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[Yosemite]

avoiding bears while hiking alone

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

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avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby damu21 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:12 pm

what is the best way for one casually make noise while hiking alone to deter potential bear visitors. walk with a speaker and some music playing, bear bells, etc? Ive read the bear bells might have the opposite of the desired effect.
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby balzaccom » Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:28 pm

Since this is a forum about Yosemite, I'll answer this in terms of black bears.

You stand a much better chance of being struck by lightning than of getting attacked by a black bear...and in Yosemite the chances are virtually non-existent. In fact, the only fatal animal related incident in Yosemite over the past thirty years or so was a young boy who was killed by a deer.

We have hiked over 1,500 miles in the Sierra over the past ten years, and have seen exactly four bears in the back country. Three of those bears ran the other direction the moment they saw us. The fourth bear never saw us, and we quietly left him/her in peace at the bottom of a canyon we were hiking above.

You do not need to make noise to scare away bears on the trails in Yosemite. Bear bells probably have no effect, other than being an annoyance to other hikers.

The only places you are likely to see bears in Yosemite are in those areas frequented by lots and lots of people. That includes some of the main campgrounds in the Valley and Tuolumne Meadows, and probably includes the areas around the High Sierra Camps from time to time. Even in those areas, the bears will not bother anyone walking around---they are only interested in unattended food. Keep your food in a bear can, and out of sight, and you will be fine.

Avoid people, and you will meet only wild bears who run away when they see you.

Hope that helps.
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby damu21 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:42 pm

thanks.. yes that is reassuring. I have my bearvault. just trying to cover all my bases before I head out. thanks!
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby balzaccom » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:15 pm

You'll be fine. And you'll have a great trip. Where are you heading?
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby damu21 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:21 pm

going to hike up to clouds rest, spend the night near the summit. hike back down in the AM and then park at Yosemite creek and hike down that trail to el cap and spend the night there. then head over to the lehamite creek/north dome area for another night. and from there I am unsure since the snow creek area is closed for overnight camping. any suggestions?
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby Phil » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:47 pm

I almost completely agree with Balzaccom on this one. Almost. Most bears have already hightailed it long before you get anywhere near them, because they've heard and smelled you first and want absolutely nothing to do with you at all. Out in the backcountry, you're going to have most encounters (if you even have on at all) in camp and having to do with food. While you don't need to be yelling "hey bear, hey bear...." every ten steps while you walk, you do want to be aware that one of the leading causes of sketchy interactions is surprising a bear, especially if cubs are involved. You get this kind of thing occasionally in higher brush where you can't see very far ahead and you maybe round a corner and there they are. It's berry season, so don't be all stealthy as you move. It's nothing to get too blown up about, and it's not likely. You just want to know where you are and act appropriately for the conditions. In other words, make a little noise when you think it's prudent. Don't ever put any animal in a situation where you're perceived as an imminent threat and it's left with no other option but fight, not flight.
Last edited by Phil on Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby damu21 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 6:55 pm

I think as long as it isn't too crowded and I am not annoying other people on the trails, I might have a little music going sometimes. im hoping to make some friends and tag along with a group if possible but we will see how that goes.
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby Phil » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:12 pm

Another etiquette lesson- not everyone is going to appreciate or want to hear your music. And even though a lot of hikers/trail runners wear earbuds, while music might give you a little boost, it completely takes away from the sounds of nature and your situational awareness.

Sometimes you actually can hook up with other people, at least for segments of your shared route, but most groups are content in their ranks and prefer to only run across people they've met in passing occasionally. Although, being a complete newbie to backpacking, it couldn't hurt to hang out with some people that could give you some pointers along the way.
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:54 pm

Yep, speakers are SUPER annoying, and frankly the bears don't give any attention to noise. They are all very, very, very used to people and they aren't so nervous about the noises that go with people. Bear bells, etc are just nuisances to other people. Follow the instructions on the park's website on how to deal with bears and you're just fine.
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby Duane » Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:29 pm

My only sketchy animal encounter was in Kings Canyon National Park when an aggressive elk shoved his nose into my bowl of oatmeal one morning. He (because giant antlers) licked the bowl clean, and followed me for a few hundred yards once I packed up and headed out.

Reported the incident to the rangers. I kept thinking that one wrong reaction could have gotten me gored.
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby AlmostThere » Thu Sep 08, 2016 3:59 pm

Statistically speaking - deer (elk and moose are both deer) kill hundreds of people, and bear kills 1-5 people, per year. (Black bear in California have killed a whopping ZERO people, in recorded history.)

Regardless of what the wild animal is -- it should be wild, not two feet from you...so if at all possible just drive it off. Whether it's a chipmunk or a fawn or a bear -- here it's generally not an issue to drive it off.

Since I've never seen an elk in any of the national parks in California (except Point Reyes where they maintain several herds behind a big elk fence), I wouldn't even know what to do if one wanted my oatmeal -- I'd probably let him eat it, too. It's what you're supposed to do once a bear has the food -- it's his. That's a safety thing.... You might pay a fine if you let 'em get it, but you're not supposed to get hurt defending it either.
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby JenSaito » Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:49 am

Hello,

Here are some tricks I usually use when hiking solo:
1) I always carry bear spray
2) I never eat near my camp, where I sleep
3) I never hike with headphones on

Also, I would like to add that every hiker is afraid of a bear attack. However, statistics show that actually among 100 million people who have visited Yellowstone since 1980 only 38 were injured by grizzly bears. I have been hiking solo since 2007 and never met any.

In my opinion, there are more dangerous threats for solo hikers. I have completed the guide for female solo hikers (I believe that tips will be in most cases similar for women and men). I hope that these tips based on my own experience will be helpful!

Happy hiking :)
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby Justin-T » Fri Sep 29, 2017 6:53 am

I think 2 and 3 are great advice, but #1 is not, bear spray is actually banned in Yosemite because its unnecessary (no grizzlies here) and its regarded as a weapon:

https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/weapons.htm

The advice you're giving also appears to be intended for Yellowstone NP, where the situation is very different..
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby Phil » Fri Sep 29, 2017 7:23 am

Yep, bear spray is illegal in Yosemite, big time. It's also not necessary, ever. It's also cruel. Black bears are not inherently aggressive toward humans.

You have only two situations when hiking that you ever need to worry about bears. First, when you startle the bear and give it nowhere to run. Flight being taken off the table, it's left with fight. It wants nothing to do with you. You're a threat to it, and that's precisely what it wants to avert...that's it. Secondly, in the weird situation where you get between a sow and her cubs. I've had it happen to me exactly twice. Every situation is different, but those rare moments are about no more than everybody processing and giving each other a graceful and safe out.

The reality of black bears on the trail, if you even see them, is that it's not a big deal. In fact, walking on cobbled trails and twisting my ankle worries me infinitely more.
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Re: avoiding bears while hiking alone

Postby dgilman » Fri Sep 29, 2017 10:22 am

damu21 wrote:I think as long as it isn't too crowded and I am not annoying other people on the trails, I might have a little music going sometimes. im hoping to make some friends and tag along with a group if possible but we will see how that goes.


It's the thin bonds of humanity that stops me from attacking people on the trail playing music through a speaker.

DON'T DO IT!!!

I find groups of people talking loudly on the trail annoying, but, it's their wilderness as well and it is what it is.

But playing music from a speaker? It's as unacceptable as spitting in my face as you walk by.

You can buy headphones that leave your ears open (or use bone conduction headphones) if you must.

David
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