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Bear boxes and overnight parking for Porcupine Creek

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

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Bear boxes and overnight parking for Porcupine Creek

Postby Cee » Thu Jul 07, 2016 11:41 pm


I have some totally novice "bear" questions mainly. When I was getting my wilderness permit, the ranger I had spoken with mentioned that there was overnight parking and there were bear boxes at the Porcupine Creek trailhead for backpackers with permits. My two questions are:
  • Is parking at the Porcupine Creek trailhead easy to find (the earliest we would get there would be 9 or 9:30 am, after picking up our permit.)
  • When he mentioned bear boxes at the PC TH where we could leave food for the return night,
    • Did he mean individual bear boxes? And, if that is what they are, is each person supposed to lock theirs individually?
    • Or, are they like a large community refrigerator where everybody crams their food in -- place your food in a bag with your name and date and then scramble through the box when you get back to find your food since it is bound to have moved?
    • If they are like a giant community refrigerator, is it pretty easy to get space at the box at the Porcupine Creek TH?
Honestly, I am really looking forward to the hiking and the views, but I am NOT looking forward to meeting the bears -- from what I have heard, they are totally habituated to humans, are very aggressive, and will have no problems taking our bear canisters and rolling them around so we have to play scavenger hunt the next morning.

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Re: Bear boxes and overnight parking for Porcupine Creek

Postby Phil » Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:55 am

Porcupine Creek trailhead is easy to find. There's another parking area not too far before it, so don't get confused, just wait for the sign. Look for Porcupine Flat campground, and it's about a mile or so past that, give or take. Pretty much impossible to miss. A lot of parking, including a wide shoulder on both sides of the road, but it can get really crowded on weekends and sometimes later in the day...mostly day-hikers going over to North Dome.

Oh yeah, lot's of bear lockers at Porcupine Creek. Stacked up, in fact. Pit toilets too. It's the real deal of trailheads. The lockers are all shared. Locks get cut off almost immediately. If one locker is full, go to the next. If you have to store your stuff in several, remember the locker numbers. Don't store anything in fancy stuff sacks or containers, just use a box or shopping bag. You can put your name on it if you want, but no worries about dates if you're only going to be out a short time...it'll be there when you get back. People are good about leaving stuff alone except for shifting things around to make more room. What they're not always good at is latching them properly. Don't be that guy.

If you have your food tight, you'll have no problems with bears, even if they show up. They're tricky and amazingly quiet when they want to be, but just keep that in mind and don't give them the opportunity to get your stuff. They don't usually take the can far away, usually no more than a few feet, because they can't get their mouths around them. If they do for some reason, you'll find it. And if they bother at all, they'll bat them around a little, but the cans are engineered to withstand that. Just make sure you store your can behind some rocks, a fallen tree, or in some depression so that the can isn't rolled off a cliff or into water. When you find your campsite, evaluate the situation from that perspective and it'll become obvious where to store the can for the night...straight, clear line close to a cliff, bad...something in the way, good.

If you encounter a bear at all, and you don't have any food storage issues, and keep your pack in your vestibule or close by and opened up like you're supposed to, no big deal. At night, you don't even really need to get out of bed to deal with it, because there's nothing to really deal with. If a bear comes into your site while you're up, yell at it or just let it do its thing. A little anxiety is normal, but there's not really much to worry about in terms an actual imminent threat to your personal safety. If you look at it pragmatically and, given the chance, take the time to watch them, I think you'll find them more fascinating than scary.
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Re: Bear boxes and overnight parking for Porcupine Creek

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:23 am

Aggressive to YOU, not at all. The ones that start to head that way get shot. That's how they manage things in Yosemite.

Poor food storage practices kills bears, just like speeding through the park does. Nine bears so far this year have died -- three cubs lost their mom and had to go to a refuge in Tahoe, because of speeding. Take it easy, have fun. Keep a clean camp and store stuff per regulations, you'll do great.
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Re: Bear boxes and overnight parking for Porcupine Creek

Postby balzaccom » Fri Jul 08, 2016 10:10 am

Those two answers should be part of an FAQ section for these boards. Nice work, Phil and AT.
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