High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar
robertseeburger
Topix Regular
Posts: 224
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:53 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: San Mateo Ca

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by robertseeburger » Sat Dec 29, 2018 9:32 am

Interesting posts so far.. Sounds like there are indeed a couple of people who have seen a bear above treeline..but not very many. I know I felt it was strange when I was mine years ago. I love the Roguephotonic picture.. actually the area is reasonably close to where I had my experience offset by 12 years. I miss seeing his posts...








User avatar
sekihiker
Founding Member
Posts: 624
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2005 2:47 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by sekihiker » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:34 pm

I saw bear scat at around 11,000 feet on Glacier Ridge. For a photo, see: http://www.sierrahiker.com/GlacierRidge/index.html
Last edited by sekihiker on Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
AlmostThere
Topix Addict
Posts: 2722
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:38 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by AlmostThere » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:19 am

Since when is seeing "not many bears" any indicator that there are not very many bears? People who visit the parks a lot rarely see bears in lower elevations. But we know good and well that there are in fact many bears.

User avatar
paul
Topix Expert
Posts: 586
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:35 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by paul » Thu Jan 03, 2019 10:15 am

The most memorable pile of bear scat I have seen was at about 11,300 on the way up to Forester pass. This was in the days before can requirements, so we were hanging every night. We were looking for a campsite, and thinking that since there were no trees big enough to hang from, no need to worry. Spotted a lovely level area and strolled over to check it out. RIght dead center was a healthy bear turd - and it was partly aluminum foil.

User avatar
creekfeet
Topix Regular
Posts: 104
Joined: Sun Nov 16, 2014 11:54 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by creekfeet » Mon Jan 07, 2019 9:30 pm

I feel like 95% of Sierra bears hang-out in the frontcountry, as they've learned that this is the best place to score an easy meal. I've done a good amount of backpacking, and I've probably seen less than five bears once I've gotten more than five miles past the trailhead. There have been times when I've seen that many bears in a single day in the Giant Forest. Whereas frontcountry bears can hardly be bothered to move when you shout and throw pine cones at them, every time I've seen a backcountry bear they've scattered as soon as they saw me coming. Ironically the only time I've had my food taken in the backcountry was when I stored it away in a bear box and a mouse or some little critter got to it.

User avatar
giantbrookie
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Founding Member & Forums Moderator
Posts: 2992
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:22 am
Experience: N/A
Location: Fresno
Contact:

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by giantbrookie » Mon Jan 07, 2019 10:10 pm

The highest elevation I've ever seen a bear in the Sierra was only about 10500' or so in the unnamed drainage NE of Arrow Peak and SW of Bench Lake. This was also the healthiest and most beautiful bear I've seen in the Sierra. It was enormous and jet black, seemingly blue black, in color. It moved pretty quickly through the trees so I was unable to photograph it but it was quite a sight. Other than that I've had an amazingly small number of bear sightings in the Sierra backcountry considering how many days I've spent up there, although I've seen bear scat all over the range (don't recall highest elevation for that, though). I recall seeing a mother and cub somewhere near Ebbetts Pass once, but I recall it was so close to the kickoff point to the Raymond Lake trail so as to qualify as nearly front country (owing to the many campgrounds nearby). I've seen a ton of bears in the front country, in contrast, with the highest numbers being at Tuolumne Meadows in the late 1960s when my family would stay there.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

User avatar
JWreno
Topix Regular
Posts: 220
Joined: Thu Feb 04, 2010 9:55 am
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker
Location: Reno

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by JWreno » Tue Jan 08, 2019 9:44 am

I used to lose sleep when defending hung food bags in Yosemite in the 90s. Once we started only using bear cans I never lose sleep and only see bears a few times on a trip. The last time I saw an active bear after food was on the PCT at Woods creek at dinner time. I try to avoid high use campsites like that. The bear was looking to see what food could be had while people were out cooking it at dusk. We had our food put away and it was interesting seeing people yelling at the the bear as it moved once campsite to the next.
Jeff

User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Docent
Posts: 4963
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Experience: N/A
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Contact:

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jan 08, 2019 10:04 am

Does anyone know if there has been a robust population/range survey for Sierra bears? Rather than hearsay from individuals, a real count of bears? I suppose bear poop or tracks may be easier to map than bears themselves. Can radio collars be put on bears, or do they just pull them off?

I have seen a lot more bears in the backcountry than creekfeet, probably because I have done a bit of backpacking in northern Yosemite. Currently I see bears about every other trip, whereas, in the past, I have observed as many as 8 bears per day. I suspect a lot of backpackers simply do not see bears because they are not looking for them. Most of my "sightings" are just a patch of fur scurrying off. However I have had several standoffs with bears close-by; mostly mother bear and cub- quite scary! Rather than say 95% of bears are in the "front country", I would say 95% of bears in the sub-alpine ecosystem, but still in the "backcountry". I have seen and encountered enough bears that I would be very happy if I never saw another!

User avatar
Kelbaker
Topix Acquainted
Posts: 30
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2010 4:00 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by Kelbaker » Tue Jan 08, 2019 11:50 am

I remember about 15 years ago watching a momma and her two cubs going West over Kearsarge pass which is about 11,700. Also remember seeing bear scat while approaching Harrison pass which is a bit higher.

User avatar
bobby49
Topix Expert
Posts: 846
Joined: Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:17 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by bobby49 » Tue Jan 08, 2019 1:18 pm

Wandering Daisy, I would bet that the national parks have wildlife statistics on a per-species basis.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: hiker410 and 14 guests