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Re: [John Muir Trail] Bears

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  • herbstroh@charter.net
    John-- You raise a good point re: effectiveness of hand sanitizers and whether they can substitue for hand washing. Here is an article I found in the New York
    Message 1 of 75 , Jun 2, 2009

      You raise a good point re: effectiveness of hand sanitizers and whether
      they can substitue for hand washing.

      Here is an article I found in the New York Times on the topic:


      The most important paragraphs for our discussion are:

      "Since 2002, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
      have recommended that health care workers routinely use high quality
      alcohol-based gels instead of soap and water on their hands when moving
      from patient to patient — as long the worker's hands aren't visibly soiled.
      Alcohol doesn't cut through grime well, so dirt, blood, feces or other body
      fluids or soil must be wiped or washed away first, if the alcohol in the
      sanitizer is to be effective. In such cases, hand washing with soap and
      water is advised."

      So, sanitizers would work (so long as they are 60% alcohol) unless you are
      too dirty or get the icky stuff on your hands, in which case its soap and
      water. Plus, sanitizer.

      From: John Ladd johnladd@...
      Date: Tue, 2 Jun 2009 13:46:53 -0700
      To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [John Muir Trail] Bears

      I disagree with Herb about the soap. Hand sanitizers are nowhere near as
      effective as soap at getting rid of the ickies that can cause GI problems
      for your entire group. And hand contamination is reportedly much more
      likely to cause sickness than are water quality issues like Giardia. I just
      wash my hands with an hopefully biodegradable soap as far away from a water
      source as possible - I just use water from my water bottle to wet my hands
      and then to rinse.

      Hand sanitizers *might* be a backup to soap for the times when you are too
      tired to do a good hand wash. I carry a little. But I'd never rely on it
      after making a deposit in the woods. I try to wash right away with soap and
      water. If I can't (e.g., I've already emptied my water bottle) I would
      definitely wash before handling any food or messing with a water pump.

      I'm hoping someone on the group is enough of a microbiologist to comment
      intelligently, since I suspect I am more dubious about hand sanitizers than
      most campers.

      But is we can't find an expert, this seems to be good info on this:

      See generally
      links provided there.

      From a Purdue researcher: "[R]esearch shows that [sanitizers] do not
      significantly reduce the overall amount of bacteria on the hands, and in
      some cases they may even increase it."

      From a FDA research summary: "The instant hand sanitizers resulted in a
      significant *increase* in bacterial numbers on hands."

      Not everyone is so negative on hand sanitizers. But the most optimistic
      opinion I've read (on an admittedly not-thorough search) is this:

      "According to research performed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
      Prevention, hand sanitizer is considered as effective at killing germs as
      washing your hands with soap and water, *unless hands are visibly soiled*."

      I find that my hands usually are "visibly soiled" on the trail, so even the
      optimistic view is not encouraging.


      I find a 1-oz bottle of the standard liquid campers soap ("Campsuds" - the
      green stuff) lasts me a week on the trail. And I use it on cooking utensils
      and clothes as well as on hands. My theory is sue sparingly but often.


      On Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 11:26 AM, herbstroh@... <
      herbstroh@...> wrote:

      > In areas that require a canister, the bags are not legal. Also, some of
      > experienced hoodlum bears are able to get into them after much effort.
      > Unfortunately, you have to get the trash back into the canister.
      > As far as what to do with the canister at night, no you do not need to
      > it. Take it at least 50-100 feet out of camp, and put it between logs or
      > somewhere that prevents Mr. B from rolling it off in a futile effort to
      > inside. Hikers have reported having to hunt down a can that had been
      > about and rolled down a hill.
      > Having said that, the experienced bears have learned they can't get in a
      > can, and will just walk by looking for easier pickings.
      > Some people take bear spray, but the incidents of attack of a human by
      > black bear are almost non-existent. I don't think its worth the weight.
      > They only come around for your food, and if its handled correctly they
      > should leave you alone.
      > On soap, I don't take any. The easiest way to avoid getting soap in
      > water is not to have any soap. I do take a hand sanitizer for hygene. Camp
      > dishes get a "mountain wash" and we call it good.
      > Herb
      > Original Message:
      > -----------------
      > From: tiffrowe00 no_reply@yahoogroups.com <no_reply%40yahoogroups.com>
      > Date: Tue, 02 Jun 2009 17:08:01 -0000
      > To: johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com <johnmuirtrail%40yahoogroups.com>
      > Subject: [John Muir Trail] Bears
      > Hi All,
      > I don't have much experience with bear canisters and all practices to keep
      > the bears away. Any tips would be appreciated.
      > Are bear bags good to have? I was thinking of keeping trash in a bear bag.
      > Does anyone recommend a good environment-friendly soap? I assume that
      > scented soap is a no no.
      > At night do we need to keep our bear canisters away from our site or up in
      > a tree as well?
      > Should we bring bear mace spray?
      > Some friends who did JMT a couple years back never saw any bears. They
      > also carried baking soda for all their cleaning, seems like to much extra
      > weight to me.
      > Thanks!!
      > ----------------------------------------------------------
      > mail2web - Check your email from the web at
      > http://link.mail2web.com/mail2web

      John Curran Ladd
      1616 Castro Street
      San Francisco, CA 94114-3707
      415-648-9279 (voice and fax)

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    • bill cathey
      I don t know how high the density of bears is in SNP, but, living in the area myself and having hiked there many times, I was disappointed for several years at
      Message 75 of 75 , Jul 25, 2014
        I don't know how high the density of bears is in SNP, but, living in the area myself and having hiked there many times, I was disappointed for several years at not having encountered any there. I finally had my first sighting last year, followed by another one 5 minutes later, then a mother and cub shortly after that. So, I saw 4 bears just in the one hike, all within about 20 minutes. That was really exciting.


        On Jul 25, 2014, at 5:28 PM, "ravi@... [johnmuirtrail]" <johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com> wrote:


        Shenandoah National Park, where the black bear density is very high, also permits the use of spray although I cannot imagine why anyone would feel the need to use it.  All of the bears that I've seen are more timid than deer.  After hiking the JMT without a bear sighting, I had a bear encounter at Shenandoah at few weeks later and another one in April.  Both times the bears ran as soon as they detected my presence. 

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