Desolation sound and bear country

Redcedar

Paddler
Joined
Mar 25, 2005
Messages
239
Location
Comox
The boogie man of the woods , BEARS , they do eat people now and then but it's rare , slightly more often they just wound you , sometimes severely and then wander off . Putting food up hanging away from camp is good , putting it in your boat and anchoring off-shore is not as good , bears swim and have damaged boats trying to get at the food.

Air horns , flares , bear spray all good ideas and it is wise to be proficient and carry all three , guns can work very well at times but bring their own complications . There is no perfect answer , just lessen the risk and realize the drive to your kayaking destination is more risky than the chance of a bear attack or that's what they tell me . I've had a couple interactions with grizzlies all ended uneventfully , well that one time an exploding soup can in the fire that went off like a rocket into the forest might have helped ( not recommended at all )

Alexander MacKenzie back in 1793 with a tough group of slaves ... er HBC employees ( and a dog ) made a hard dash to the Pacific Ocean from the Peace River country but he never once mentioned Grizzly Bears which you think he would especially in the Bella Coola river valley but he didn't , why is that ? There were many people living in the valley with many drying racks that may have had salmon on them at that time of year. It is my theory that the natives killed off the bears with dead-fall traps . Deadfall traps are made of logs and break a bears back when they grab the bait - much safer than shooting it full of arrows or spearing it . If I was a native living in that river valley and relied on dried salmon to see me through the lean times I sure wouldn't take kindly to some bear eating all my winters food .

Here is a fairly recent Grizzly bear attack story https://vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/...abs-grizzly-bear-to-fend-off-attack-1.4529436
 

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
970
Location
Bend OR USA
SZihn, yeah, I'd feel better if it were a smaller grizzly :)

Anchoring your kayak in 8 ft (at one point of time in the tide cycle) of water may offer a diversion, but your, "but to paddle back disappointed" may not follow if it works and the grizzly actually makes it to your boat. You may not have much of a boat left.

I'd keep food far away from the boat and away from camp. Some hikers adopt the plan of eating breakfast aways down the trail - after they pack up and leave camp. Also, have dinner somewhere on the trail and then keep hiking for a while before making camp. Of course, at that time they still have food with them.

We might not have the opportunity to "pull over" as easily as stopping on the trail, but eating at a location different from your camp could be considered. Though, like the hiker, you are still carrying food.

I like to sleep in a hammock. But I can't help but remember that Gary Larson cartoon of two polar bears looking at an igloo. One says to the other, "I like those. Hard and crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside."
 

JohnAbercrombie

Paddler
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Messages
3,303
Location
Victoria, BC
I'm only a human and I can smell freshly-cleaned fish from a fair way away, so I wouldn't go on a trip where fishing was planned.
I also would shy away from folks who like very smelly foods like canned sardines for the same reason. I've seen people pouring off the liquid from a can of sardines near a campsite on more than one occasion, a very 'veteran' kayak camper pouring pasta water a few feet from a tent, etc etc.. I know solo trips mean that there's only one person to make a racket if an animal approaches, but at least I have control over some other factors.
 

AM

Paddler
Joined
Jan 30, 2006
Messages
1,028
Location
Vancouver
I’m not recommending the following approach, but I point it out to illustrate that we can have wildly different ideas about food and bear safety. This is from Andrew Skurka’s The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide (2nd Ed.). Skurka is a renowned long-distance backpacker and has done huge trips solo in Alaska and the Yukon. This might shock you:

“I have slept with my food on hundreds of nights, even in areas inhabited by black and grizzly bears. And I’m not the only one: Among thru-hikers it’s standard practice, and dozens of readers on my Facebook page recently confirmed that they do it as well…

Often I use my food sack as a pillow, or I tuck it under my knees in order to reduce stress on my lower back. If I have available better props (e.g., an air pillow), I leave my food bag by my side, in contact with my mattress.

A bear has never stolen food that I was sleeping on or next to. (Although, I’ve never had a bear enter my camp either, which I attribute to the avoidance techniques described earlier.) And I can’t find a documented case of this happening to another hiker. I’m sure that it has, but overall the odds seem low. When sleeping on or next to my food, essentially I’m claiming ownership of it. It’s a bold statement, but I’m hoping that a bear decides that easier calories are available elsewhere. If instead my food bag were 20 yards away, I think that’s more likely to be perceived as fair game.”

The ”avoidance techniques” he mentions are camping in low- or no-use sites and cooking/eating meals at least a mile from camp. Again, I’m not recommending this approach, but it does go to show that our fear of bears has to be put in context.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

Mowog73

Paddler
Joined
Apr 27, 2021
Messages
94
Location
SW Ontario
I like to sleep in a hammock. But I can't help but remember that Gary Larson cartoon of two polar bears looking at an igloo. One says to the other, "I like those. Hard and crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside."
I've been carrying this Sherman Lagoon cartoon around in a folder since 1995, just scanned it a moment ago. It makes me smile every time I see it, hence why I have been holding on to it for so long.
[Untitled].jpg
 

eggabeewa

Paddler
Joined
Dec 12, 2019
Messages
30
Location
Greater Vancouver, BC
I'm only a human and I can smell freshly-cleaned fish from a fair way away, so I wouldn't go on a trip where fishing was planned.
I also would shy away from folks who like very smelly foods like canned sardines for the same reason. I've seen people pouring off the liquid from a can of sardines near a campsite on more than one occasion, a very 'veteran' kayak camper pouring pasta water a few feet from a tent, etc etc.. I know solo trips mean that there's only one person to make a racket if an animal approaches, but at least I have control over some other factors.
This an example of what can cause bear problems. Not necessarily for you but especially for future parties. All dish washing, waste disposal etc should be well away from camp and on costal trips below the tide line so it blends in with the natural foods. Anyone who does otherwise needs to be educated. If they are inexperienced i would educate. If just dumb or stubborn they won't be long term friends. I also avoid aromatic foods like bacon. I do take beef jerky though but i keep all my food in a bear canister. I would be ok with fishing but would clean it in the ocean. Bear problems would probably be the most extreme but more frequently problems will be rodents or raccoons for which canisters also work. I've been using canisters for all back country for a while now.
 

Jasper

Paddler
Joined
Jun 8, 2017
Messages
103
Location
Portland, OR, US
A bear has never stolen food that I was sleeping on or next to. (Although, I’ve never had a bear enter my camp either, which I attribute to the avoidance techniques described earlier.) And I can’t find a documented case of this happening to another hiker.
He didn't look very hard: https://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/officials-hunt-grizzly-killed-camper-montana-town-78710156

I would say that his statements are a dangerous example of confirmation bias, and one of the main reasons he gets away with it is that others do practice proper bear etiquette. The point of bear etiquette is not just to keep yourself safe, but also -- by not training them to associate humans with food -- to keep the bear and others safer.
 
Last edited:

AM

Paddler
Joined
Jan 30, 2006
Messages
1,028
Location
Vancouver
To be fair to Skurka, he is not talking about habituated bears that are used to human contact, as is the case in the article you cite. His recommendation is for remote hikers who have the ability to camp in no-use sites. And he very clearly teaches his students to research every area they intend to visit along a number of parameters, including talking to authorities about previous bear encounters.

To bring this back to kayaking, our coast is becoming increasingly busy with campers. Some areas, such as Garden Bay in Nuchatlitz, are known for bear activity. Some, such as Vargas Island, are known for wolf activity. Doing some research and being aware of previous incidents is a part of the decision of what to do with food.

Cheers,
Andrew
 

dmon707

Paddler
Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
16
Location
San Francisco, CA
I sleep with the bulk of my food under the tent flap, but in sealed dry bags, except for the smelly stuff that bears really like-- sausage, cheese, sugar. That smelly stuff goes in 1/2 size bear canisters. I carry two of them just behind my Feathercraft seat. When ashore those canisters are a goodly distance from my tent. They would be the bear's first stop upon encountering my camp.

I used to put noisemakers on them so I'd be warned, but nothing has ever come. When bears encounter my camp it's generally at meal time when I have something on the stove. Then I have to yell bloody murder at them. Oh, and I try to avoid camping around cabins. Those bears are bolder.
 

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
970
Location
Bend OR USA
Vargas Island was my first real kayak adventure. I didn’t see (or read, or ignored) the Wolf Present sign. I hung my food - all freeze dried stuff - about 4 feet off the ground. Let’s see a chipmunk jump that high. The next day, I saw this “print” in the sand. Gee, someone’s big dog walked through our camp. The track continued on the trail leading from the beach to the compose toilet area - passed my hanging (4 ft off the ground) food cache. Maybe any food smells were overwhelmed by those of the compost toilet. Maybe the wolf saw my pitiful food hang and could help but laugh and move on. But nothing was touched.

I didn’t think - "Gee, I guess I don’t have to hang my food.” I realized there were critters out there - brought home in abundance once I visited Raccoon Island (A.K.A. Jones). So I bought ropes and a pulley and did a proper hang. But now I just use a bear canister. It’s easier to access when I inevitably forget something after the food bag is rehoisted.
 

jefffski

Paddler
Joined
Jan 2, 2014
Messages
125
You can't generally carry a gun in Canada. Cook far from your tent. Wash dishes far from your tent. Store food far from your tent in the forest away from where people generally go. As bears are creatures of habit, they'll check the usual places first. If a bear is not habituated, it'll run away when it sees humans.
 

cougarmeat

Paddler
Joined
Sep 17, 2012
Messages
970
Location
Bend OR USA
dmon707 - I'm not sure about that sensor, you'd definitely want to try it out at home to check the volume - note that they just say, "loud piercing sound". They don't give a frequency or decibel level. Also, if it is triggered by mere motion, a blowing leaf or branch in its range could trigger it.

If you use it at camp, and there are others, not in your group, camping nearby, you might want to alert them about the potential of any "loud piercing sound".

For that reason, I bought some $10, battery-powered, motion sensor lights. They have two purposes. 1) I put one on the picnic table and if it's triggered (and I wake up) I can see what's there. If I sleep through it, I don't care. I've learned to put food away (yes, I know. That makes me the "food"). 2) I might put one in the compost toilet room. Because they have no light at night. Sure, I could bring a flashlight, but there's enough light, outside, at night to make my way there. It's only when inside that a little additional light would be handy..
 
Top