Dec 23, 2013 at 10:53 am #1311344
Tom ClarkBPL Member
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
I'm doing the John Muir Trail this coming summer, and have started to think more about how my BearVault 200 will fit into my GG Gorilla…not looking good.
I've gotten fairly lightweight on most items (cuben tarp, Neoair xlite pad, quilt, Sawyer Mini filter, Caldera Cone, etc.), but that canister takes up way too much space and only fits vertically. I'd rather not buy a new canister, and hope to get ~7 days of food into my BearVault 200.
– What backpack do people suggest for that ~100 miles from Muir Trail Ranch to Whitney? I hope to be doing ~15 mi/day by that point, so I need 7 days of food.
– Has anyone had good success with the Gorilla pack in that situation, and what strategy did you use to make it work (e.g., tie canister to top)?
– Correct me if I'm wrong, but I assume that I will pretty much need a canister for the whole trip, even though there are some small section that don't require a canister.
– Any other general suggestions you could share?
TomDec 23, 2013 at 11:37 am #2057103
Charles GrierBPL Member
@rinconLocale: Desert Southwest
For the first few days out of MTR, no bear can is required although hanging (or an Ursack) is.. What I have done is to add an Ursack to my MTR resupply package and to put the overflow there. The Ursack only weighs about 8 oz and takes up little space when empty. I used a BV 450 on the trail last year and was able to get 7 days of (compressed) food in that and carried the other 3 days food in the Ursack. I use a Kalais pack which is about the same size as the Gorilla. There was room for a partially filled Ursack on top of the pack. Hanging the overflow is another possibility although I would rather take the 8 oz Ursack and spare myself the PITA of hanging food. There is a map of where canisters are required on the Interagency Bear site but IIRC, you can go about as far as Woods Creek Crossing before you need a canister. And, there is (or was) a bear locker at the south end of the suspension bridge there and another at the Rae Lakes.
Edit: the map is at sierrawild.gov. It is a PDF file and is a download. They say it was last updated in 2009 but I checked and learned that it I was still the same through 2013.Dec 23, 2013 at 12:54 pm #2057125
If you check the forest service website, you will find things you might not expect:
Such as in the Inyo National Forest:
"In all wilderness areas shown, food must be stored in bear resistant containers, or counter balanced at least 15' above the ground, and 10' from tree trunk."
So no, a bear cannister is not required everywhere.
However, the only acceptable alternative in some areas is counterbalanced 15' above ground.
Which is hard to do without trees, and hard to do with trees, unless you have two foodbags that weigh close to the same.
That is why most just get a larger bear can, or rent a bearikade.
Its simpler, and less confusing, no worries about where to camp, etc either.
If you are SURE of the acceptable alternative approved by the forest service in each area, there is no problem. Most dont really want to research all of it and keep track. Just because theres no bear can required, doesnt mean there are no other food storage requirements everywhere.
However, all a ranger ever asks is "Do you have a bear can". They never ask to show that all your stuff is in it.
Most plan on 100 in3 per day of food (about 1.75" in bearcan), so 7 days = 700 in3.
The fewest Ive really heard of is someone saying they got theirs to 85in3 per day (about 1.4" in bearcan), which would be 595 in3.
Edit.- BV200 is 685? so would probably work.Dec 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm #2057145
"So no, a bear cannister is not required everywhere."
M B, the original poster was asking about the John Muir Trail. The map above only shows the wilderness areas outside of the national parks to the east.
–B.G.–Dec 23, 2013 at 3:31 pm #2057149
You can look at the regs for Sequoia and Kings canyon as well, it states:
The Three Food Storage Options:
Portable animal-resistant food storage containers
Food Storage Boxes
In areas where food storage containers are not required you may use a food storage box if available.
Counter-balance method: Many people think they can protect their food by hanging it this way. However, because bears are so adaptable, they have figured ways to obtain counter-balanced food. This method generally does not work in these parks. Only use this option if the others are not available.
Same thing. They expect you to protect food somehow, even in non-bear can required areas. And the only thing they say is OK, is counter-balance method. Not PCT or any other.
One question would be if a non-approved container like the Ursack is considered a animal-resistand container in their eyes. My guess is maybe, depending on the Ranger.
Most people think they want the counterbalance method, because it is such a pain that people will just carry a bear can instead.Dec 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm #2057151
"M B, the original poster was asking about the John Muir Trail. The map above only shows the wilderness areas outside of the national parks to the east. "
Edit: I didn't realize that JM Wilderness is split across two National Forests. So, Bob is correct, and the map doesn't cover the JMT.Dec 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm #2057152
"One question would be if a non-approved container like the Ursack is considered a animal-resistand container in their eyes. My guess is maybe, depending on the Ranger."
A couple of years ago the answer was "Yes, Ursack is OK".
Be aware that "Orders" are issued every year, and until April rolls around you won't know for sure what the regulations will be.
If you go this route I'd be sure to take documentation and phone numbers.Dec 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm #2057156
I would say if you go thru the trouble to haul an ursack and a bear can, why not just take a larger bear can? The ursack is about what 8oz? Might as well get a BV500 and make life simple IF you can fit it in the pack.
Unless you already have both, then it might make sense.
Another interesting thing to think about, is while you do read about some people getting and using custom bearikades from Wild Ideas, ONLY the weekender and Expedition are actually approved.Dec 23, 2013 at 3:56 pm #2057165
"I'm pretty sure the JMT goes through the John Muir Wilderness, shown on the map, and south and east of that point is SEKI."
I disagree. The JMT goes through both the parks and the wilderness. South and west of that point is SEKI, not south and east.
It doesn't do much good to have your anti-bear plans good for parts of the trail and not other parts of the trail.
–B.G.–Dec 23, 2013 at 4:09 pm #2057169
Half of the John Muir Wilderness is in the Inyo National Forest, and is subject to Inyos requirements. But it really doesnt matter, its virtually the same everywhere.
You are still required to properly store food, even in non-bearcan required areas.
The simplicity of the big bear can, is it meets everyones requirements everwhere.Dec 23, 2013 at 4:23 pm #2057171
Jeff JeffBPL Member
I'm not sure about the BearVault 200, but I used a BearVault500. I carried 9 days of food from Whitney Portal to VVR, but I think I ate it in 7 days. Anyways, I carried it in a ULA Catalyst. It fit horizontally on the top. I could cram it horizontally on the bottom too and while it carried better that way, it was a pain to dig it out at breaks.
The BV500 was barely large enough. I had to stash food at bear boxes my first two nights (Bullfrog pond and Rae Lakes, I think). I hear the bear boxes are longer around, but I'm not sure about that. I was there is 2007 so a lot may have changed.Dec 23, 2013 at 4:27 pm #2057173
As I just learned from Bob (indirectly) –
Inyo National Forest is east of the [what?] divide. The Muir Trail, on the west side of the divide goes through Sierra National Forest.
For food storage all they say is –
"BACKCOUNTRY AND WILDERNESS USERS
Backcountry and wilderness users are required to store food or refuse in a manner designed to keep bears from gaining access to it. Visitors are encouraged to use bear-resistant food canisters to safeguard food. If a bear canister is not available, the counter-balance method of storing food is also an acceptable method."
Very similar to Inyo. But if you want to be sure, you have to find the Order.Dec 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm #2057174
"I had to stash food at bear boxes my first two nights (Bullfrog pond and Rae Lakes, I think). I hear the bear boxes are longer around, but I'm not sure about that. I was there is 2007 so a lot may have changed."
If you are camping in the Rae Lakes area are you are required by SEKI to have a canister. (For the JMT, everywhere between Forester Pass and Pinchot Pass)Dec 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm #2057175
"Inyo National Forest is east of the continental divide."
This is completely false.
–B.G.–Dec 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm #2057177
Yea, I was thinking Pacific Crest, but that's not right either.
What is that demark?Dec 23, 2013 at 4:44 pm #2057178
The Pacific Crest is fairly accurate. The Pacific Crest Trail is pretty close to the actual mountain crest along the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. The John Muir Trail follows the PCT for a good chunk of that, although it is not exactly the same in several places, and the JMT has one end in Yosemite Valley, which the PCT does not.
I have to believe that a BearVault 200 is a pretty old model, maybe ten years old. Model 300 is the oldest one that I have run into, except for the old Garcias, of course.
–B.G.–Dec 23, 2013 at 4:46 pm #2057179
The answer is still(as I understand it) :
1. Approved bear cannister in bear can areas or Food storage box
2. Possibly un-approved bear cannister or Ursack in non-bear can areas, depending on interpretation of managing agency, and you need to confirm with all in question
3. Counter balance is required in basically ALL non non-bear can areas if dont have an approved (or unnaproved) bear can, (which requires being below treeline obviously), and is undesireable
No where is sleeping with an extra couple days food permitted, or hanging by any other method than counterbalance. (which is basically the way Ive always understood it)Dec 23, 2013 at 4:46 pm #2057180
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
To get back to Tom's question about packs…
Tom are you happy with your Gorilla for other trips or do you want to replace it? That might affect how much you spend and which packs you choose. Here are some ideas.
-Exped Lighting 45 or 60 liter pack. Great pack, could handle a bear canister well. Main issue is its got a tall frame stay (24 inches). Might not be a bit deal on the JMT but I'm not sure this would replace your Gorilla for weekend trips back east, just kinda big. On the plus side its a cheaper pack so you might just buy one and keep your Gorilla.
-HMG Packs should work. A Porter 3400 could definitely carry a bear canister and I'm pretty sure the 2400 could work as well. These packs are more expensive but similar in weight to the Gorilla. They also compress down to a smaller size very nicely. I could see replacing your Gorilla with a Porter for both this trip and future east coast trips.
-Zimmerbuilt Pack. Chris is great to work with. He's made a number of 2 pound packs with U shaped frames that can carry a bear canister.Dec 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm #2057197
NMDec 23, 2013 at 6:32 pm #2057205
If you like the Gorilla, keep it. At 45 liter and 28 ounces, it's a great match for your current gear.
However for a JMT hike with a large bear can and a full week of food you will need a larger and heavier pack. I have been using either an REI Flash 60 or an older Granite Gear Ozone for many years of backpacking in the Sierra. They both are 60 liters and weigh about 3 pounds. There are several other options in the same range. These will carry the weight and the volume comfortably.
I pack the sleeping gear and clothes in a garbage bag at the bottom of the pack, the bear can vertically on top of that with tent body on tent fly tucked in to fill the space on each side of the can, and rain gear, first and aid and misc on top. That way your heavy bear can is centered on your back, what needs to be accessed quickly can be, and the bear can isn't to hard to get into at lunch breaks.
Have fun on the JMT. Great trail, you'll love it!
PS. I think the Bearvault 200 is the same size as the current Bearvault 500.Dec 23, 2013 at 6:38 pm #2057207
Tom ClarkBPL Member
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
Thanks for the feedback so far. I will continue to check through April for the latest regulations. I'm OK with buying a new pack if needed. I do plan to use a canister for the JMT due to the hassle of regulations and logistics of caching food along the way (hate to think that my food might not still be in the designated storage areas once I arrive to that campsite).
Any further suggestions about packs that have worked for you and thoughts about food storage space on the lower portion of the JMT are still appreciated. I assume that there are lots of members here that have done the JMT or PCT lately and have thoughts about this.
TomDec 23, 2013 at 7:00 pm #2057214
Tom KirchnerBPL Member
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
"and thoughts about food storage space on the lower portion of the JMT are still appreciated."
Here's the National Parks Service list, Tom.
When I talked to the a Park Service official 2 years ago, she said there are no food storage boxes north of Rae Lakes. From there down to Whitney, they are strung out well within a day's hike from each other. However, if you go during high season, the hordes may already have filled them up if you pull into camp late in the afternoon. Also, from an aesthetic point of view, the camping areas in proximity to the food storage boxes can be pretty depressing. If you are carrying a canister, you will have much more flexibility in choosing a campsite. If you can't get all the food you require from MTR to Whitney in your canister, there are plenty of places you can camp without worrying too much about bears for the 2-3 days it will take you to get from MTR into the section where bears are a real problem, basically from the Rae Lakes area south to Whitney. You should be able to get enough food into your canister to take care of you for that section. It's good to see you finally getting out this way. I hope you have a great trip.Dec 23, 2013 at 7:08 pm #2057216
If the BV200 is ~700 in3 it should work for you. I was thinking it was smaller, like 450 or so for some reason. Dont know why.
Your first days food out of Muir Ranch obviously doesnt need to be in there provided you are never more than arms length from your pack, and you dont need dinner for the last night you reach Whitney Portal either, so 7 days food should be possible and give you 8 days total hiking, which is your goal. With one dinner extra left over just-in-case if you like.
Many have used Circuits and Arc Blasts. It depends on gear obviously if it all fits inside. Ive read of at least one person on the JMT yahoo group that just strapped their BV500 to the top of their Circuit and had no issues with that either. Although that would sound undesireable to me. Other light gear in a drybag could certainly go under a top strap though, sleeping pad, shelter, etc.Dec 23, 2013 at 7:16 pm #2057223
Lisa FrugoliBPL Member
@alfrescoLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
I did the JMT from Mammoth to Whitney in 10 days. Carried all my food except for 4 dinners that a friend carried in for me. Most of it fit in the BV 300 & the rest in an ursak. Lots of bear boxes available if necessary. I have a GG Mariposa & it fits horizontally. Never saw a bear. I went the last 2 weeks of Aug.Dec 23, 2013 at 7:38 pm #2057231
@cameronLocale: Idaho Falls
Forgot to mention that SMD will be coming out with new packs at some point. Might be a good idea to wait and see what they come up with.
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