd rather not have to be on guard all the time, against bears that sneak up and grab food if you turn to look away.
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby mebgardner » Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:11 pm

OK, thanks.

Would you apply that same thinking to Lost Valley, or Echo valley?
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Jun 01, 2016 12:15 pm

There aren't as many campsites in either place and it is farther away from Half Dome, nor is it on the JMT, so no -- there may be people, but not being close to the trailhead or "bucket list" items are in their favor.

There is probably fire damage in one or both, however, and the wind event in 2011 that toppled countless dead trees up and down the mountain range took out nice campsites there too.
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby Phil » Wed Jun 01, 2016 3:32 pm

It's as AT says. Party Central a lot of the time, thefts, graffiti, vandalism, selfish and rude behavior, drug and alcohol-fueled douchery, occasional fights, garbage, no etiquette, a generally less savvy and sophisticated crowd than you would find most elsewhere...and yes indeed, bears that have two main behavioral traits: unbelievable stealth, and conditioning to where they have no fear of humans, don't care because of it, and are more like pushy scavenging dogs than wild animals. To be fair, not everyone is like that at all, but it's where the culture of backpackers and people that probably should've just car camped and saved everyone a lot of grief meet. Basically though, LYV is like living in too close a proximity next to bad neighbors in apartments without walls. So many people together are bound to lead to problems, and it does, in one form or another, too often.

No, Meb, we've never, ever had any problem of consequence with anyone the further out of the Valley and LYV we've gone. People usually greet you in the backcountry as kindred spirits with a common bond. We leave each others stuff alone because we want our stuff left alone, we want our own space and as much of a quality "wilderness experience" as we can get, and we've put in the effort so we're empathetic to others that have too. We might all want the best campsite, but we have a higher level of respect for one another and nature because we don't have much choice but to be part of it and make it all work together. It's much harder to screw someone over that you've maybe met even briefly in passing or that you share a common interest with than it is a stranger that you couldn't even be bothered to look at and say 'hello' to.

And yes, I'm talking about the HD quota. LYV shouldn't be about a mad dash for just anyone as soon as dates open up, it should be solely reserved for backpackers that need a stopover on the way out from somewhere else...and that shouldn't include walking up from the Valley and taking two days to day-hike Half Dome instead of just one (watch that quota demand drop like a rock then!) Just like backpacker's camps. If people want to camp there, do the work to get there and appreciate it more. The bear problems would all but disappear. The crowds would diminish, as well as the law enforcement requirements that go with it. And who knows, it might actually become a natural environment again and be a better place for that reason alone.
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby Brsed » Wed Jun 01, 2016 4:18 pm

Thanks folks. It was a relatively minor irritant -- more of a head scratcher. I thought most of the folks up top at LYV over Memorial weekend were quiet and respectful, but I can see how a party atmosphere could develop. We pretty much kept to ourselves and were able to carve out a piece of quiet. I'm glad we stayed there, but once was enough -- will move on deeper next time.
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby mebgardner » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:39 am

Wow, the LYV discussion is a bit sad for me. It's really changed, then.

Thanks for the tips about the Lost Valley and Echo Valley campsites. I read: fewer, but not all gone. That, and the downed trees and fire damage. OK, good to know. Phil had raved about Echo many times, so I assumed it was pristine (well, as pristine as a place can be with that kind of pressure on it).

Thank You!
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby balzaccom » Thu Jun 02, 2016 7:59 am

mebgardner wrote:Wow, the LYV discussion is a bit sad for me. It's really changed, then.

Thank You!



Well....not so much. I remember camping there in the 1970's and the bears were smart enough to trace the ropes suspending the hanging packs and then snap the ropes...watching the packs crash to the ground. And I was there once with a group of five people and a dog, and had a bear walk right into our campsite and knock the pot off the fire so it could eat the food.

Too many people.

Then again, in the past ten years we've done at least ten trips into Yosemite and have seen a bear exactly once, in the upper reaches of Virginia Canyon, and it raced off through the woods faster than I imagined possible when it saw us.

But there aren't many people up there.
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Re: Bear Boxes and Cans

Postby Phil » Thu Jun 02, 2016 12:58 pm

With the explosion of wilderness permit applications in recent years, LYV has taken on more of the problems of the Valley, and really, any place that goes through the same problems endemic to any growing city...the bigger the population, the more factors that crop up and have to be addressed. Bears are stuck in the urban interface and have adapted. It's been the same since they used to dump garbage in the meadows just to watch 60 bears at a time fight for it. If we need food, we go to the grocery store where it's easy and we can find all our favorite products. Same thing with bears and other animals. Who wants to hunt and forage when it's all there for the taking, people are just careless enough to make it worthwhile, and that food reward most likely tastes better, too?

Depending on your perspective in what you want out of it, the farther out you go, the better off you are.
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