Thoughts on bear options in southern Utah?

Lisa

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I'm planning a 5 day trip to probably Dark Canyon for me and my pup in April. Here's my dilemma. I have the small bearvault that I usually take backpacking. Now, with the mutt, I either need to hang food or get a bigger canister. I'd rather just bear bag it, but I don't know how wily the bears are there.

Any advice on bear bag vs. canister?
 

Nick

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I would never carry a canister there. Plenty of hanging options and those bears aren't very used to people, so I don't think you'd have any problems with them figuring it out.
 

John Goering

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Bear cans perhaps do add a layer of security but my take on it is that if you PROPERLY hang your food/garbage/etc, there is still next to zero chance a bear will get in it. I have never had a problem hanging the food in over a half century in bear country. Personally, I will not be packing a bear can anywhere they are not required.
 
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Lisa

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Perfect! Thanks Nick and John. I don't usually worry too much, but the canister requirements at Bryce and others made me think I was missing something.
 

Nick

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Yeah, I think hanging PROPERLY is the key, as John said. That's just silly that Bryce requires canisters. I'm a huge fan of our national parks, but that's a good example of getting a little heavy-handed with the regulations because it's a park. I understand when canisters are required because of no suitable places to hang, or because the bears in a given area have gotten very good at defeating a hang line (Sierras), but Bryce?! Come on!

If you want an 'in between' measure, you could always use an Ursack. I think they are acceptable as approved bear canisters in most places now (or will be soon).
 

WasatchWill

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If using an Ursack, just make sure the contents you put in it can take a beating and be stepped on with minimal damage. I'd also put the contents in an odor proof bag to minimize the odor and hopefully thereby add an extra layer of bear protection.
 

Absarokanaut

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@Vegan.Hiker

Sad to report Yellow Yellow was harvested more than two years ago.

Ursacks are not allowed in some places for obvious reasons. Beyond the food getting pummeled whether eaten or not I've seen bears open car doors like a Sardine can so count me as one that likes the convenience and far greater reliability of a canister. Being rated a "bear resistant" container by the IGBC means nothing to me.

If you do it right hanging is an excellent means of protecting food and gear from bears; unfortunately very few of us REALLY know how to do the counterbalance method and just tying it off is far less reliable.
 

LarryBoy

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Yeah, I think hanging PROPERLY is the key, as John said. That's just silly that Bryce requires canisters. I'm a huge fan of our national parks, but that's a good example of getting a little heavy-handed with the regulations because it's a park. I understand when canisters are required because of no suitable places to hang, or because the bears in a given area have gotten very good at defeating a hang line (Sierras), but Bryce?! Come on!

If you want an 'in between' measure, you could always use an Ursack. I think they are acceptable as approved bear canisters in most places now (or will be soon).
I'd like to see a degree of standardization in our National Parks with respect to backcountry usage. Capitol Reef's system is great, while the Grand Canyon still uses a fax machine. Same thing with bear canisters - Grand Teton makes you bring a can, while Yellowstone requires you to hang it, despite sharing a border and having similar animals.

FWIW, the 2014 and later Ursack may have IGBC certification, but the parks aren't obligated to accept the Ursack as a valid bearproof container as far as I understand. Talked to a BC ranger in the Tetons, for example, who informed me that an Ursack was not allowed as a method of bear protection - and also that he wouldn't care if he found anyone using it in the backcountry. So there's the human element too!
 

Nick

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I'd like to see a degree of standardization in our National Parks with respect to backcountry usage. Capitol Reef's system is great, while the Grand Canyon still uses a fax machine. Same thing with bear canisters - Grand Teton makes you bring a can, while Yellowstone requires you to hang it, despite sharing a border and having similar animals.

I agree, however I'd hardly call Capitol Reef's system a good one. In-person only at the VC or the Anasazi Museum during often narrow business hours has proven to be a real pain in the ass for me. Given the usage, an extension of the GSENM permit system seems appropriate, at least for those willing to complete a pre-auth kind of like Zion's permit express. Zion, GTNP and Canyonlands all have good systems now. Yeah, fax machines are lame.
 

LarryBoy

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I agree, however I'd hardly call Capitol Reef's system a good one. In-person only at the VC or the Anasazi Museum during often narrow business hours has proven to be a real pain in the ass for me. Given the usage, an extension of the GSENM permit system seems appropriate, at least for those willing to complete a pre-auth kind of like Zion's permit express. Zion, GTNP and Canyonlands all have good systems now. Yeah, fax machines are lame.
I'd agree with that. I'd say the majority of backcountry users in Capitol Reef are driving down from the Wasatch Front after work (too late to get a permit), and for those of us who like to be hiking at first light, waiting til 8 to get it at Anasazi is a drag.

Your point about a pre-authorization brings up an idea a friend and I were tossing around a couple weeks ago - the Not An Idiot card. Wouldn't it be nice if you could skip the "bury your poop and don't walk on crypto" videos and lectures, and not hear horror stories about people getting nibbled by bears, etc? You'd have to complete some sort of certification, showing that you're a competent BC user with experience, knowledge, and skills, and you could get fast-laned into getting a permit. The NAIC would be good at all state and federal facilities - you just reserve your campsite/zone and you're done. It'll obviously never happen, but wouldn't that be great?
 

Nick

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Your point about a pre-authorization brings up an idea a friend and I were tossing around a couple weeks ago - the Not An Idiot card. Wouldn't it be nice if you could skip the "bury your poop and don't walk on crypto" videos and lectures, and not hear horror stories about people getting nibbled by bears, etc? You'd have to complete some sort of certification, showing that you're a competent BC user with experience, knowledge, and skills, and you could get fast-laned into getting a permit. The NAIC would be good at all state and federal facilities - you just reserve your campsite/zone and you're done. It'll obviously never happen, but wouldn't that be great?

That's basically what the Zion Express Permit system is. You watch a couple of videos, talk to a ranger, and you get a pass good for 3 or 4 years that makes it so you don't have to go to the VC for your permits, just print them out online and head to the trailhead. Good for canyoneering as well as backpacking routes. It's great, and I would love to see it expanded or adapted into a broader system.
 

Joey

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I agree, however I'd hardly call Capitol Reef's system a good one. In-person only at the VC or the Anasazi Museum during often narrow business hours has proven to be a real pain in the ass for me. Given the usage, an extension of the GSENM permit system seems appropriate, at least for those willing to complete a pre-auth kind of like Zion's permit express. Zion, GTNP and Canyonlands all have good systems now. Yeah, fax machines are lame.
Really? I think its like the easiest place to pull a permit. It's free, your not competing with other backpackers, and you can camp anywhere. They usually seem confused when you ask them about a permit. Those other places all get a lot of use, and charge money.
 

Nick

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Really? I think its like the easiest place to pull a permit. It's free, your not competing with other backpackers, and you can camp anywhere. They usually seem confused when you ask them about a permit. Those other places all get a lot of use, and charge money.

Really. Largely due to the inconvenient hours and locations in which you can get one. If you're backpacking in the northern part of the park, I suppose it's not a huge deal, but if you're heading down south to Halls Creek or The Muley's, it can be pretty annoying. I'd rather pay for my permit and just go straight to the trailhead than deal with an hour or two of extra driving in the morning.

It is nice that you can camp anywhere though.
 

Joey

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I'd like to see a degree of standardization in our National Parks with respect to backcountry usage. Capitol Reef's system is great, while the Grand Canyon still uses a fax machine. Same thing with bear canisters - Grand Teton makes you bring a can, while Yellowstone requires you to hang it, despite sharing a border and having similar animals
But all those places are different. What might apply to one place wouldn't be ideal in another place.

That one small area of Grand Teton NP sees twice as many backpackers as all of Yellowstone does. Bears are completely different. Too many people in the Tetons, and the bears act differently around people there. You can't manage 2 completely different areas by the same set of rules.
 

Joey

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Really. Largely due to the inconvenient hours and locations in which you can get one. If you're backpacking in the northern part of the park, I suppose it's not a huge deal, but if you're heading down south to Halls Creek or The Muley's, it can be pretty annoying. I'd rather pay for my permit and just go straight to the trailhead than deal with an hour or two of extra driving in the morning.

It is nice that you can camp anywhere though.
I guess I've just always driven by the visitor center to head down towards Halls. I've never had an issue. If you could pay ahead of time to reserve a permit, sure. That would be ideal anywhere. But most parks still make you come in to pull a permit.
 

Nick

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I guess I've just always driven by the visitor center to head down towards Halls. I've never had an issue. If you could pay ahead of time to reserve a permit, sure. That would be ideal anywhere. But most parks still make you come in to pull a permit.

It's just an issue when the VC closes at 5:30 and you get off work in SLC at 4. I shouldn't bitch about it so much, it's just been annoying a couple times for me.

You're totally right, most parks still have you come in, I guess I've been spoiled by the GSENM permit system where I can just swing by a trailhead at any time day and night and fill one out. And the Zion Express system has been great at not going to the VC. Hell, even Canyonlands will let it slide in some circumstances like the last time I was there via jet boat.
 

Joey

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It's just an issue when the VC closes at 5:30 and you get off work in SLC at 4. I shouldn't bitch about it so much, it's just been annoying a couple times for me.

You're totally right, most parks still have you come in, I guess I've been spoiled by the GSENM permit system where I can just swing by a trailhead at any time day and night and fill one out. And the Zion Express system has been great at not going to the VC. Hell, even Canyonlands will let it slide in some circumstances like the last time I was there via jet boat.
I know what your saying. And yeah, pulling permits at the trailhead would be awesome. I haven't dealt with Zion in a long time, so I don't no about the express system. I really like that the Needles will let you write your own permit in the winter. But Island in the sky makes you come into Moab winter season. That's the one that irks me.

I've never seen a ranger on patrol in Capitol Reef. I'm sure they do, but I wouldn't sweat stealth camping there at all.
 

LarryBoy

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I know what your saying. And yeah, pulling permits at the trailhead would be awesome. I haven't dealt with Zion in a long time, so I don't no about the express system. I really like that the Needles will let you write your own permit in the winter. But Island in the sky makes you come into Moab winter season. That's the one that irks me.

I've never seen a ranger on patrol in Capitol Reef. I'm sure they do, but I wouldn't sweat stealth camping there at all.
I was down in Grand Gulch just last weekend - same thing. Just fill out your permit at the TH in the off-season. Problem with stealthing Capitol Reef isn't the ranger on the trail - it's the ranger who notices your car parked overnight at the TH! :)
 

LarryBoy

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It's great, and I would love to see it expanded or adapted into a broader system.
With you 100%. IF you know about crypto and flash flooding and waste disposal at Zion, you'll probably know about it anywhere else in the desert SW. And you'll probably know to stay below treeline during thunderstorms in Rocky Mtn Nat'l Park as well.
 
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