Low-down on bears in San Gorgonio Wilderness

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Low-down on bears in San Gorgonio Wilderness

Postby simonov » Mon Jan 14, 2008 7:35 pm

Some background: I was a San Gorgonio Wilderness Volunteer Ranger in 1989-91 or so, and I never once heard of bears bothering backpackers. Sure, they were down in the car camping and populated areas rummaging through the garbage, but up in the high country they were never an issue. Never. No one ever bear-bagged, and bear canisters were for the Sierras.

Now I read this: http://www.sgwa.org/bearbag.htm

So I would like to get the straight dope from experienced San Gorgonio backpackers: is there now really a problem with bears getting into backpackers' food, a problem that has appeared only in the last fifteen years? Can anyone tell me if this is something really to be concerned about or is it official ass-covering?

I'm not saying it's impossible, I just want the truth. I'll give you an example of why (aside from my earlier experience) I am skeptical: when I was a volunteer, we were advised to advise visitors to treat the water from springs and high creeks, and so we did. However, I never, ever met a volunteer who treated his own water. We had never heard of a real case of giardia or anything like that contracted from spring or high creek water. We all filled our bladders right from the springs, whatever we told the visitors.

So I am wondering whether this bear business is more of the same thing.

One of the many advantages of hiking the San Bernardinos vs the Sierras was you didn't have to worry about bear-bagging or bear canisters. I really hope this hasn't changed.
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Postby phydeux » Mon Jan 14, 2008 8:04 pm

I've never seen a bear in the SGW, but have seen evidence of them: on the Forsee Creek trail, on the Vivian Creek Trail, and down the Mineshaft Flat/Big Tree trail. The usual evidence is footprints or small tuffs of coarse hair stuck on bushes or trees. To prevent bear problems I just hang my food and cooking stuff up in a tree. Never had a problem.
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Postby AlanK » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:02 am

There was a spate of bear stories on the SGW pages about 4 years ago. If you post there, you may get some of the Forest Falls residents to chime in on how often they get raided.

My impression agrees with phydeux -- there are bears but they are not a big problem. Of course I would protect my food appropriately.
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Postby Hikin_Jim » Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:40 am

I've done multiple backpacks in the SGW. No bear problems whatsoever (also no probs in SG or SJ mtns). I have seen posts about bear problems at Halfway on the Vivian Creek Trail.

I do bear bag with an Ursack, but that's for rodents as much as it is for bears. I've got a bear canister, but that's for the Sierra where the bears are really a problem.

I also don't bother in the SGW to do the bear triangle style of camping (eat in one location, store food in another location, camp in a third location, all about 100yds apart in a rough triangle with the tent upwind of the other two locations; the scouts refer to this as the "bearmuda triangle").
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Postby KathyW » Tue Jan 15, 2008 1:42 pm

I've seen solo bears a number of times along the Vivian Creek Trail and 4 bears together along the South Fork Trail. For a while there was a very aggressive bear in the area of the Momyer Trail, but I never got to see him/her. I have not seen the bears getting peoples food but I have seen the ripped backpacks that food was left in and the trash the bears left behind after getting into human food. One day when I was picking up a permit in the Mill Creek Ranger Station, the lady working the counter told me that a bear had just been shot by the rangers.

So, yes bears are out there. I bring my bear canister with me when I backpack in the San Gorgonio Wilderness. The bears probably get more human food from the developed campgrounds and cabins in the area than from backpackers, but I just don't want to be part of the reason a bear gets shot.
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