High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

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kpeter
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Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by kpeter » Sat Feb 15, 2020 5:19 pm

In the 1990s my friends and I hung our food near Charlotte Lake when we found the bear box packed to the rim by a horsepacking outfit. We sustained bear attacks on our hung food twice that night. But that was in timber.

On our way out we put our camp near a snow melt stream on the High Trail just west of Kearsarge Pass. There were only saplings there but we thought--as many do--that if we were above timberline we would be safe. That was foolish of us. The most sustained and successful attack on our food occurred there, at about 11,300.

Once a bear learns the smell of food they pursue it with a nose more effective than a bloodhound's, and can pick up the scent from miles away. If they don't know the scent they can walk right by a bearbox and not even take a look. It is ALL about whether a bear becomes ruined by learning to associate the scent with something edible. Once they do, they will behave in all kinds of unnatural ways to get to it. For as long as they may live.

This certainly fits with the narrative of others who had bear attacks around Big Pothole on the other side of the pass. There probably were some habituated bears who routinely patrolled both sides of the pass for backpacker food.

Since the era of bear canisters began, I have not suffered a single additional bear attack.








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wildhiker
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Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by wildhiker » Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:24 am

In August of 2000, my wife and I backpacked up into the Tablelands of Sequoia Park. Upon advice of the ranger at the permit station, we rented bear canisters for the first time (and then bought our own the next year). At Moose Lake, about 10,600 feet and entirely well above timberline with not a tree for miles, we ran into another group already camped there who described how they had stayed up all night scaring off a bear that was trying to get their food because they did not have canisters.
-Phil

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thegib
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Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by thegib » Sun Feb 16, 2020 9:43 am

I passsed a bear immediately below Bishop Pass. I was off trail heading SW towards the first lake and he/she was heading out. We gave each other 30' of clearance and didn't make a fuss.

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Harlen
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Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by Harlen » Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:07 pm

wildhiker wrote:
At Moose Lake, about 10,600 feet and entirely well above timberline with not a tree for miles, we ran into another group already camped there who described how they had stayed up all night scaring off a bear that was trying to get their food because they did not have canisters.
Here's Moose Lake, site of Phil's scavenging bear story:
100_0114.jpg

As for trying to scare bears off of tree-hung food bags, a friend and I once had the bears scare us out of our camp instead. On an April trip in the mid-eighties, we had snowshoed up East Creek to climb Mt. Brewer. While camped at East Lake we awoke to the loud cries of a young bear who was right above us, in the tree next door to the tree that had our food hang. I think the cub was complaining that it couldn't find the food, but we worried that Momma bear might have thought we were harassing her cub. She made loud "woofing" noises pretty near to our tent, so we decided to vacate the area so the bear cub could climb down and return to mom. It worked, but we had a tense and freezing quarter hour in the dark, worrying that we were between a Momma and her cub. I have heard that bears have learned to send the cubs up for the hung food, since they can get out on smaller limbs.
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kpeter
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Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by kpeter » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:19 pm

Harlen wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 6:07 pm
I have heard that bears have learned to send the cubs up for the hung food, since they can get out on smaller limbs.
Yes, this was exactly what happened to us twice at Charlotte. A mother stayed below and sent her cub--more like a yearling--up the tree and out on the branch to swipe at the hung food. It was all the more dangerous than a "regular" bear attack since in scaring off the mother we did not want to incite her protection instincts for the cub.

Thank goodness for bear canisters now.

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tmorton23
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Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by tmorton23 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:54 pm

I have a photo of a nice fresh bearprint at Crown Lake in the Hoover Wilderness (approx. 9,500 feet).

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Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by bobby49 » Tue Feb 18, 2020 1:29 pm

Bears used to hit us at the middle lake of Young Lakes, at about 10,000 feet.

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Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by hurricaniac » Thu Feb 20, 2020 11:50 pm

I saw bear tracks in snow while skiing over Pterodactyl Pass elev. 11k from Lonely Lake in May. The tracks were headed north toward the Tablelands, no trees in sight.

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Re: High elevations and Bears in the Sierra

Post by bobby49 » Fri Feb 21, 2020 12:15 am

Interesting photo. I see the front paw and rear paw tracks of the bear, but then there are some smaller tracks also, perhaps prey.

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