The first thing I noticed at the campsite was this rope.
Something I've seen many places, including places like Yosemite.
Some people never figure out how to hang rope in the tree in
order to keep their food safe from bears. First of all you need
to have a decent length of rope. I tell people that 50ft is the
minimum, but I prefer longer, say 75ft. Tie a fist sized rock
to the rope and throw it over a limb. If you're holding onto
the end of the rope there is a good chance it will just wrap
around the limb and then you've got a real problem. The best
way is to let the rope go till it hits the ground. Then if you
don't like its position try again. There is a big difference
in the recommended distances from the trunk of the tree to the
rope for places here in Minnesota, and places like Yosemite.
I prefer to use distances greater than recommended in this state.
You can also get away with tying all your food on the end of
the rope and pulling it up in the tree before tying the other
end to another tree. Try that in places like Yosemite and you'll
lose your food. The bear will simply see the rope tied to the
tree and take a swipe at it, either breaking it or pulling your
food down. In Yosemite you can now only hang your food in about
20% of the park with canisters required in most areas. For those
areas where you can hang the food you'd place 2/3 of your food
in a bag and tie it to the rope before hauling it all the way
up in a limb at least 25 feet up. Then tie the other 1/3 as high
up in the other end of the rope before looping the remaining
rope up and hanging it from the bag. Then push it up in the tree.
Before you do this make a loop in the end of the rope so that
you'll have something to snag with your stick. If the food you
first pulled up in the tree isn't heavy enough you'll have problems
pushing the remaining food up.
One thing to remember. If a bear tries to get your food
you need to try to chase it off. Otherwise the bear will have
all night to figure out how to get it. Many people gather a pile
of small rocks within throwing distance of the food tree and
then use them to pelt the side of the bear. I have a pretty bad
throw but others have told me this works really good. I've never
had a problem chasing a bear off except for the time I didn't
see the cub in the tree behind me. As you can see I'm still alive
although it did growl at me once, and did fake a charge.
As a general rule I don't hang food from trees with long
pine needles. The bark seems to be too soft and the rope can
dig into it, getting stuck. This can cause a bit of panic if
its starting to get dark and you need to start all over. This
is one reason I try to have my food hung 1/2 an hour before it
gets dark. Don't use the bag your tent or sleeping back are packed
in. If the bear does get your food those bags will be ripped
up. You also don't want to transfer food smells from those bags
to your sleeping bag or tent! Do so and you might have a close
encounter with a bear when you're in the tent.