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Old 08-14-2019, 06:55 PM   #1
rbi99
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Colden Lake and bears

Coming up week of Sept 15th for a four nighter at Colden Lake. I will be bringing my two dogs with me. I haven't been reading much about bears this year, but wondered how the bear situation around Colden has been this summer.
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Old 08-14-2019, 11:38 PM   #2
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It's been an active bear season, with nuisance bear behavior frequently occurring at both Lake Colden and Marcy Dam.
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Old 08-15-2019, 07:50 AM   #3
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Years ago we had a bear walk past the front of our lean to at Colden during the middle of the night. We turned our flashlight on and saw him only a few feet from the front of it. He didn't do anything, but the flashlight suddenly going on didn't bother him either. More recently a very large black bear (as soon as we got to the beaver pt lean to he came rumbling down the trail), and that night he destroyed our two "improved" Ursack bags (before they were forbidden to use in the Daks). My question is this, has anyone ever reported a bear coming inside a lean to when people were present?
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Old 08-16-2019, 06:11 AM   #4
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8/15 backcountry information:

High Peaks Wilderness
•There continues to be high bear activity at from Marcy Dam through Avalanche Pass to Lake Colden and Uphill Lean-to/campsites. Avoid problems with bears: (8/15) ◦Cook early,
◦Secure canister immediately after taking food out, and
◦Consider bear spray for unexpected close encounters.

•The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. (2019) ◦All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters. (6 NYCRR Section 190.13)
◦DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.
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Old 08-16-2019, 06:35 AM   #5
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I'd be super careful about carrying/using bear spray. It will make remaining in your campsite uncomfortable for the bears, yes- and for you, too. Speaking from the experience of having used bear spray on a bear in the past, that stuff is pretty noxious. It can take well over an hour to disperse, and you'll want to be no where in the vicinity until it does.

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Old 08-16-2019, 07:53 AM   #6
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I thought the same thing, but it is NYSDEC that is saying that. I think it is the first time I have seen them recommend it, so things must be pretty out of control up there.
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Old 08-16-2019, 09:24 AM   #7
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Is there a way to describe the bear spray scent using any similar common odors?
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Old 08-16-2019, 12:17 PM   #8
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I'd be super careful about carrying/using bear spray. It will make remaining in your campsite uncomfortable for the bears, yes- and for you, too. Speaking from the experience of having used bear spray on a bear in the past, that stuff is pretty noxious. It can take well over an hour to disperse, and you'll want to be no where in the vicinity until it does.

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It's one thing if a bear is being nuisance, another if you are in danger. Imagine using that spray in the middle of the night because a bear spooked you? Not sleeping anymore. That's why I asked has a bear ever entered a lean to that had occupants in it. I would believe they have not. I have read that a dog in a lean to is a deterrent. Not that a dog would stand a chance against a bear, but because bears have run into a whole lot more people then dogs.

The Colden Lake area is my absolute most loved location, but excessive bear activity does concern me. Like I mentioned earlier, I have had two very close encounters there already. I have a large bearvault, but now I have to figure out how to fit five days/four nights of food into it, along with my two dogs food.
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Old 08-16-2019, 12:47 PM   #9
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... I have a large bearvault...
Old or new? One of the BV models some of the bears have learned to get into and IIRC, BV stopped making that model because of it. I believe they have come out with newer, more foolproof models.
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:26 PM   #10
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I have to figure out how to fit five days/four nights of food into it, along with my two dogs food.
Canned food in a different part of the pack? Then after it's opened you can put the flattened cans in the bear canister. Heavy, I know....
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Old 08-16-2019, 02:34 PM   #11
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, but now I have to figure out how to fit five days/four nights of food into it, along with my two dogs food.
have the dogs carry their own dang food

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Old 08-16-2019, 02:37 PM   #12
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I have the two tab bearvault, although I know at least one got broken into. Not concerned about carrying the dogs food, but fitting it into the canister at night. One of my dogs will be carrying her share while hiking in.
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Old 08-16-2019, 08:50 PM   #13
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It's one thing if a bear is being nuisance, another if you are in danger. Imagine using that spray in the middle of the night because a bear spooked you? Not sleeping anymore.
Agree 100% on both points. There's a difference between a bear that is a nuisance and a bear that is an actual threat. And I don't trust a good number of High Peaks users to be able to differentiate between the two.

I'll also ditto Dundee on the BearVaults. The addition of a second tab is pointless because Yellow-Yellow was just ripping the lid right off- and in some more recent cases they've broken through the plastic directly. You should be aware that the DEC discourages the use of BearVaults currently, and AFAIK, under the new regulations (due out next year), BearVaults will be no longer legal to use.

I think (but am not 100% sure) that if you show up at the Heart Lake trailhead with a BearVault, they will loan you a Garcia canister for free. So that might be an option until you secure a better canister.
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Old 08-16-2019, 10:08 PM   #14
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In this article: The Legend of Yellow-Yellow: New York's Most Infamous Bear, they state that there have been several instances of black bears walking right into occupied lean tos. Also the article mentioned multiple break ins of the bearvaults. So I had Ursack bags and then bearvaults. I'm 0-2.

Between the two bear incidents I have had at Colden, several years ago my wife and I came face-to-face with a full sized adult Grizzly while up in Alaska. Was just my wife and I and the bear, no one else was around. Talk about your heart in your mouth. It wasn't more then 50' away from us after he came up over a ridge as we walked along a dirt road in Denali NP. There was nothing between us and him at that point. We slowly backed up and he went back up and over the ridge he just came down from. While it felt like many minutes as we stood there and he stood where he was, it was probably only a few seconds before we started backing up.
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Old 08-18-2019, 10:58 AM   #15
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And your bear-aware precautions in a lean to may be great. But the folks that used it the night before may have cooked in it or close to it.
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Old 08-18-2019, 04:59 PM   #16
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And your bear-aware precautions in a lean to may be great. But the folks that used it the night before may have cooked in it or close to it.
The time the bear destroyed our Ursack bags that was probably the case. We hiked in a Monday in late fall. That previous weekend we were told over 50 people were camping around Colden Lake. When we were there it was only my son and I.
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Old 08-18-2019, 05:02 PM   #17
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I'm going to let the bears win this one. Instead of packing into Colden, my one dog and I will pack into the campsite at the 3.2 mile mark of the herd path from 73 going toward Dix. Having already climbed the big guy, I'm hoping we can get the other four starting with Grace.
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:45 PM   #18
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I had a bear in the old Panther Gorge leanto with me as I laid in my sleeping bag. It was close enough to smell its breath. This was back in the 80's. It sniffed around and left. The frigging mice running over the top of my head was just as scary.
Bears are the 'Alpha' critter in the woods unless man has a firearm.
Untrained dogs don't deter bears if they don't want to be deterred. A trained bear hunting dog is another story.
Slant Rock area use to be a great place to learn how undeterred a bear can be with dogs, banging pots and pans, yelling, etc.
Take precautions, use proper bear canisters and all should be fine.
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