using an ursack

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TurboHike
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Re: using an ursack

Post by TurboHike » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:04 pm

commonloon wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 3:19 pm
The SEKI descriptions are here:

https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/ ... -areas.htm

Additional SEKI info is here:

https://www.nps.gov/seki/planyourvisit/bear_bc.htm








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Harlen
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Re: using an ursack

Post by Harlen » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:16 pm

Damn Commonloon, thanks to Turbohike, I found the other part of the Park's written description of the Dusy Basin required bearcan area- the "boundary areas."
Dusy Basin & Palisade Basin
... All camp areas from Bishop Pass to the junction with the John Muir Trail in Le Conte Canyon and all cross-country areas in Dusy Basin and Palisades Basin.
I bet I can seem ignorant but well-intentioned if confronted by Ranger Rick. It is confusing since on the one hand, they state only Dusy Basin as requiring cans. What are you going to do Shiker?
I believe it is defined such that you can camp south of Potluck Pass w/o a can.
And I believe I will believe what commonloon says above, and tell the ranger that Paul said so, and he almost has the FKT for the whole bloody SHR! Plus, I ascribe to what kpeter said as the most important point of all:
The main idea is not to save your food from bears, but to save the bears from your food. And ursaks will do that just fine.
My best method: noise makers on the sack, and lots of small, golf ball-sized rocks at hand.
Last edited by Harlen on Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: using an ursack

Post by jmherrell » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:26 pm

Some history on Dusy Basin: In the nineties I was told by the LeConte Canyon ranger that a sow and cub had discovered Dusy Basin and stole a lot of food, I think for more than one season. The problem was that almost no trees were suitable for counter-balancing. Most of the trees that might be used are weather beaten lodgepoles with very down sloping branches. I stayed there that night and spent a half hour finding a tree for a food hang. It was a very poor setup.

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bobby49
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Re: using an ursack

Post by bobby49 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:57 pm

Back in the seventies and eighties, I was leading a lot of Sierra Club backpack trips in Yosemite, and we camped at some of standard destinations known for bears. This was in the time before bear canisters, so we had to get pretty good at hanging food. Further, after we had finished hanging our food bags high, we would deploy decoys. We would find some nearby tree with branches that were not high enough, so we would string up an empty paper sack with white cord so that it was only six or seven feet off the ground and then hang noisemakers. If Mister Bear smelled our food up high, he was likely to attack the decoys first, and that gave us time to defend the real food bags on the real tree.

Any of you guys who served in Vietnam know how to make noisemakers.

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John Harper
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Re: using an ursack

Post by John Harper » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:10 pm

Used one for many years, never had an issue.

John

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Re: using an ursack

Post by oleander » Mon Aug 26, 2019 12:36 pm

jmherrell wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:26 pm
Some history on Dusy Basin: In the nineties I was told by the LeConte Canyon ranger that a sow and cub had discovered Dusy Basin and stole a lot of food, I think for more than one season. The problem was that almost no trees were suitable for counter-balancing. Most of the trees that might be used are weather beaten lodgepoles with very down sloping branches. I stayed there that night and spent a half hour finding a tree for a food hang. It was a very poor setup.
Ah. The Dusy Devil! It's been a while since I thought about her. She used to wander back and forth between Leconte Canyon and Dusy Basin and steal food. Had a reputation for daytime hiding behind trees in Leconte Canyon - at locations where backpackers tended to stop for lunch - and drag their packs away as soon as they headed down to the stream to filter water.

I did the JMT in 1999 and Dusy Devil was part of the lore all up and down the trail. My hiking partner and I did an extra-long day through LeConte Canyon so we wouldn't have to camp anywhere in her territory.

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Re: using an ursack

Post by Wandering Daisy » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:03 pm

I think an Ursack will save your food (perhaps in a mashed up state if you do not have the hard side liner) from bears, but may not save you from a citation from a ranger. There is a little clause that says hard side can OR counter balance. The requirements of counter balance are quite ridiculous- I think it is 5 feet horizontally from the tree trunk and 10 feet off the ground. Technically, above timber, there is no "counter balance" that is accepted. I have had the Mono Visitor Center rangers refuse to give me a permit (with a Ursack) if my route is above timber, regardless of bear can requirements. In the field, a reasonable ranger would likely give you a warning, but there are those ones who would cite and fine you.

I ran into the Tyndall Creek ranger last week up in Milestone Basin and we had a nice chat. He never even asked me for my permit let alone check for a bear can.

Personally, the bear can is more convenient in camp for me. But it is a pain to carry on the trail. I most often just bite the bullet and take the can. I will not advise you to take the Ursack; this is your personal choice based on the probability of losing food and/or getting a citation.

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Re: using an ursack

Post by Snowfire » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:29 pm

Last week I had a bear work over my Ursack Major XL in a relatively obscure part of the John Muir Wilderness. I had tied, using the recommended knots, the Ursack to a 6" diameter branch of a large fallen tree right at the trunk. There was an Opsack odor barrier but no metal insert. The bear flipped it up on top of the trunk and then had every advantage to use its claws and teeth to get it open. It left dozens of small holes but the fabric and rope held fast and prevented a food reward. I don't know enough about bear psychology to say if the odor/taste reward was enough to create a problem bear. Everything inside the bag was an unrecognizable mish-mash, not a single thing was left usable. They were right about "applesauce". Luckily the vast majority of our group's food was in Bearikades and Garcias which the bear batted about but did not get open, so no one went hungry.

The Ursack and several other canisters were near our cooking area and a hundred feet or more from my tent. I did not hear much noise and what I did hear I convinced myself was just from small animals. The bear did not approach any tents in our group, including one where my friend had tied his Ursack to a small tree just outside his door. I wonder if that was good luck or good strategy? He did see the bear and said it was medium sized. I'm convinced now that the Ursack is a viable alternative to a canister only if you have a plan that includes going out and actively defending it.

In the past I have double hung the Ursack but that is more for the bear's benefit than mine because it risks the bear taking off with everything if the hang is defeated. In pre-canister days I watched as a large bear gnawed off a thick high branch until the weight of the food bags dropped it within his reach. He took off in a flash with the bags and the attached huge branch, going straight up the mountainside.

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Love the Sierra
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Re: using an ursack

Post by Love the Sierra » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:44 am

We have used Ursaks for over 6 years, and still use the original ones. We also use the Opsaks. We only had one incident with a bear near Shadow Lake. (I think it was Shadow Creek above Shadow lake, camped legally) We had forgotten the Opsaks and had to use baggies. They are NOT a good substitute. He came over and tugged on the Ursak and my dog scared him away. He came back 3 more times that night and each time my dog was on guard and barked him away. The next day, we found some punctures in the Ursaks, (repaired with gear aid glue) some of the food was mushed but still in its bags and the tree was NOT damaged at all. I guess that snowfire was right, you have to defend it. We continued our trip and ate the smushed food. We only did not use the few things that actually had punctures in the food bags themselves. The dogs got to enjoy that.

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Re: using an ursack

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:00 am

Mashed up food may not be desirable, but it is still edible so you will not starve. Note that the Ursack does not have the capacity of some bear cans. I can get 11 days food in my Bearikade, but only about 8 days in the Ursack. The Urasck makes more sense for shorter trips, where the bulky bear can would be only half full.

As for weight comparison, my Bearikade Weekender weighs an ounce short of 2 pounds. The Urasck with OP sack weighs 8.8 oz. My bear can and all food for 11 days on my last trip weighed 14 pounds, starting pack weight 33 pounds. In the big picture, the extra 1.4 pounds was fairly insignificant, and could be made up simply be carrying half a liter less water (took my Sawyer mini to use on the trail, seldom carried water).

Where not required, when with others, we take one bear can and then one or two Ursacks. That way we always have a back-up. Although bears do wander about above timber, it is less likely. I think most of us know what locations are heavily used by bears, and there, I would prefer a bear can regardless of agency rules.

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