Ever wonder how to tell if there are bears in the area? One way is to look at the trees in the area. If you see claw marks like these on some of the trees you can be pretty sure they're there. Even more reason to use proper food storage methods. You'll find more on that subject below.



1989 was my best year for hiking ever, and to finish it off I was on a hike up the Merced River to its headwaters. Starting the Saturday before Columbus Day, my first day involved a 2000 ft climb from Yosemite Valley to the far end of Little Yosemite Valley. The next day I proceeded up canyon to Washburn Lake where I made camp at the outlet of the lake. In October it gets dark earlier than in the summer, so I had my food hung from the Cables before 7:00. Shortly afterwards I heard a slight noise. Looking around I spotted a bear with not one cub, but three little ones. I promptly started to yell and make as much noise as I could while I made my way to a pile or small rocks I had made. I began throwing these rocks in the general direction of the bears. The general direction is the best I can do, as I never was a good throw. I managed to drive the bears back, but mom, after leaving the cubs below, tried to circle around through the bushes to try and get some food. After a few more rocks she decided to leave. After reading a book awhile I settled down in my sleeping bag to look for Satellites and shooting stars. About 9:00 I may have just fallen asleep, but hearing a noise, I looked to my side, spotting the three cubs about 20 ft away. Yelling at them they quickly left. Realizing that mom wasn't with them I looked around and spotted her by the cables, seeing if she could get my food. Yelling and throwing rocks I was able to driver her off.

The next day I hiked up to the Triple Creek Fork Area. After waking up at 1:00 with a coating of Ice on my sleeping bag I decided it was getting too late in the year for me to go higher, so the next day I headed back the way I had come, camping at Merced Lake High Sierra Camp. Again, at 7:00 PM here came mom and the three cubs. I was a bit surprised about this since there were bear boxes (metal boxes for food storage) there. I had no problem driving her off this time. At 9:00 I heard a noise while laying in my sleeping bag. I look up and mom was about 10 feet away, sniffing around the fire pit. I yelled once and she walked off. A few minutes later the cubs came down off some rocks and I yelled at them, causing them to promptly climb the nearest tree. I stopped yelling and crawled back in my sleeping bag, listening to the cubs call at mom a few times before they made their way down.


Two of the stupidest things I have heard are; 1- I heard a bear in the tree and when I got up in the morning my food was gone. What do you expect, you gave the bear plenty of time to figure out how to get it, if you had chased the bear off you would still have your food. 2 - I met a guy who was sleeping on the ground in his sleeping bad. He told me he woke up and saw a bear standing over his head, so he slid down in his bag. To this all I can say is, "Do your really think a sleeping bag is going to protect you. You should have yelled at the bear and chased if off." It is people like this that have helped create the problem in the parks. They don't know what they are doing, and don't listen to what the rangers tell them. Instead, they believe all the bull that they see in the movies. GET WITH IT PEOPLE. If you are going to go into the wilderness, get educated. Enough of that, I'm here to help you, to teach you.


The first thing to remember when you go hiking is that you have to use safe food storage methods. Places like Yosemite how rent food canisters to store your food in. They are cheap and I recommend them. Yosemite rents them at several loactions. I'm not a big fan of them as they don't hold enough food for long hikes however, the rules in Yosmite pretty much requires them. When you leave you car at the trail head make sure you don't leave any ice chest or boxes in you car. Better yet, don't leave anything at all that has a smell, as bears have a good sense of smell. If you want to know why, take a look at this picture. Several of the trailheads in Yosmite now have bear boxes to store food in while you're out hiking.


Many people make a pile of small rocks that they can use to throw at the bear is one should decide to make an attempt on you food. Make sure you don't throw them at the head, only the body. I have talked to others that have had good results using this method. They lost food one night but the next night they pelted the bear with rocks and had no problems after that. I firmly believe that if you act aggressive in protecting your food, that you will have less problems with that bear. They know that there are easier ways of getting food. If you do act aggressive that bear may think twice about trying to get a campers food the next time.


SierraWildBear.gov - The main source for National Parks, forest and Public lands in the Sierras

Food storage in Yosmite