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Bear Can question

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  • Chip
    I m confused about bear cans and where they are required on the JMT. I m most concerned about the first miles south after The Muir Trail Ranch. Is it legal to
    Message 1 of 18 , Oct 17, 2013
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      I'm confused about bear cans and where they are required on the JMT. I'm most concerned about the first miles south after The Muir Trail Ranch. Is it legal to bear bag and would there be trees to do the job in that section?
    • John Ladd
      ... It is legal to counterbalance hang. (PCT Method hanging no longer approved) It can be quite hard to find an appropriate tree. The trees tend to have very
      Message 2 of 18 , Oct 17, 2013
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        On Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 2:57 PM, Chip <cencir@...> wrote:
        Is it legal to bear bag and would there be trees to do the job in that section?

        It is legal to counterbalance hang. (PCT Method hanging no longer approved)

        It can be quite hard to find an appropriate tree. The trees tend to have very down-sloping branches in order to shed snow.


        John Curran Ladd
        1616 Castro Street
        San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
        415-648-9279
      • robert shattuck
        I m confused about bear cans and where they are required on the JMT. Chip, No need to be confusedûûjust consider bear canisters required, essential and
        Message 3 of 18 , Oct 17, 2013
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          "I'm confused about bear cans and where they are required on the JMT." 

          Chip, 

          No need to be confused––just consider bear canisters required, essential and bother-free, along the entire JMT. There might be a section, such as the one just after MTR where you're not required to have a canister, but why go to all the trouble to deal with hanging a bear bag?

          Are you an experienced bear-bag-hanger . . . then maybe it's no big deal for you to get a perfect hang, all the time . . . or maybe you
          are just worried that lugging around a canister is really going to put a crimp on your daily mileage. 

          Picture this ( memory I hold dear) you get up to the most lovely spot you've ever been in and the setting sun is brilliant. There's a cozy couple a few yards away and you can see their bear canisters a tucked back a aways, while they sit there, taking in the moment. 

          Then it's your turn. You don't have a canister and while you'd like to sit and just relax, it's getting dark and you've got to unravel your fifty yards of nylon cord and find just the right rock, not to mention a decent tree––let's not forget the perfect toss, or not and then a whole lot of swearing, as all the while, you look out and see the sunset, see the happy couple . . . you swear a lot more and decide there and then that it was really stupid of you not to have spent the bucks and carried  the negligible weight of a canister. 

          Buy/rent a canister . . . just because they aren't required, doesn't mean you're not going to run into any bears . . . Tip, though––dependingon your mileage, if you, say . . . get off the boat at Florence, hike into MTR, then plan on doing another seven or so miles, there are three bridgfes along the way that you could hang your bag from. 

          I spent a good while this time, sitting under the Piute Bridge and really thinking hard about if a bear could get a hang off that bridge, and almost think they could, as long as the current isn't too bad ( it's always pretty good) . . . but the other two bridges, another 4 or so miles further, you'd be gold. 

          But carry a canister . . . relax . . . bear bagging is so '70's. 

          BOB
          http://www.summitpost.org/plans/view_activity.php?post_id=6480



        • Ray Rippel
          Good day, Chip, I think Bob is exactly right--just stick with a canister. For more on what I consider to be the best of the lot, see:
          Message 4 of 18 , Oct 17, 2013
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            Good day, Chip,

            I think Bob is exactly right--just stick with a canister.

            For more on what I consider to be the best of the lot, see: http://jmtbook.com/the-best-bear-canister-for-the-john-muir-trail/

            Good hiking, Ray

            Ray Rippel
            Author, Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail
          • Don Amundson
            On Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 2:57 PM, Chip wrote: Is it legal to bear bag and would there be trees to do the job in that section? ... To
            Message 5 of 18 , Oct 17, 2013
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              On Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 2:57 PM, Chip <cencir@...> wrote:
              Is it legal to bear bag and would there be trees to do the job in that section?

              ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

              To elaborate on John's post (a rare occurance).  I would say many JMT hikers hang their  food for a day or two after a resupply at MTR. It's best to get everything in you're canister but it practice it's hard to do. It takes some experience to manage to get everything in a canister from that point to Whitney or your next resupply point. The trees are there, assuming your camp is below tree line and you can hang all the way down to Pinchot Pass where you enter the Ray Lakes zone with it's special requirements. 

              Here is a link to the map of where canisters are required plus additional info.

              http://www.sierrawild.gov/bears/food-storage-map
            • jaymiche@ymail.com
              Definitely carry a canister, but maybe your question is what to do after a resupply at MTR. We had too much food to fit in the canister for the first two
              Message 6 of 18 , Oct 17, 2013
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                Definitely carry a canister, but maybe your question is what to do after a resupply at MTR.  We had too much food to fit in the canister for the first two nights SB from MTR.  Between MTR and Pinchot Pass you can bear bag the overage.  We camped just south of MTR after resupplying and it was easy enough to find a spot to bear bag the extra.  Did the same the next night although you have to start factoring in the lack of trees at elevation when you pick your campsite.  I am also careful to stay away from more popular sites/lakes where bears might go looking.  After that, all food fit in the canister.  The extra food was insurance in case we walked at the slow end of our expected miles per day range.  We gave it away to NB hikers after Forester.  I am not sure this site is up-to-date, but it shows where the cans are required and where storage boxes are located.  http://www.sierrawild.gov/bears/food-storage-map



                ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <ray.rippel@...> wrote:

                Good day, Chip,

                I think Bob is exactly right--just stick with a canister.

                For more on what I consider to be the best of the lot, see: http://jmtbook.com/the-best-bear-canister-for-the-john-muir-trail/

                Good hiking, Ray

                Ray Rippel
                Author, Planning Your Thru-Hike of the John Muir Trail
              • Chip
                Thank you for the info on bear canisters. I intend to carry one the whole time, what I m concerned about is not being able to fit everything in it right after
                Message 7 of 18 , Oct 18, 2013
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                  Thank you for the info on bear canisters. I intend to carry one the whole time, what I'm concerned about is not being able to fit everything in it right after my resupply. I'm planning on buying a 10 1/2 inch Custom Bearikade that will fit in my pack. I'm thinking the food for 100 miles in 10 days might not fit in the can.
                • kennethjessett@sbcglobal.net
                  Chip, I suggest you pack everything you plan to ship to the MTR tightly into the canister before you start your trip. If it s to be a 10 day supply, make sure
                  Message 8 of 18 , Oct 18, 2013
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                    Chip,

                    I suggest you pack everything you plan to ship to the MTR tightly into the canister before you start your trip. If it's to be a 10 day supply, make sure it all goes in.

                    Crunch all the crunchables (the food is for eating, not to look good) and practice squeezing it all in. Then unpack it all and place in the bucket and ship. When you reach the ranch, just reverse the process. If it goes in before the trip, it will go back in again.

                    And remember, you carry loose in the pack the food you plan to eat the day you leave the ranch. As long as you are moving, the bears will not bother waylaying you. ;-)

                    Ken.

                    --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Chip <cencir@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Thank you for the info on bear canisters. I intend to carry one the whole time, what I'm concerned about is not being able to fit everything in it right after my resupply. I'm planning on buying a 10 1/2 inch Custom Bearikade that will fit in my pack. I'm thinking the food for 100 miles in 10 days might not fit in the can.
                    >
                  • longritchie
                    Chip, 10 1/2 inches is the length of the Weekender model. Did you mean to write some other length? While it is possible to cram enough food into a canister
                    Message 9 of 18 , Oct 18, 2013
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                      Chip, 10 1/2 inches is the length of the Weekender model. Did you mean to write some other length?

                      While it is possible to cram enough food into a canister that size to last ten days I personally would not like the result. If all you care about is the calories as fuel and not about taste or texture then you can do it. More likely it won't fit.

                      It isn't alway possible to properly hang food. If you can't fit it all in your canister I would suggest you augment it with an Ursack. I don't know what the current rules are with regard to using them in the areas where canisters are not mandatory. Maybe somebody here knows that. But I think they are a reasonable compromise if you find yourself camping where proper counter balancing is not feasible and you can't fit all of your food in your canister. The other alternatives are to arrange another resupply, eat less or walk faster, or stay home. I'd take the Ursack.


                      ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                      Chip,

                      I suggest you pack everything you plan to ship to the MTR tightly into the canister before you start your trip. If it's to be a 10 day supply, make sure it all goes in.

                      Crunch all the crunchables (the food is for eating, not to look good) and practice squeezing it all in. Then unpack it all and place in the bucket and ship. When you reach the ranch, just reverse the process. If it goes in before the trip, it will go back in again.

                      And remember, you carry loose in the pack the food you plan to eat the day you leave the ranch. As long as you are moving, the bears will not bother waylaying you. ;-)

                      Ken.

                      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Chip <cencir@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Thank you for the info on bear canisters. I intend to carry one the whole time, what I'm concerned about is not being able to fit everything in it right after my resupply. I'm planning on buying a 10 1/2 inch Custom Bearikade that will fit in my pack. I'm thinking the food for 100 miles in 10 days might not fit in the can.
                      >
                    • John Ladd
                      ... I m a big believer in the Ursack as a backup to a legal counterweight hang for people who decide to leave MTR with more food than fits the can. The Ursack
                      Message 10 of 18 , Oct 18, 2013
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                        On Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 11:28 AM, longritchie <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                        It isn't alway possible to properly hang food. If you can't fit it all in your canister I would suggest you augment it with an Ursack. I don't know what the current rules are with regard to using them in the areas where canisters are not mandatory. Maybe somebody here knows that

                        I'm a big believer in the Ursack as a backup to a legal counterweight hang for people who decide to leave MTR with more food than fits the can. The Ursack makes it quite unlikely that a bear who defeats a marginal hang will get a food reward (even if he crushes your food and gets slobber all over it).  

                        But it is the hang that makes it legal. The Ursack adds nothing to the legality. But at least it minimizes the chance of getting a bear hooked on human food.

                        BTW, I think hanging is a bad solution. I strongly prefer getting a pack big enough to accommodate a can big enough to contain all the food. For me, that's a 90+ liter pack and the 16 inch custom Bearikade. Saves a lot of worry, permits a greater variety of foods, and it's really not that hard to carry a high-volume pack if you keep the weight within reason (50 lbs for me, but YMMV) and just learn to walk slowly enough so that the pace fits the weight.  

                        But if you do need to keep pack volume low, the counterbalance hang + Ursack is probably the least-bad way to deal with 10 days of food.

                        John Curran Ladd
                        1616 Castro Street
                        San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
                        415-648-9279
                      • ravi_jmt2013
                        The 10.5 inch size is actually the Weekender model and can acommodate 656 cubic inches according to the Wild Ideas website. The Expedition is 14.5 inches and
                        Message 11 of 18 , Oct 18, 2013
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                           The 10.5 inch size is actually the Weekender model and can acommodate 656 cubic inches according to the Wild Ideas website.  The Expedition is 14.5 inches and has a capacity of 906 cubic inches. 


                          I have a custom 12 inch model capable of storing 750 cubic inches, so this is almost half way between the weekender and expedition.  I planned on storing eight days of food to get me from MTR to Whitney Portal but I ended up making a decision to use up that food in seven days and finished the trip a day early.  My experience was similar to what many have reported ... I was much more hungry on the second half of the trip than the first half and I didn't realize that this would be the case until a couple of days south of MTR.  For future trips, I would feel comfortable using my custom Bearikade for 8 or even 9 days at the start of a trip but for resupplying mid way on a thru hike I would say it is good for only 7 days for me.





                          ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                          Thank you for the info on bear canisters. I intend to carry one the whole time, what I'm concerned about is not being able to fit everything in it right after my resupply. I'm planning on buying a 10 1/2 inch Custom Bearikade that will fit in my pack. I'm thinking the food for 100 miles in 10 days might not fit in the can.
                        • longritchie
                          But it is the hang that makes it legal. John, how do you know this? I ve searched in the past for the wilderness food storage rules and could never find
                          Message 12 of 18 , Oct 18, 2013
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                            "But it is the hang that makes it legal."

                            John, how do you know this? I've searched in the past for the wilderness food storage rules and could never find anything definitive about the use of an Ursack where canisters are not required.


                            ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                            On Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 11:28 AM, longritchie <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
                            It isn't alway possible to properly hang food. If you can't fit it all in your canister I would suggest you augment it with an Ursack. I don't know what the current rules are with regard to using them in the areas where canisters are not mandatory. Maybe somebody here knows that

                            I'm a big believer in the Ursack as a backup to a legal counterweight hang for people who decide to leave MTR with more food than fits the can. The Ursack makes it quite unlikely that a bear who defeats a marginal hang will get a food reward (even if he crushes your food and gets slobber all over it).  

                            But it is the hang that makes it legal. The Ursack adds nothing to the legality. But at least it minimizes the chance of getting a bear hooked on human food.

                            BTW, I think hanging is a bad solution. I strongly prefer getting a pack big enough to accommodate a can big enough to contain all the food. For me, that's a 90+ liter pack and the 16 inch custom Bearikade. Saves a lot of worry, permits a greater variety of foods, and it's really not that hard to carry a high-volume pack if you keep the weight within reason (50 lbs for me, but YMMV) and just learn to walk slowly enough so that the pace fits the weight.  

                            But if you do need to keep pack volume low, the counterbalance hang + Ursack is probably the least-bad way to deal with 10 days of food.

                            John Curran Ladd
                            1616 Castro Street
                            San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
                            415-648-9279
                          • John Ladd
                            ... Talking to the backcountry rangers who are empowered to write citations. There are members of the group who have read the underlying regs with care and
                            Message 13 of 18 , Oct 18, 2013
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                              On Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM, longritchie <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                              "But it is the hang that makes it legal."

                              John, how do you know this?


                              Talking to the backcountry rangers who are empowered to write citations. 

                              There are members of the group who have read the underlying regs with care and some think that the actual regs would allow an unhung Ursack. (Some of them may pipe in here.) 

                              I think the argument from the regs might fly with a US Magistrate if you came back to dispute a ticket. But I'd prefer to stay within the interpretation of the regs used by the backcountry rangers. 

                              On the ethical side -- as opposed to the legal side -- I'd still argue that using a as-good-as-possible hang and a Ursack is better than just putting it on the ground. While there is a very reassuring Inyo NF study on the ability of the Ursack to withstand bear attacks, there have also been failures, though perhaps due to user error (bad knot). 

                              The study is found at



                              John Curran Ladd
                              1616 Castro Street
                              San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
                              415-648-9279
                            • longritchie
                              I see. The forest service website isn t clear on the issue and intepretation by various wilderness rangers may or may not be coincident with the regulations.
                              Message 14 of 18 , Oct 18, 2013
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                                I see. The forest service website isn't clear on the issue and intepretation by various wilderness rangers may or may not be coincident with the regulations. That's kind of the feel I got from the last time I looked into this: ambiguity.

                                I would think that any system that isn't bombproof should be close enough so that you can hear if a bear attempts to breach it. The best hangs aren't always that close to camp. Also, once a bear is up in a tree trying to get your food I would suspect it's more difficult to scare them off tha if they're on the ground. If it were me I'd secure the bag at ground level close at hand and be ready to get up to yell and throw rocks if a bear tries to mess with it.

                                But I never see bears so what do I know?



                                ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:


                                On Fri, Oct 18, 2013 at 2:00 PM, longritchie <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:

                                "But it is the hang that makes it legal."

                                John, how do you know this?


                                Talking to the backcountry rangers who are empowered to write citations. 

                                There are members of the group who have read the underlying regs with care and some think that the actual regs would allow an unhung Ursack. (Some of them may pipe in here.) 

                                I think the argument from the regs might fly with a US Magistrate if you came back to dispute a ticket. But I'd prefer to stay within the interpretation of the regs used by the backcountry rangers. 

                                On the ethical side -- as opposed to the legal side -- I'd still argue that using a as-good-as-possible hang and a Ursack is better than just putting it on the ground. While there is a very reassuring Inyo NF study on the ability of the Ursack to withstand bear attacks, there have also been failures, though perhaps due to user error (bad knot). 

                                The study is found at



                                John Curran Ladd
                                1616 Castro Street
                                San Francisco, CA  94114-3707
                                415-648-9279
                              • Chip
                                When I asked about bear canisters I find myself unsure all the food from my MTR food drop into would fit in it. I m planning on getting an 11.5 Custom
                                Message 15 of 18 , Oct 19, 2013
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                                  When I asked about bear canisters I find myself unsure all the food from my MTR food drop into would fit in it. I'm planning on getting an 11.5 Custom Bearicade which would fit in my pack nicely. I carry a Granite Gear Stratus Latitude which both huge and heavy 5.5 lbs. I've carried this pack about 1500 miles on the Appalachian Trail and I love this pack. Right now I have a 8 inch concrete tube in the pack with enough extra room for the canister.

                                  When I was in top shape I easily hiked 15 mile days on the AT but I will not be in top shape when I start the JMT. I plan on hiking 104 miles of The Vermont Long Trail a few weeks before I go west. Hopefully this will help in the preperation. I want to enjoy my time on the JMT and not feel like I must push hard to make miles. My guess is I'll be able to do more than 10 miles some days and shave off a day or two. If I have extra food I'll either eat more or offer it to other hikers who are not making the miles and needs more food.

                                  I understand the PCT method of bear bagging is frowned upon and the counterbalance method is the method of choice. I also see the merits of the Ursack and combining it with a hang would be beneficial. I will choose highly compressible foods to ensure I don't waste space in the can. I'll also carry the 10th day loose in my pack and use it before nightfall. Hopefully everything will fit and this will be a non issue.
                                • kennethjessett@sbcglobal.net
                                  Good luck with your hike. I have to tell you, it is just wonderful up in the high Sierras. There are few places in the world to compare. Ken.
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Oct 19, 2013
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                                    Good luck with your hike. I have to tell you, it is just wonderful up in the high Sierras. There are few places in the world to compare.

                                    Ken.


                                    --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Chip <cencir@...> wrote:
                                    >
                                    > When I asked about bear canisters I find myself unsure all the food from my MTR food drop into would fit in it. I'm planning on getting an 11.5 Custom Bearicade which would fit in my pack nicely. I carry a Granite Gear Stratus Latitude which both huge and heavy 5.5 lbs. I've carried this pack about 1500 miles on the Appalachian Trail and I love this pack. Right now I have a 8 inch concrete tube in the pack with enough extra room for the canister.
                                    >
                                    > When I was in top shape I easily hiked 15 mile days on the AT but I will not be in top shape when I start the JMT. I plan on hiking 104 miles of The Vermont Long Trail a few weeks before I go west. Hopefully this will help in the preperation. I want to enjoy my time on the JMT and not feel like I must push hard to make miles. My guess is I'll be able to do more than 10 miles some days and shave off a day or two. If I have extra food I'll either eat more or offer it to other hikers who are not making the miles and needs more food.
                                    >
                                    > I understand the PCT method of bear bagging is frowned upon and the counterbalance method is the method of choice. I also see the merits of the Ursack and combining it with a hang would be beneficial. I will choose highly compressible foods to ensure I don't waste space in the can. I'll also carry the 10th day loose in my pack and use it before nightfall. Hopefully everything will fit and this will be a non issue.
                                    >
                                  • cehauser1
                                    Chip: I understand your frustration with the inconsistencies with what is posted on the websites of federal agencies. I ran into inconsistencies getting a
                                    Message 17 of 18 , Oct 20, 2013
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                                      Chip:

                                      I understand your frustration with the inconsistencies with what is posted on the websites of federal agencies.  I ran into inconsistencies getting a wilderness permit heading out of Yosemite (website was not consistent with what the ranger said).  Very frustrating.


                                      If I were you I'd think you'd be fine with a big Bearicade.  I fit 7 days of food in a BearVault 450, which is much smaller (actually 6 days, plus the first day's worth of food does not need to fit into the canister).  So, if you need to fit 10 days in the canister (plus the first day outside the canister), it seems like it would fit fine.


                                      And, to echo the comments of the other posters, bear canisters are incredibly convenient, and are totally worth the weight.  I grew up backpacking during the counter-balance days, and we had to stop around 4pm to look for a suitable campsite with a suitable hang tree, then worry all night about the food.  Now days a person can just walk until they want to stop, eat dinner and go to sleep.


                                      Chris.



                                      ---In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, <kenjessett@...> wrote:

                                      Good luck with your hike. I have to tell you, it is just wonderful up in the high Sierras. There are few places in the world to compare.

                                      Ken.


                                      --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, Chip <cencir@...> wrote:
                                      >
                                      > When I asked about bear canisters I find myself unsure all the food from my MTR food drop into would fit in it. I'm planning on getting an 11.5 Custom Bearicade which would fit in my pack nicely. I carry a Granite Gear Stratus Latitude which both huge and heavy 5.5 lbs. I've carried this pack about 1500 miles on the Appalachian Trail and I love this pack. Right now I have a 8 inch concrete tube in the pack with enough extra room for the canister.
                                      >
                                      > When I was in top shape I easily hiked 15 mile days on the AT but I will not be in top shape when I start the JMT. I plan on hiking 104 miles of The Vermont Long Trail a few weeks before I go west. Hopefully this will help in the preperation. I want to enjoy my time on the JMT and not feel like I must push hard to make miles. My guess is I'll be able to do more than 10 miles some days and shave off a day or two. If I have extra food I'll either eat more or offer it to other hikers who are not making the miles and needs more food.
                                      >
                                      > I understand the PCT method of bear bagging is frowned upon and the counterbalance method is the method of choice. I also see the merits of the Ursack and combining it with a hang would be beneficial. I will choose highly compressible foods to ensure I don't waste space in the can. I'll also carry the 10th day loose in my pack and use it before nightfall. Hopefully everything will fit and this will be a non issue.
                                      >
                                    • bertcourson
                                      Five years ago a group of us started our JMT adventure south from TM. On the first night we all put our smells in canisters, or so so I thought. One person had
                                      Message 18 of 18 , Oct 22, 2013
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                                        Five years ago a group of us started our JMT adventure south from TM. On the first night we all put our smells in canisters, or so so I thought. One person had too much stuff and placed some food in Ursack, tied to tree. The Bear somehow slit the seam of the bag and got the food. She ignored the canisters. Lesson: Use a canister.


                                        While there is a very reassuring Inyo NF study on the
                                        > ability of the Ursack to withstand bear attacks, there have also been
                                        > failures, though perhaps due to user error (bad knot).

                                        >
                                        > John Curran Ladd
                                        > 1616 Castro Street
                                        > San Francisco, CA 94114-3707
                                        > 415-648-9279
                                        >
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