:)Hi, All. I have not taken my first backpacking trip, yet, but I'm so looking forward to it. My plan is to do a practice run on Eagle Creek trail in the Columbia Gorge. The practice run was recommended to me by someone at another web site and I appreciate any and all input available on the subject. I plan on packing everything I will need for overnight (and maybe stay overnight, too, if I feel comfortable doing so). I just read about bear bags and don't know a thing about them. I wonder if I would need one just in the Columbia Gorge? I'm so glad there is a great resource in this web site, which was also recommended to me from the other web site. Happy trails.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
"Bear Bagging" is generally a good idea wherever you go backpacking. What it means is, you take a rope and toss over a high branch in a tree and hoist your food up there with it. You can use most any old bag to hold your food for that.
The main thing is to get it up high enough. I think about 15 feet up would be the least you'd want. In any case, it needs to be higher than the bear trying to get it can reach
And put it a safe distance from where you'll be sleeping. At least 50 feet is what I shoot for.
Well I have decided to break my silence - It was quite comedic watching ringtail and phat trying to put up a bear bag on our campng trip to Whatum Lake Oregon last year. Huge douglas firs are just too big to be tree like - they're more like camping next to a round cliff and the first branch is about a thousand feet up. Hanging you food is a complex chore and one that you do differently every time and even old pros get laughed at sometimes from their antics.
So anyway a couple of words of advice. Do Not use a soft twisted rope or cord that will "stick" to the bark of the tree branch that you throw it over or you most likely will end up a piece of cord in your hands while you food sways in the breese 20 feet out of reach in the tree where you can't get it but everything else can.
In many areas there are bear and they are extremely inteligent although each individual is different in his expertise - they say some Yosemite bears can untie knots. Anyway be sure that the method you use to hang your food is adequate for the local fauna. A squirrel type will chew through ropes to drop food, I see it in my backyard.
Hang your food in a waterproof container and I have found that 2-4 plastic grocey bags can be extremely useful both as vapor barriers inside boots and for hanging food, emergency waterproof gloves, garbage bags, etc.
Besure to have a method or retrieval before hoisting your food (stuff) into a tree.
And a warning. If your cord/food is stuck and you decide to use overwhelming force to pull it down - think. If you pull with 200 pounds of force on a nylon line, the line will stretch. Now lets say the limb breaks - its above you and its going to come dead at your hands if you are pulling with your hands. That stretched rope is like a bow string and accelerates the branch to very high speed depending on its mass and the cord etc. Being hit with a couple hundred foot pounds of energy contained in a hard sharp object can be very bad for you. Fortunately I wasn't hurt too bad, but it Could kill you. SO IF YOU USE OVERWHELMING FORCE TO REMOVE A PACK STUCK IN A TREE DO NOT PUT YOURSELF IN THE PATH OF A FLYING OBJECT, INSTEAD PASS THE CORD SLIGHT AROUND ANOTHER TREE AND BACK UP TO PULL SO IF ANYTHING SNAPS IT WILL FOLLOW THE CORD AND HIT THE TREE NOT YOU. Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
That reminds me of a group trip to the North Cascades 20-some years ago. On the way in, we saw 2 bear, about 2 miles apart. The trip leader insisted it was the same bear following us on the far side of the creek. He never saw the first bear, which disappeared before he got there, so how did he know? Anyway, the leader insisted we do a group food hang. So 10 people's food bags (4 days each, so a fair amount of weight) were tied to a rope and two intrepid guys got the rope over a high branch and started hauling. The bags got almost to the branch when the rope broke, and down came 10 food bags! There were some bruises on the part of the rope haulers, but fortunately no serious injury. I removed my food bag (as did several others) before the broken ends of the rope were tied together for the next attempt!
And yes, our old growth Pacific NW trees do present a special problem!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey
phat, I converted to Ursack right after that trip. I can learn.
I never was very good at the bear bagging. I "lost" the bear bag one time. I found a good spot, but when I went to retreive it before dawn I could not find it. Picture a guy wandering aimlessly shining a light into the trees. I now use TripTease.
"In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not." Yogi Berra