Just took off Deso yesterday and was shocked at the # of bear problems every group we encountered had. After floating for years we had never had camp problems until now. This trip we only had one camp encounter at the Upper Wire Fence Camp. It was a medium sized cinnamon colored black bear that swam across the river to enter our camp. It appears to be feeding heavily on the Skunk Berry:
Skunkbush (Squawbush; Sumac; Skunkbrush Sumac) - Arches National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
There a ton of these berries upstream of the camp and scat was everywhere. Rangers had an encounter with the bear at the camp just days before. It is curious by not aggressive at all. It ran from us when we grouped up and banged pots and pans and blew our whistles. It never swam back across the river and instead hunkered down in some thickets where the cliff pinches off by the river. It never returned after the initial encounter at 4 pm that afternoon.
Every group we passed and met at the takeout had multiple camp encounters that spanned the river from Jack Creek downriver. All had similar safe outcomes.
Please keep a clean camp, secure food, lockup you groover at night and secure trash (we hung ours from a tree). These bears seem to be acting wild and are not aggressive or accustomed to food yet. If we keep it that way they may survive the season.
Mosquittos were moderate to Cedar Ridge. We used our Original Bug Shirt at dusk and dawn a few hours a day. The Thermacell lantern we used helped eliminate most around dinner. That said, even the young boy on our trip who refused to wear long pants only ended up with 45 bites the first 2 days. A reliable seasoned source said the last bad year was 2011 with the 40k-ish floods and said this year was a 2 or 3 out of 10. The biting flies were out in moderate levels from Cedar Ridge downriver.
6k-7k seems to be a great level. Only saw 3 groups between Day 1 and Poverty, then we all collided as usual the last day.
Be bear smart and have a great summer in Deso.