Some things I noticed in the backcountry

My wife and I were on PTO lately and spent a lot of time in the mountains.  A couple of places were quite busy and lots of opportunity to see and hear things.
  • I heard “Bear spray – take it with you as it may save your life”.
    • No.  That is not necessarily true.  It could cost you your life too. Some good things to know are:
      • Bear spray is molecules of pepper.  That means a wind you do not see or feel can move them easily.  So into your face for example.
      • Many bear encounters include bluff charges, so if you do nothing you are fine.  Bear spray could make that worse.
      • If you talk with your hiking mate that is all that is required to keep a bear away.  If you are walking along a river that has noise it may not work.  So sing, or yell.  I like to yell “Yo, bear”.  As well, one time when I had a long walk on a trail with fresh Grizzly tracks, I got tired of yelling.  So I used a pot and beat on it with a spoon.
      • Bear spray is hard to aim.  The best place to aim is in the open mouth of the bear. So wait for the last second to spray.
      • So having bear spray is handy.  But you should fire it so you understand how it can be easily blown in your face.  And you should know when not to use it too. You can often find bear training that includes use of bear spray.  My wife and I did one and we fired it and learned a lot.
  • Knowledge of your trail is pretty handy!
    • For example, bringing water is smart as often back woods water can have bugs in it that are harmful to humans.
    • It might rain, or it might snow, or it might get really cold.  So it is good to pull a sweater or jacket out of your pack.
    • It might be longer than you expect, or it might have some sort of obstacles that could slow you down.  If you know that, you might bring more food or water.
    • So a pack, with some snacks, and a sweater and jacket is good (and sun block too). I also bring a map, and compass and know how to use both of them.  I also have a very nice GPS app on my iPhone that I use too. It has an amazing collection of maps and they are very detailed.
  • Bear bells can save you.
    • Nope.  Not true.
    • Bear bells are not worth anything in the back country.  Except as an irritant to humans.
    • A human voice talking will do more to keep bears away. I was told once it is a frequency thing, the bells have a frequency that doesn’t impact bears at all. I have seen this in the backcountry myself so I know it to be true – they really will not keep a bear away.
You might imagine what I saw and heard to think about writing the above.  I hope that this might help someone. If you have questions or comments let me know!
Michael
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4 thoughts on “Some things I noticed in the backcountry

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