Jul 8, 2010 at 10:36 am #1260948
Is it possible to hike the JMT with an Ursack instead of a hardsided bear canister? I vaguely recall certain areas requiring hardsided canisters but most of the rest is OK. Is there a way to avoid carrying a canister by juggling one's route or timing or food quantity, etc.?Jul 8, 2010 at 10:48 am #1627254
@markrLocale: Santa Cruz
I just checked with Sierra NF. They are OK with it but not acceptable in Yosemite or Kings Canyon.Jul 8, 2010 at 10:59 am #1627257
"I just checked with Sierra NF. They are OK with it but not acceptable in Yosemite or Kings Canyon."
Not exactly. You can legally hike the JMT if you:
1) can do some high milage days.
2) Use bear boxes at Reds Meadow, Toulemne Meadows, Rae Lakes.
You would have to be able to hike from Yosemite Valley to TM in a day, then hike from TM to Reds Meadow also in a day to stay legal. The other restricted areas are more straight-forward to hike through legally.
Here is a map that shows the areas where canisters are required. I don't believe it has been changed since 2008.Jul 8, 2010 at 11:19 am #1627264
@Greg: I think your answer is correct in principle, but not necessarily practical. I've heard stories of rangers in YV requiring people to show them their bear canisters before they'll hand them their wilderness permits. The other issue is that you'd have no margin for error at all on those first two days. If *anything* went wrong and prevented you from doing that massive mileage for two days in a row, you'd no longer be legal.
The other thing I dislike about the idea is that it forces you to spend a lot of time camping in highly impacted areas — the kind where there are bear boxes. Personally, I'd prefer more solitude, and I'd prefer not to add my own impact to an area that's already seen a heavy human footprint.Jul 8, 2010 at 11:27 am #1627268
I don't mind using Ursacks and bear boxes (lockers) where available. Re. "high mileage days" — pray tell, what are the miles from Yosemite Valley to TM… and from TM to Reds Meadow?
Finally, without approved bear canisters, is it possible to detour from the JMT and do the day hike summit to Mt. Whitney?Jul 8, 2010 at 11:35 am #1627274
@junctionLocale: Atlanta, GA
Happy Isles to TM is 25.3 miles. TM to RM is 35.4 miles.Jul 8, 2010 at 11:37 am #1627275
OK for the first one, and yuck for the second. Dang canister rules! Sigh…Jul 8, 2010 at 11:49 am #1627278
Enter via Cottonwood Pass. Day hike Whitney from Crabtree Meadows. Hike north on JMT. Have a canister mailed to Reds and use for last three? days. This is very likely what I will do on my PCT thruhike next year.
@Benjamin, agree that the plan on high mileage days may not be practical for most. However, it dispells the myth that canisters are required in both SEKI and YNP.
@Ben, If hiking southbound I would rather hike TM to reds in a day then the Valley to TM. It may be longer but mile for mile it is easier.Jul 8, 2010 at 11:54 am #1627279
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
For a dayhike up Whitney from the JMT, I do not think any one will see whether you have a cannister or not since most day hikers dump their packs beside the trail.
Approved cannisters are required for all hikers camping in or passing through the Whitney Zone and in my experience the rangers check both people at camps and hikers on the trail with the most scrutiny occuring on the trail between Whitney Portal and Trail Camp.Jul 8, 2010 at 12:18 pm #1627287
It would be interesting to hear what happens when JMT ultrarunners show up to pick up their wilderness permits. Presumably they don't bring hard-sided canisters.
-BenJul 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm #1627288
@scottbentzLocale: Southern California
I've been checked on two different trips. Once by a Ranger at Rock Creek. Last year by a Ranger at Crabtree.
When I got my permit last year they only asked if I was using an approved canister. When I told them it was a Bearicade they didn't ask to see it, which would have been hard, since it was back at the backpackers camp.
ScottJul 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm #1627291
"For a dayhike up Whitney from the JMT, I do not think any one will see whether you have a cannister or not since most day hikers dump their packs beside the trail."
Lots of backpackers will dump their packs at the junction 1.9 miles down from the Whitney summit. They hit the summit and return to their packs, and then continue the backpack route. Interestingly, the local marmots have learned this, so they work as a team. They run around the backpacks enough to sniff out where the unprotected food is, and then they chew through the pack. This makes a marmot-size hole in the pack and allows them access to the pic-a-nic basket. The marmot team takes turns feeding there until they are full or until the owner returns and finds his $200 backpack half-ruined.
Approved canisters are not required for day hikers who are not camping within the Whitney Zone. They are required for backpackers carrying "overnight food."
Been there. Done that. Read the book. Saw the movie.
Besides, lots of ultrarunners and fastpackers don't really camp. I've seen some who curl up in a ball for a few hours of sleep, and then continue.
–B.G.–Jul 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm #1627311
@sschloss1Locale: New England
I'm going to repeat my obnoxious comment about canisters and selfish hikers from an earlier forum. If the 2 pounds for a bear canister is too much for you to handle, you're probably not in good enough shape to be considering a JMT or PCT hike anyway. Follow the rules (which require canisters in the national parks) or stay home.
"The Park Service isn't relocating problem bears any more–they just shoot them. So, if you don't store your food carefully, and you create a bear problem, you're giving that bear a death sentence.
The attitude of some hikers towards this issue is arrogant, selfish, and callous. Just carry the canister. The extra 2 pounds won't kill anyone, especially not a UL hiker who's carrying a light kit to start with."Jul 8, 2010 at 2:27 pm #1627316
I completely agree with you — which is why I am taking the time asking questions upfront. My Ursack is pretty darn bear proof (though not squash proof) — and if there're legitimate ways to avoid a canister by quickening/lengthening one's pace through restricted areas or timing one's food consumption and procurement along the way, then I am interested in knowing.Jul 8, 2010 at 2:40 pm #1627322
Let me see if I can summarize.
Although it might be technically possible to do the JMT without a hard bear canister, it is likely to be impractical or more difficult or more expensive. For years, people have done this with a series of "support interceptions" that involve the canisters, even though the JMT traveler had none.
In a few places, it is NPS that sets the rules and interprets the laws, and it is not the right of the traveler to set his own rules or reinterpret the laws to suit himself. NPS does not require canisters in order to support the canister manufacturing industry. NPS requires canisters in a few places specifically to protect wildlife, mostly black bears, from addiction to human-carried food.
–B.G.–Jul 8, 2010 at 2:47 pm #1627327
@rezniemLocale: San Francisco
I met a PCT thru-hiker (this was his third thru-hike of the PCT) who never uses a cannister. He's also never had a bear problem. He sleeps in out of the way, undeveloped, hidden sites, pees around his sleeping area, and sleeps with the food inside his tarptent.
I personally wouldn't want to risk a hungry bear coming for my food in my tent at night, but it seems to be working for him.Jul 8, 2010 at 3:01 pm #1627329
I led a group trip in Yosemite. On a layover day, we were off hiking and one guy stayed back in camp. For afternoon siesta, he was inside his tent with the rain fly off, so all that separated him from the outside was the thin mosquito netting. He woke up with the feeling that he was not alone, so he peered up at the netting in the door. A black bear was pressing his snout against the netting to try to sniff whatever was inside the tent. The guy instinctively made a fist and bonked the bear's nose as hard as he could. The bear took off. I'm not so sure that I would want to tangle with a bear that closely.
–B.G.–Jul 8, 2010 at 3:16 pm #1627336
That PCT thru-hiker you wrote about sounds like a "know it all and park rangers are all idiots and anyway that can never happen to me" type of a guy! And methinks sleeping with food inside his tarptent in bear country makes him a top candidate for the next round of gene pool filtering.Jul 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm #1627340
Well if the guy hiked with me, he'd never see bears…….Jul 8, 2010 at 5:18 pm #1627369
@rezniemLocale: San Francisco
He was actually a really nice guy who just couldn't fit a bear cannister in his trusty ole Jardine pack.
I'm very paranoid about bears and actually much prefer the cannister to hanging in trees, which turns out to be a giant pain in the rear, especially if it's raining, cold, getting dark, or you're running behind schedule.Jul 8, 2010 at 5:20 pm #1627371
Scott S wrote: "Follow the rules (which require canisters in the national parks) or stay home."
The rules don't require canisters in all areas of all national parks.
And this thread is entirely *about* understanding the rules. Nobody has proposed breaking the rules.Jul 8, 2010 at 5:33 pm #1627378
Trust me Nate, nothing worse than when you are tired and want to get you camp stuff done, then have to do a counter balance….NOT fun! I own a Bear Boxer and can stuff 3 days of food in the baby and have my first days food in my packJul 8, 2010 at 6:14 pm #1627398
I agree. In my case, I can do exactly the same with my Ursack and save significant weight and pack space. Which was what prompted this thread. I wanted to know if one can legally avoid canisters by juggling with logistics. I believe I have my answer now. I am unwilling to hike 35 miles in one day just to avoid carrying a canister.Jul 8, 2010 at 6:21 pm #1627401
I hiked the northern half of the JMT last year. What I found is that there are bear boxes at sunrise camp which is at 13.7 miles from Yosemite valley. This is an amazing campsite and while I was there I watched a pair of black bears in the valley just below my campsite.
As for getting to Reds meadows from Tuolumne Meadows it is possible to get off the trail before Reds meadow. When I was hiking, a majority of the other backpacks that were in the backcountry had taken a short-cut that went to thousand islands lake. This would still be something like 25 miles instead of 35. This detour would add something like 10 mile to your trip but in analysis ten miles is much better than two extra pounds.
Check these options out.Jul 8, 2010 at 6:29 pm #1627406
Keep in mind Ben, I have been using an Ursack since they were first made. I have NEVER had a problem with mine…ever.
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