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Old 10-06-2005, 07:04 PM   #1
rbi99
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Carrying enough food in canisters

Last time I bp'd into Lake Colden I had two "large size" Ursack bags, and I was hard pressed to fit my food in them for two people for three nights. I went so far as to cut off corners of the freeze dried food we had. I am curious as to how many days some of you are capable of going without restocking, only using one hard-sided canister per person. Obviously, a person with a very small appetite would have it easier than a larger person (I am 6'5" about 210lbs).

If you were going to do a two week backpack trip (whether in the Dacks or anywhere else) and did not have drop off sites available, could any of you actually carry all the food you needed? Like the High Peaks, many areas in California also require using hard-sided food carriers, not Ursack bags. It would help of course if you could augment your supplies by catching fish in streams, but if this wasn't available (or you weren't a fisherman!!) and you had to carry everything - can it be done?

This is probably asking way too much, but if someone carried all the food they needed for a week in a canister, I would love to know what and how much you ate each day. This is one dilemma I have never been able to resolve in all my years of packing!!!
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Old 10-06-2005, 08:38 PM   #2
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Spent 5 days and 4 nights at Lake Colden during the week in August when the bear can rule went into effect. We each had a full sized container and frankly were pretty hungry by mid afternoon of day 4. The cans were stuffed on day 1 and with the exception of a commercially dehydrated dinner and three packets of instant oatmeal, my can was empty of food by mid day 4. I purposely cut back on lunches as I'm not that hungry in the middle of a climb. Lunch was some crackers and peanut butter and an energy bar. If I were willing to dehydrate my own dinners and cook them, I believe I'd have more space in the can as the commercial stuff takes up a lot of room. I'm a big guy too so I understand your pain...I pretty much put it in my mind that eating was not the major priority of the trip. It was interesting to realize that I didn't need as much food as I had eaten in the past.
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Old 10-06-2005, 09:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbi99
Last time I bp'd into Lake Colden I had two "large size" Ursack bags, and I was hard pressed to fit my food in them for two people for three nights. I went so far as to cut off corners of the freeze dried food we had. I am curious as to how many days some of you are capable of going without restocking, only using one hard-sided canister per person. Obviously, a person with a very small appetite would have it easier than a larger person (I am 6'5" about 210lbs).

If you were going to do a two week backpack trip (whether in the Dacks or anywhere else) and did not have drop off sites available, could any of you actually carry all the food you needed? Like the High Peaks, many areas in California also require using hard-sided food carriers, not Ursack bags. It would help of course if you could augment your supplies by catching fish in streams, but if this wasn't available (or you weren't a fisherman!!) and you had to carry everything - can it be done?

This is probably asking way too much, but if someone carried all the food they needed for a week in a canister, I would love to know what and how much you ate each day. This is one dilemma I have never been able to resolve in all my years of packing!!!
We are big fans of dehydrating meals. They save a lot of room, and with a little "creative" packing you can get quite a lot in the canister. Try this document. Canisters are not designed to hold two weeks of food. Other than food drops, or hiking with people who also bring canisters, I don't know how you'd manage food on a trip of that length.
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Old 10-06-2005, 09:26 PM   #4
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If it was me, I'd hedge on using some freeze dried food and carrying it in separate bag in my pack and then stashing (not hanging) it a distance from the camp. Since it is freeze dried and hermatically sealed, there is no odor for a bear to smell and if there is no bag hanging from a tree, nothing to alert a foraging bear. If you wnt to take it a step further, wrap the freeze dried puches in aluminum foil with a crushed aspirin and cover it with leaves or pine needles.

Make sure that any unused open pouches are stored in the bear canister.

It may be a violation of regulations but for my part I see nothing that would attract a bear and I would feel perfectly safe. I hiked 2700 miles in bear country and never had an encounter using the foil/aspirin trick.

As for the regulation, does it say that ALL food MUST be carried in the bear canister, or that a bear canister is required?
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Old 10-06-2005, 09:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redhawk
As for the regulation, does it say that ALL food MUST be carried in the bear canister, or that a bear canister is required?
Offhand, I don't see the word "ALL" in the description. It says, in part: "The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the adoption of a regulation requiring overnight users in the Eastern Zone of the High Peaks Wilderness Area to use bear resistant canisters for the storage of food, toiletries, and garbage during the period of April 1 through November 30 of each year. The regulation will become effective following publication in the New York State Register tomorrow, August 24, 2005."

Personally, I interpret that to mean "ALL food MUST be carried in the bear canister."

Here is the regulation.

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Old 10-06-2005, 11:21 PM   #6
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Something interesting I remember reading from someone's journal of their thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. In preparing to hike the 100 mile wilderness in Maine they had someone take them ahead to where there are logging road crossings of the trail. Off the trail at strategic points they put food, double bagged in black plastic garbage bags and sprayed the inner and outer bags thoroughly with insect spray. Not a bag was disturbed and they sat there a week or two. Can't remember why the length of time was so long. Now as I remember, my impression was that the spray was an insecticede (insect killer) like Raid. My impression was that it was NOT Cutter's or "OFF" type. If I had to I think I coud probably find this again since it should be in something I own but just not right away.
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Old 10-07-2005, 04:43 AM   #7
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Hawk, the rangers are certainly interpreting the reg. to mean all food.

A major problem is that all your smelly stuff has to be stored in the can, including t.p. and medications and garbage. Some folks leave the t.p. at home, god help them. I do leave the underarm d. in the car and fold the garbage up flat.

In sum, cans not only weigh a lot, they're a bit too small so a hiker's ingenuity is required.

As an aside. I see that the Bear Vault now comes in two sizes so if you have a big pack, I suppose you could carry two cans.
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Old 10-07-2005, 09:46 AM   #8
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Redhawk, after the bear tore my two Ursacks bags up, I obviously had to contact them to let them know. They said that bears definitely can smell freeze dried food even if it is in unopened packages. They provided an inner bag that looked like a cheap glad bag kind of arrangement that they said helped keep food odors in - NOT!!! I also had assumed that bears wouldn't smell the freeze dried stuff.
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Old 10-07-2005, 10:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rbi99
Redhawk, after the bear tore my two Ursacks bags up, I obviously had to contact them to let them know. They said that bears definitely can smell freeze dried food even if it is in unopened packages. They provided an inner bag that looked like a cheap glad bag kind of arrangement that they said helped keep food odors in - NOT!!! I also had assumed that bears wouldn't smell the freeze dried stuff.
Were the Ursacks hanging in a tree? Thats probably more of a trigger then the smell if bears are used to campers hanging bear bags. I am well aware of how good the nose of a bear is. Did those ursacks ever have any kind of food in them other then freeze dried prior to the incident? Could npt the smell from food have been in there at an earlier time caused the bear to behave the way it did?

However, having been in proximity of bears (brown, black and grizzly) for a goodly amount of time I personally have yet to see any activity that causes me to believe that they can smell or are drawn to freeze dried food stored in vacumn sealed (like inertia foods for example) packages.

I suppose that since bears have been known to break open canned goods with their jaws and eat the food, some might say that bears can smell through the cans. I would say that bears recognize cans as a source of food by sight as opposed to smell.

If you were to take a brand new stuff sack, put some rocks into it and hang it from a tree near a lean to at Marcy Dam, do you think it would be untouched by bears?

Understand that I am not saying that I am right. I am trying to put forth ALL the possibilities here. I also am not advocating side stepping a regulation to the detriment of safety, but I think that we should all be informed with as much infformation as possible in order to make a sensible decision.
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Old 10-07-2005, 02:06 PM   #10
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Redhawk you pose some interesting suggestions/questions. On this particular trip I am referring to, the bags were brand new. In addition, I was on a mission to defeat the bears in the Colden area because of all the trouble they were causing (maybe I have that wrong - it was the people causing the problem). I did not hang the bags in a tree or on the overhead line, rather I fastened them to two different trees away from the overhead food line and away from each other. I really thought I got clever when I had my wife make two camouflaged bags to put them in (my thinking being that most stuff sacks are very colorful and that by itself is a beacon for the bears - even if they don't see colors). We saw the bear that evening coming down the trail and watched him go up and over by the overhead food line. He kept on going, so we thought the score was Us 1 - Bears 0. We hiked in on a Monday to avoid the weekend crowds, and really lucked out as there was only one other couple in the entire Colden area, and they were further back near Flowed Lands. Never heard a single sound all night. Needless to say the final score was Bears 2 - Us 0!!!
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Old 10-07-2005, 05:10 PM   #11
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Redhawk: "If you were to take a brand new stuff sack, put some rocks into it and hang it from a tree near a lean to at Marcy Dam, do you think it would be untouched by bears?"

Someone did just that at Colden dam a few years ago, and watched the bear take a flying leap from another tree, get the bag, and walk away disappointed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rbi99
(my thinking being that most stuff sacks are very colorful and that by itself is a beacon for the bears - even if they don't see colors).
I don't know what evidence this is based upon, but rangers tell you to use black rather than light colored cord to hang bags, as it is supposedly less visible to bears.

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Old 10-07-2005, 11:09 PM   #12
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I'm inclined to think that the bears went by sight as opposed to smell. Once a bear or most any animal realizes a food source, they then search for it.
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