Sep 21, 2007 at 12:37 pm #1225136
I recently used the PCT method for hanging food on a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. See the following link for an excellent description of the method: BPL PCT METHOD LINK
Overall, I very much liked the method. However, I do have one question. What do you all do with the excess rope hanging down? Do you leave it laying on the ground? Tie it up high?
BrianSep 21, 2007 at 1:34 pm #1403032
@ryleybLocale: Pacific Northwest
I just let it hang to the ground… I'm thinking that a bear (or bears) smart enough to figure out the PCT bear hang deserves your food :)Sep 21, 2007 at 4:02 pm #1403049
Good point – however, my concern would be could the pull hard enough on the rope to break the branch?Sep 21, 2007 at 5:01 pm #1403056
I've wondered about that myself, but concluded it was not a problem because bears don't have thumbs and opposing fingers to manipulate the rope and they wouldn't be able to do it with their mouth because the rope is too slippery and small in diameter to give them anything to bite down on hard enough to gain any purchase, especially if you use the BPL ropes. I would be concerned, however, in habituated bear areas, about the bears chewing through the hanging limb, so select carefully. Also, in places like Yosemite NP, and the upper Bubbs creek area of Kings Canyon NP, bears have been reported to lie in ambush, waiting until you retrieve your food(from bagging or canister) and then charging to run you off it. Bluffing?? I don't know. Sort of like Dirty Harry from my perspective: "Are you feeling lucky…?"
Good luck.Sep 21, 2007 at 8:52 pm #1403074
You know… I had not thought about a bear having difficulty either grasping or biting un-gathered rope simply hanging down. If one were to tie up the excess rope (e.g. to keep rodents away from it), but it were still in reach of a bear, they would have more to get a hold of and potentially break the tree limb.Sep 22, 2007 at 4:50 pm #1403159
Most definitely! I would guess that they would pull it down far enough to get at the clove hitched stick and break that, or pull the rope down far enough to run the bag up to the limb and either over it or break the bag loose from the rope. A good argument for letting the rope hang loose.
Rodents will get at the food anyway in habituated areas. I've personally seen them shinny down a rope from above. It's quite a sight to behold. All that's missing are little black burglar masks. Moral of the story: Stay away from habituated areas, which is close to a mantra on this web site-for a lot of good reasons.Dec 26, 2008 at 8:17 pm #1466647
I've used a hitch and blood-knots to tie bags while I thru hiked the PCT. I didn't mind setting up camp at night but I HATED tying bags. I know you have to use canisters during certain sections of the PCT in the Sierras, but I recently bought one of these and it works great.
You don't have to tie a knot or carry a canister and I like it better than my Ursack.Dec 26, 2008 at 9:51 pm #1466660
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
That is a neat item and concept, I have never seen or even thought of that before. Thanks for sharing.Dec 27, 2008 at 6:34 am #1466675
Can the quickrope method actually get the bear bag high enough as recommended for bear bagging? Isn't the recommended height supposed to be 15 ft?Dec 27, 2008 at 11:15 am #1466709
– -K.T.- –Participant
Looks like you do something out of stiff wire that would fit your pole for less weight and money. I don't see people getting those things high enough either though.Dec 27, 2008 at 12:00 pm #1466717
@wandering_bobLocale: Oregon, USA
I've seen trail crews use some very elaborate, reliable, and highly effective hangs for base camps where large quantities of non-freeze dried foodstuffs must be protected and where "don't cook within a mile of where you sleep" is just not possible.
That said, I personally do not feel that high hanging is worth the time, effort, and frustration for camps that move every day. There is a real possibility that if you do get it up high enough, you can not get it back down. Then what?
Take a good look at the types of trees along the PCT. WA and OR are mostly conifers – primarily Douglas Fir. The first branch is often 40 feet or more off the ground, and the branches tend to be grouped together (the Sequoia is a master at this). Tossing anything over one of them is iffy at best; and impossible with a Sequoia.
In many years of backpacking in OR and WA, I've slept with or very near, my food bag without bear problems. I do hedge my bets by putting my trash in an odorproof bag hung about 3 feet off the ground about 100 feet away from camp.
Numerous airborne camp robbers have swooped in to help themselves to whatever was handy when I turned my back, and I did lose one bag of gorp to a banzai charge by field mice during the night, but only because I foolishly left it on my hat instead of hanging from my trekking pole.
Using bear cans in the Sierras make sense because much of the trail is above timberline (aka no trees). Below timberline, the bears are well schooled in the subtle art of taking down hangs. That's why they're not legal methods of food protection in Yosemite NP. suck it up, carry the extra weight of the canister, and sleep soundly at night, knowing your food will be safe. Yogi might move the can (if you don't place it right) but he can't get into it (assuming you closed it right).Dec 28, 2008 at 6:13 pm #1466942
yup, it's 15 feet. the quickrope thing is made so that you don't need to have your hiking poles with you, you can use a stick to get it up there. i take that to mean that you can hang it anywhere with a long stick in a jiffy.Dec 28, 2008 at 6:21 pm #1466943
there are lots of sections of the PCT where the first tree branch is really high up but i have to say that half the time (or more) you can find suitable trees with much lower branches.
i remember having to throw a rock over high tree branches, having to tie friend's bear bags for them, etc. i remember a morning or two when bears came into our campsite.. even one time when a black bear tried to bite through our canister!
this thing would have saved me a lot of time. as soon as i didn't have to use a canister by law, i ditched it. couldn't wait to mail that home.
totally, this thing would have helped out, especially when it was cold or late in the evening. the worst part of the day is tying a bag or hanging your stuff.. yuck. better to cook some food or go to sleep.Oct 25, 2011 at 9:04 am #1794784
@herman666Locale: Northern Virginia
I have personal experience with letting the tail rope hang all the way to the ground. It makes a fine mouse ladder. Now I coil up the end so it dangles a few feet above the ground.
I've found that a Marlin Spike Hitch is much much easier to get off the stickin the morning than is a clove hitch. It's also easier to tie on the stick.Oct 25, 2011 at 9:45 am #1794801
@kylemeyerLocale: Portland, OR
What diameter rope are you using that mice can walk up it? I'd suspect some 2.2mm dyneema arborist rope rated to around 600lbs would serve both your pack weight and your food well.Oct 25, 2011 at 11:27 am #1794840
@brooklynkayakLocale: South West US
It looks like the quickrope domain has been hijacked and the link is broken.
I recently started using the counter balance method on recommendation from David Olsen. He says that some bears have learned to associate the rope with food bags and mess around with the rope until the food drops. The counter balance method keeps the rope away from reach.
Of course this method only works if you have the right kind of trees.
I can see how canisters are your only safe option in many locations.Oct 25, 2011 at 11:36 am #1794845
I ran the end of my bear bagging cord through the cord sleeve of a very small stuff sack (rock sack) and tied it off to the cord. When I'm done hanging the bag using the PCT method I just stuff the end of the rope in the rock sack until it's about 3-4 feet off the ground and sinch the rock sack closed, leaving the rock sack hanging in the air 3-4 feet off the ground.Oct 25, 2011 at 11:56 am #1794859
For 20 years before bear canisters came out, we used the Two-Bag Counterbalance Method in Yosemite, and I never lost any food to a bear in those years. The black bears there have been considered the smartest at stealing food from backpackers.
–B.G.–Oct 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm #1794892
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
My experience too. A good counterbalance worked even with Bub's creek bears and
60 pounds of food. Bears that routinely charged hikers to get them to drop their
packs on the trail and took packs out from under hikers heads when used as a pillow
just because the packs smelled of food.
The problem is finding the perfect tree(s). Sometimes it took 3 hours to get the right
tree, limb, and the food hung up to the right height.Oct 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm #1794905
"The problem is finding the perfect tree(s). Sometimes it took 3 hours to get the right tree, limb, and the food hung up to the right height."
Yes, the elusive perfect tree is as hard to find as a wolverine.
Usually backpackers pick a campsite that has been used before, is flat enough, and has access to water.
Back in the days of bear bagging, I used to pick a campsite that had a perfect tree 50 yards away, used before, flat, and has access to water.
–B.G.–Oct 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm #1794958
"For 20 years before bear canisters came out, we used the Two-Bag Counterbalance Method in Yosemite, and I never lost any food to a bear in those years. The black bears there have been considered the smartest at stealing food from backpackers."
That makes them the second smartest bears at best, Bob. A friend of mine took his girlfriend up to Sphinx Lakes in KCNP back in 1984, on my recommendation. They counter balanced their food and late at night watched in amazement as a sow,frustrated by the counterbalance, proceeded to climb the tree and chew through the ~4" limb while her two cubs watched attentively below and took copious notes. The girlfriend had never much liked me anyway, and was convinced that I had set them up. ;)Oct 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm #1794966
That's interesting. I've never seen a bear chew through any limb bigger than 3 inches.
Generally, the sow picks out the tree, and then she sends the cubs up the tree and out on the limb. Then either they chew the rope or else just claw the rope until it breaks. Sometimes the cubs will paw the rope to get the food bags swinging back and forth. Then sometimes the sow will grab one of them. Sometimes the cubs perform "kamikaze bear" routines. They jump onto the food bag and try to ride it down. Of course, you get a lot of injured bears that way.
I guess it is sufficient to say that the national parks with lots of backpackers tend to have intelligent bears. Yosemite had a problem that way, because the sow bears would teach the cubs how to pry open a car door, and all those standard bear tricks. Then each generation would pass those tricks onto the next generation. Yosemite is hoping that by all backpackers using bear canisters and all car campers using bear lockers, that maybe they can break the chain of learning.
–B.G.–Oct 25, 2011 at 4:21 pm #1794973
@brooklynkayakLocale: South West US
And now a bear(Yellow-Yellow) in the Adirondacks has figured how to open bear canisters.Oct 25, 2011 at 4:48 pm #1794981
"That's interesting. I've never seen a bear chew through any limb bigger than 3 inches."
Me neither, but this guy was a carpenter and I wasn't about to dispute his estimate of thickness. Matter of fact, I haven't seen a bear chew through a branch, period. It's a minor point of pride with me that I haven't had a run in with bears since two closely spaced incidents during my first two years of backpacking. The whole point, as far as I'm concerned, is to be where they're not. Generally, that means high and remote or, in the Cascades, remote. Those are the places I love anyway, so it's no sacrifice as far as I'm concerned.Oct 25, 2011 at 5:34 pm #1794996
(Bears) "The whole point, as far as I'm concerned, is to be where they're not."
Oh, no! That would take all of the fun out of it.
The little fuzzy wuzzies are so cute. They make photography worthwhile.
I do my damnednest to lure them into camp so that I will get the camera out. I don't even consider it to be a good trip unless I can get two or three fuzzy wuzzy photos.
Those poor little forest creatures were assigned to come and try to get your food. It is their whole role in life.
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