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Old 04-30-2009   #1
penguin's Avatar
Tahoe City, California
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 53
Managing bears (?) in Deso/Gray Canyons

Hey there,

Have a trip planned down Desolation Canyon on June 16th. I read a bit on this forum about bears on that river at a few places, so I have a couple of questions:

(a) Which places have had bear incidents?
(b) What's the best way of managing these dudes in this area? Are people using cannisters for food storage?

Regarding (b), where I live in the Sierra Nevada Mtns. we take bear management really seriously, in the neighborhood and backcountry. In the backcountry we now use bear cannisters (don't hang food anymore) and in the neighborhoods all garbage is in locked dumpsters. Most homes are emptied of food, too, and a number of precautions are taken to keep them from wanting to go into homes. We use paintball guns to keep them away, too, and many of them are trapped.

Thanks all in advance for any kind of reply!


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Old 04-30-2009   #2
Matty's Avatar
Silverthorne, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 213
Been down Deso 7 times never had a problem, although we have always been off prior to May 20th. We always put all our food away at night, but never took typical "bear" precautions, maybe others have had different experiences?

I don't think the heavy stuff is gonna come down for quite a while.
~Carl Spackler
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Old 05-01-2009   #3
Palisade, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 292
I think there was one incident that got everybody all crazy about bears in deso a few years back, a funny incident too. some NOLS kid wanted dreads, so he put honey in his hair, and while he was sleeping the bear pulled him out of his sleeping bag by his head...

yea, keep a clean camp, and don't smear food all over yourself. I don't even think you'll need to put little bells on your shoelaces (that the bears might or might not be able to hear).
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Old 05-01-2009   #4
Westminster, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 514
I haven't seen any, but my wife had seen bears a couple times when she was guiding. Banging some pots & pans scared them away. I had heard the honey storey as OB rather than NOLS and with the added detail that he had wandered away from the group to make his camp, but that's the only actual incident I've ever heard of.

It's definately not as bad as in the Sierra. is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-01-2009   #5
Denver via GJ, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 333
I could see how it may be more of a problem early on when the bears first come out of hibernation, but by that time you would hope the bears have enough natural food sources. Just don't keep any food in your tent and pick up after yourself each night and I would guess you would be fine.
"I plan to leisurely advance through my existence" - Terry Fuhrman 1991
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Old 05-01-2009   #6
rideon's Avatar
Chico, California
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 148
Sage advice...

Originally Posted by peak View Post
yea, keep a clean camp, and don't smear food all over yourself.
Too true. That is my quote for the day for sure!
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Old 05-01-2009   #7
Highlands Ranch, CO Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 482
My buddy had a very interesting beer encounter a couple years ago in deso.

I don't know the exact location, but a bear was coming into camp and taking all of their dry bags and eating them, he came back for one more which turns out was my friend sleeping in his bivy sack.

So he woke up to a bear jumping up and down on him, the thing that saved the day was his friend brought a laser pointer and shot the bear in the eye with it.

It was only the 2 of them doing a self support kayak and canoe trip. So they had to go wonder through the night trying to find their gear, which they did end up recovering quite a bit of it but the bear made short work on most of their food.
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Old 05-01-2009   #8
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Steamboat Springs, CO
Paddling Since: 1995
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Posts: 213
Is it so frickin hard to get sharks with lasers on thier heads!!
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Old 05-01-2009   #9
Aspen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 377
I've done Deso/Grey twice with no problems but I know a guy who was bitten through his tent wall on the arm. They left the camp and left a note for the next group to be bear aware. Someone in that group was bitten on the leg. I think that bear was put down. This happened 7/8 years ago I'm guessing.
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Old 05-01-2009   #10
penguin's Avatar
Tahoe City, California
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 53
Thanks everybody. This is about what I figured: basic precautions. In the Sierras we've learned to be armed with capcacin spray, paintball guns, etc. because bears (and the people who inadvertantly fed them with garbage) have created a really bad situation of dependancy.


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