Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bear Fight Club

When we first reached the Dorst Creek campground, we had a lot of instruction on bears.   Specifically the North American Black Bears that call the park home.

"The (North) American black bear (Ursus americanus) is a medium-sized bear native to North America. It is the continent's smallest and most common bear species. Black bears are omnivores with their diets varying greatly depending on season and location. They typically live in largely forested areas, but do leave forests in search of food. Sometimes they become attracted to human communities because of the immediate availability of food. The American black bear is listed by the IUCN as Least Concern, due to the species' widespread distribution and a large global population estimated to be twice that of all other bear species combined. Along with the brown bear, it is one of only two of the eight modern bear species not considered globally threatened with extinction by the IUCN. American black bears often mark trees using their teeth and claws as a form of communication with other bears, a behavior common to many species of bears.[1]"

We learned we had to store all of our food in our bear box.  That big brown metal box right there in the picture below, that's our bear box.

Image frivolously stolen from

We had to stick all of our food, three ice chests and anything with a fragrance including: sun block, scented tissues, all soaps/shampoos etc. in the bear box.  We couldn't even have any of that stuff in our car!

Not our car, but damage was done by a black bear.  Poor car!
Bears have been apparently attacking cars for food since, well, their were cars with food in them.

Image frivolously stolen from the Mother Nature Network-

Basically everything but our clothes needed to be in the bear box.  Heck even our trash and our recyclables needed to be placed in bear-proof containers.  And can I take just a second to applied the national parks service for providing recycle specific bear proof bins?? How awesome are they!!!  

That box looks pretty small doesn't it? Especially considering we were 8 people using just the one box.  Heck, we had an entire cooler only dedicated to beer for the guys!  What this meant for us, is unpacking and repacking just about everything in the bear box EVERY.DAMN.TIME we needed something.  I'm not exaggerating here.  We must have unpacked and repacked that damn box over 100 times in just the 5 days we were there.  What we learned from this? Get a group spot when you have more than 4 people so you have more than one bear box at your disposal.  It will save your sanity.  And your back.  And keep you from campers rage.  True story.  

On our very first night, the wonderful Canadian couple who was staying at the very next campsite over told us they'd seen a bear wandering through their camp early the previous morning.  So, I guess the quick run-down of what to do in case we do, in fact, come across a bear made a bit more sense.  And for the record, not only do the park rangers run down bear rules with us, but they're posted. In the bathroom.  Above the mirror.

The first rule of bear fight club is don't talk about bear fight club... er, I mean.  The first rule with bears is DON'T RUN.  I don't know that I can emphasize this enough.  When you run you become, PREY.  You do not want to be PREY.  Bears chase PREY.  Bear maul PREY.  Then bears eat PREY.  Not to be mistaken for pray.. which you should do liberally if you happen to come across a bear in the middle of the night on your way to the bathroom.  Not that I did, but it's good to have a plan.

The second rule is don't try to take anything from the bear.  I laughed when I read this one.  So if a bear wanders into your camp and steals your beer, you let him have it.  Honestly, trying to take your beer back from a bear is a bad idea.  Beer Stealing Bears are Bad. Say that five times fast! I dare ya!  No, I double dog dare ya! HA!

And, if you're afraid of the bear, make a lot of noise.  Bang pots they say - you know, the ones in the bear box.  Yell at the bear to go away.  We told the Tweedles to make sure they yell "BEAR" really loud so that other campers will know it's a bear that's the problem and come help them/us.  Of course, I'm not sure anyone other than me could tell the difference between their normal screaming at the top of their lungs because they're having just so much fun, and screaming because they're scared of a bear.  But hey, I like to have a plan, or at least seem like I do.  Self delusions are good.

Turns out that none of these bear fight club rules were used on our little trip.  That's not to say we didn't see a few bears on our trip. We saw four in fact, although 3 of them were on the side of the road as we drove by and I didn't get a photo.  So really I have no proof of those 3 and you probably don't believe me without proof.  But I know in my heart I saw them and I don't care what you think.  Not really.  Okay, I care, but I'm going to pretend I don't.

But the fourth bear?  That one I do have proof of.  After our hike to Muir Grove Sunday morning, we decided to head over to Lodge Pole Market & Gift Shop to stock up on some low food supplies (read: beer) and just as we were leaving the camp grounds to the main road, we saw this little fella in the meadow.

This isn't the greatest shot, but there was a park ranger standing beside the road to make sure people didn't block the road with their cars and to keep us from wandering down into the meadow to become an extra crunchy snack for the bear.  We're not allowed to feed the bears after all.  Not even ourselves.  We all got out of the car and an elderly couple who was also bear watching lent The Tweedles their binoculars so they could get a better look at the bear.  (Thank you nice elderly couple!)  Our first bear sighting!  We were all so excited.  And this little guy?  He just kept munching away despite all the paparazzi.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

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