Nov 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm #1296613
I have a 2 week trip in SEKI planned for next year and not exactly sure the best strategy for food storage. My preference would be to carry all of our food from the beginning, but the problem is I can't fit 15 days of food into my bear canister and would strongly prefer not to carry 2 canisters. So my questions are:
– Is it reasonable to rely on the bear boxes in the beginning of the trip? Or is there a significant chance I can arrive at one and it's either no longer there or full? I found this map, which was updated as of 2009: http://sierrawild.gov/bears/food-storage-map
– We will likely be in the Mineral King area on day 4 or 5, so I could potentially stash food there. Does anyone know if there is a reliable place to store food there for a few days?
– I also have an Ursack I could use for overflow, but I'm assuming this is frowned upon….and against the rules.
– Other options?Dec 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm #1935277
I posted some questions a few weeks ago and ended up finding most of my answers from some trip reports. The main thing I'm still not sure about is food storage, so I updated my original post and am bumping this thread. Any suggestions?Dec 13, 2012 at 2:03 pm #1935282
As far as I know the map you are using is still current. There are plenty of bear boxes all over that area. Since it is not a mandatory canister area I likely wouldn't take a canister at all. I would use the boxes if convenient and use an ursack or hang if they were full. Also, what you will find is that idiots often fill the bear boxes up with canisters.Dec 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm #1935283
This is a reasonably updated guide to the bear boxes of the Sierra Nevada. I think the last update was July 2012, if that means anything.
One warning is not to cache food in a bear box and expect to reclaim it a week later. The park rangers will have found it by then and will have confiscated it.
–B.G.–Dec 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm #1935284
Thank Greg. For some reason I had just assumed that the canisters were required in all of SEKI, but according to that map that does not appear to be the case. That makes it much easier.
Edit: And thanks for that link Bob. That's what I was afraid of with the food cache strategy.Dec 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm #1935285
"Also, what you will find is that idiots often fill the bear boxes up with canisters."
Greg, that is because they haven't figured out a way to fill up the canisters with bear boxes.
–B.G.–Dec 13, 2012 at 4:06 pm #1935304
"Is it reasonable to rely on the bear boxes in the beginning of the trip? Or is there a significant chance I can arrive at one and it's either no longer there or full? I found this map, which was updated as of 2009: http://sierrawild.gov/bears/food-storage-map"
It's hard to comment without knowing your planned route. However, if you are planning on dropping down into Kern Canyon from Mineral King, there are food storage lockers at Upper Funston Meadow, Kern Hot Springs, and Junction Meadow. If you continue up Kern Canyon to the Upper Kern Plateau, you won't really need a canister, as the bears are few and unaccustomed to human food-a PCT hang will suffice there. If you go up Wallace Creek via the HST to the JMT, there is a storage locker at the junction of the 2 trails. If you go south from there, there is a food locker at Crabtree Meadow where Whitney Creek crosses the PCT. If going north, there are lockers at Wright Creek and Tyndall Creek, as well as at the junction of the JMT and the Center Basin trail, and Vidette Meadows. I hope this helps.Dec 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm #1935308
There is quite a bit of country in the northernmost part of Sequoia that is above timberline, so you sure can't expect to hang food there. I was thinking of Lake South America and the southern approach to Forester Pass. Even if there are few bears there, the marmots are plentiful. They can make a mess of a food bag given some time.
–B.G.–Dec 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm #1935318
"There is quite a bit of country in the northernmost part of Sequoia that is above timberline, so you sure can't expect to hang food there. I was thinking of Lake South America and the southern approach to Forester Pass."
I've never bothered. The very few bears in the Upper Kern Basin are down lower, at and below timberline. At least IME.
"Even if there are few bears there, the marmots are plentiful."
Yup, but only a problem if you leave your food unattended. I just double up on my Litetrail Nylobarrier OP bags and sleep with the food in my tent. This assumes careful handling of your food, of course. If you get your hands all smelly and them transfer the smells to your OP bag(s), all bets are off. That is why I use two bags;
the inner bag is bound to pick up some smells when rebagging food, but I wash my hands off before I close up the outer bag to avoid that problem. So far, so good. And god help the marmot that sticks his snout into my tent at night. ;0)Dec 13, 2012 at 4:57 pm #1935321
"And god help the marmot that sticks his snout into my tent at night."
I would suggest a light mustard sauce to add to the meat protein.
–B.G.–Dec 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm #1935322
"I would suggest a light mustard sauce to add to the meat protein."
You're a man of discriminating taste, Bob.
Good to have you back. ;)Dec 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm #1935324
"Good to have you back."
That is what I hear when I walk back into the lion's den.
–B.G.–Dec 14, 2012 at 3:37 pm #1935488
Thanks, Tom. I guess I'm mostly wondering if it's reasonable to assume that there will be space for my food in the lockers when I get to them or if they generally tend to fill up by a certain time of day. But if the link to the map I provided or the subsequent link that Bob mentioned is not accurate, that would be good to know as well.
At this point, the planned route is going to be something like this, which will likely change at least a little bit between now and August: MAP
Edit: And in case it's not clear, the starting point is Wolverton and ending is Crescent Meadow.
Although we probably won't drop into Mineral King if we're not stashing food there. Instead we'd probably head up Lost Canyon from Big Arroyo to reconnect with the route I mapped out at Big & Little Five Lakes. That should give us an extra day or two to check out some other area along the way. Any suggestions? And as the trip gets closer and we finalize our intended route I'm sure I'll have some questions for you and others on some of the details of the off trail sections.Dec 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm #1935496
"At this point, the planned route is going to be something like this, which will likely change at least a little bit between now and August: MAP
Edit: And in case it's not clear, the starting point is Wolverton and ending is Crescent Meadow."
Hillmap.com doesn't work with my antiquated version of Internet Explorer. If you think my input might be useful at some point, give me a description of your intended route and possible variations, and I'll do my best. I'm sorry. And a little bit embarrassed.
Edited: +1 to Greg's comments above about using an Ursack or PCT hang. Just make sure you are familiar with how to properly tie off an Ursack if you decide to use one. Almost all failures are attributable to user error.
TomDec 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm #1935497
I think that the Climber.Org maps and descriptions are accurate. There are relatively few bear boxes that are ever removed. One, for example, was crushed by a fallen tree, so it was removed. Those removals are well-known and documented. In a few cases, the bear boxes have been moved slightly, and again I think those have been documented. Some of us feed those new locations to the webmaster at Climber.Org once in a while, but the changes are very few and far between. If there were one or two critical bear boxes, then a telephone call to the nearest ranger station with your inquiry ought to work.
The most dependable method would be to plan on using a single bear canister as much as is possible, and then plan on using the bear boxes additionally for extra space if necessary. If you plan it right, you should be able to do it without much food exposed.
When you are picking up your wilderness permit, the rangers will always ask you if you have a bear canister. Nobody ever asks you if the one you are carrying will be sufficient.
–B.G.–Dec 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm #1935499
"That is what I hear when I walk back into the lion's den."
;0]Dec 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm #1935501
Chris and Tom, I snipped some of Chris's map for Tom's benefit:
It's a pretty intricate route.
–B.G.–Dec 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm #1935504
"Chris and Tom, I snipped some of Chris's map for Tom's benefit:"
Thanks a lot, Bob.
Now that is one grand tour of the Kern/GW Divide. I'll be following this one with interest as the planning unfolds. I'm not totally clear on a couple small sections due to the map scale, but for most of that route, there are either bear boxes or Chris will be travelling in areas where bears are not much of a concern, i.e. a PCT hang, Ursack, or no extra measures at all will suffice. I can't speak for the areas west of the GW Divide, though, as I have no experience there.Dec 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm #1935510
"I can't speak for the areas west of the GW Divide, though, as I have no experience there."
Tom, you have to get out more.
Last August I did a five day trip where I criss-crossed the Great Western Divide. When you get high enough, there are no trees and no bears. But, just as soon as you dip down into the trees, there are the bears.
–B.G.–Dec 29, 2012 at 8:47 pm #1939221
For longer trips I've dayhiked a cannister resupply and stashed it a few hundred yards off the trail. This isn't "legal" but it has worked for me.
Last summer my buddy and I planned a figure 8 shaped route, and I started out with 2 cannister leaving the cache near the cross over point late afternoon on day 1 of our hike.
My pack lets the cannister lie sideways inside, so i when I pick up the resupply i just fill the empty cannister with my clothes and some other gear and think little of it.
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