Making my summer plans..grizzly bear country!

7:12 a.m. on January 26, 2014 (EST)
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I am in the process of deciding where I am going to spend my first whole summer in many years backpacking and day hiking all summer, from June to September. I am considering the Gros Ventre Wilderness area of northwestern Wyoming east of Jackson Hole. I am tired of paying fees to hike on permits, even at $5 a night it gets expense when I live on a tight budget. This summer I plan to have about $2000 to live on from mid May to Mid September, part of which is going to pay rent of $350 a month in the town of Jackson. Just that alone will cost me just over $1000, leaving me the other $1000 for food and other expenses.

My only problem with that part of the world is "bears". I plan to leave my gear in base camp style, where I leave my tent and other camping gear behind in area's while I roam the high country surrounding it. I will  hang my food. I don't plan to take canisters into the backcountry because of the extra weigh and bulk in my small 50 liter pack. I plan to hang it in tree's with rope lines. A practice I am used to in bear country.

But even still I have had one too many bear encounters in places like Alaska,California,Montana and in Wyoming, where even though I did hang my food or used bear resistant food containers. The encounters were mild on my part aside from the fact that the bears raided my tent looking for food. I have never kept food in my tent but some un-experienced backpackers do and the bears learn that tents can mean food. 

While on a hike in the very same area I plan to make my summer wilderness home a young grizzly bear raided the camp that a friend and I had made at a area around Goodwin Lake at near 9000'. We had properly hung our food bags up and away from anything and went on a day hike. When we returned in the afternoon my dome tent was torn apart from something.  The tent had the door zipper torn away and the roof was ripped and a hole made in the back of the tent like a new door.

Turned out to have been by a young grizzly bear. We found this out the next morning when while still in the tent awake but just laying there and my friend half asleep, I was laying with my head propped up reading when all of a sudden the small bear walked into camp, sniffed at the camp fire, looked around then started for the open door of the tent. I remember thinking surely this is the animal that was here yesterday. It walked right up to the tent and would have come in without knocking (how rude!), had I not said something to it. Upon hearing my voice it ran away and down into the wilderness the same way we had found some of our gear strewn the afternoon before when we first discovered the raided campsite. 

My friend and I got up immediately and went down the way the bear had gone looking to see if it was still around. It was long gone. But we chose to break camp and head back to Jackson. I had a tent to repair or replace and we didn't want to encounter this bear again. That was in 1996 during June or July.

So anyway my plan is to find high country places in the wilderness of the Gros Ventre Range to make base camps and do lots of everyday day hikes, moving my camp every few days to a week to new areas and returning to  Jackson to resupply and load my pictures from my camera to my laptop and come to www.Trailspace.com and post trip reports, and email other friend and relatives about the same.

I plan to leave southwest Utah in mid May where I have been since April last spring and go by my bicycle to St George Utah the other side of Zion Nat Park and take a couple different shuttles to Wyoming. I will get my bike broken down and boxed to take with me.

I will move back into the place I have lived at a old friends house in Jackson over the years, paying him the $350 a month rent. I plan to hang out in town for a couple weeks perhaps till early June, then one day heading into the wilderness and spending the summer in the peace and quiet of nature.

In mid September I may seek work in Jackson for the winter or most likely head south to southern Arizona for a warm winter or further hiking.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. 
John Muir

9:42 p.m. on January 30, 2014 (EST)
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I've never seen Grizzly sign in the Gros Ventre, they sure have expanded their range in more recent years. They've been seen almost all the way down to South Pass. I have finally seen them in the last few years in the Tetons and Wind Rivers. Seen a few Blackies between Goodwin and the Ski Cabin and over on Leeds Creek off Union Pass area. They're seeing Grizz up the GV River Valley. Sow and cub were on Elk Refuge this past fall, first sighting there in almost 20 years.

I see Grizzlies quite often in the Absaroka, got charged by a massive boar near the very southern end of the Buffalo Plateau in July 2012. Only time I've used my Bearspray outside of trying to chase off Blackies on the Ranch. Love my airhorn but some bears have gotten habituated to them in the Frontcountry. 

I don't cowboy camp in Grizzly Country anymore, tent seems to create enough scary mystery for them in my experience. 

Let me know if I can help you this summer if I can keep my job.

12:18 a.m. on January 31, 2014 (EST)
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If you can keep your job? What do you do? You live in Jackson? I will be renting close to the Snow King Lodge on east Snow King from Bill Briggs but thinking only till late June, then just living out of my pack and in the mountains till September.

4:27 p.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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Kid,

Most people can't even spell "Krumholz."

Thanks for the run down on griz sign in the Gros Ventre Range.

It is interesting that you mentioned the Buffalo Plateau in the Absaroka Range. We were packing horses thru there in 1988 during the Yellowstone Fires. A 1/4 mile section of the trail was taken out by a rock slide, probably from an earthquake. After spending 2 1/2 hours taking the horses on foot across the slide, I remember vividly the country north of there. It had bear sign all over it.  I was carrying a large caliber rifle on my saddle, but had reins in the left hand and a lead rope in the right hand. It was downright exciting.

After that Woodward Cyn.Ever heard of it?  Probably only visited by sheep hunters. Waterfalls, flowers in bloom, a nice creek and two pretty girls wearing nothing at all. We built a sweat lodge. Those were the days.

 

7:05 p.m. on February 6, 2014 (EST)
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ppine said: A 1/4 mile section of the trail was taken out by a rock slide, probably from an earthquake. 

I have been in the Teton Wilderness and during a heavy rain fall seen rock and mud flows travel down a mountainside like a dirt avalanche and come to cover the trail in a matter of minutes to a depth of 3-5 feet. Later upon coming back the same way the debri flow had settled and had made a large area to be detoured. When it was happening it was traveling down the shallow slope so slowly the tree's in its path were being uprooted and knocked down, tree's with diameters of 1-2 feet.

In the Tetons in late summer when the rains have passed one can find many such rock and tree avalanches on many trails.

7:51 p.m. on February 8, 2014 (EST)
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I horse packed the Teton Wilderness fairly extensively from 'the mid 70s to mid 80s and a little bit in the 2000s. I love hiking up on the Divide North [East] of Bonneville Pass. I have been through Woodard Canyon but long ago. Want to get back there and on up towards Hidden Creek. 

11:28 p.m. on February 8, 2014 (EST)
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The Teton Wilderness is Kayla's favorite summer hangout. She usually goes to Turpin Meadows and the to the Soda Fork area then Bridger Lake and Two Ocean Pass.

9:19 a.m. on February 9, 2014 (EST)
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One option to avoid encounters at your camp while you are away is to hang your camp. What are we talking about really here? A tent, cook kit,  sleeping bag and food. Most other items I assume you would have with you on your day hikes. It may be a bit of a hassle to break camp down every morning and set it back up later, but if your really worried then either pack it all with you or hang your camp. Its not that hard to do, either use your main pack and bring along a smaller day pack to use, or bring a small tarp or a heavy duty trash bag etc to put everything in and just hang it as normal.

2:42 p.m. on February 9, 2014 (EST)
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That is most likely what I will do, I was thinking on this just last evening Rambler. When I was on the road last winter in 29 Palms CA I would break camp everyday as where I was was not safe to leave my gear and all my possessions behind, too many two legged creatures four wheeling and walking around.

I was thinking I would rather tear down mornings and reset up evenings than to leave it all out for wildlife no matter how big or small to investigate. Just the Marmots, ground Squirrels, Chipmunks and other small game can chew their way inside. A bear could make my newest tent a tornado site in a matter of moments trying to find edibles, as the one did in these same mountains in 1996.

Most of the time I will be at treeline and should be able to find tree's tall enough to string my food and gear high enough for even the most curious bears. I can pack a large trash bag just for this purpose, I often carry one just as a weather proof inner bag in my pack. 

I am so looking forward to the summer as I have not taken one off in many years since the early 1980's.  I am used to working summers and taking the rest of the other seasons off. I may even look for work in Jackson Hole next fall and stay the winter to continue my outdoor adventures and make JH my retirement home. That was the original plan 34 years ago when I started making it my summer home, then I got tired of it and moved to new horizons. Now I am homesick for the one place I worked the most and played as often.

11:48 a.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
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Gar,

Used a different image posting site lets see if this works:

[IMG]http://i59.tinypic.com/29bivq.jpg[/IMG]

Edit: Link works. Palmer peak is the highest looking peak here just right of center a bit, taken from the southern crest of the Granite Hi-Line Trail.

11:58 a.m. on February 13, 2014 (EST)
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Here's Palmer much closer from the Trail between Swift and Shoal Creeks.

[IMG]http://i59.tinypic.com/w1yxx2.jpg[/IMG]

4:06 a.m. on February 14, 2014 (EST)
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Well, I hope to summit it this summer. I have about 75 more work days till my vacation. I am now planning to leave here in late April coming to spend May to sometime in September hiking and biking JH. Then heading south back to the southwest in Utah, Arizona maybe New Mexico,Texas. I will not be looking for work again until late May 2015 maybe back in JH as its been about 5 years since working there.

This past year of work is only the 5-6th time since 1977 that I have worked year round. I have been used to working an average of 4 months a year since then. My travel expenses are so cheap at about $300 a month for food and minor bicycle repairs that I can live on as little as $2700 a year when not working.

I will be in JH in early May so maybe one day while at the library we can meet Krumholz Kid. 

5:33 p.m. on February 19, 2014 (EST)
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Bear spray is great stuff. I bring firearms but mostly to help me sleep at night.

9:46 a.m. on February 20, 2014 (EST)
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Yes, I used bear spray in Alaska and have carried it in the Teton Wilderness near Yellowstone. In Alaska everyone in the field carries a gun. 

11:24 a.m. on February 21, 2014 (EST)
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If you have a a shotgun or at least shot shells for your handgun not such a bad idea, otherwise without an incredibly heavy, and ultimately impractical high caliber weapon guns are pretty much dead weight when it comes to apex predators like grizzlies with skulls half a foot thick. The Alaska Department of F&G did a great study CLEARLY demonstrating that Bear Spray is the sanest choice.

3:26 p.m. on February 21, 2014 (EST)
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My brother shot a Yukon Brown Bear in NW Canada and said the outfitter told him to aim at the eye's. The bears skull was shattered. 

I do not carry firearms outdoors. I have hunted with a slingshot and thrown rocks at birds and tree rodents quite well. I have not owned or shot a gun in the 41 years since high school.

Bear spray is effective but as I learned one should practice with it before having to use it. And some animals seem unaffected  by it, as a porcupine in GTNP showed me. It kept coming back even after being sprayed in the face. I fianlly just moved my camp out of its grazing area.

12:24 p.m. on February 23, 2014 (EST)
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Kid,

Bears have heavy bones but their skulls are not "a half a foot thick." More like an inch, or less but that is plenty to stop many handgun rounds. Forget shot shells in a handgun as they are too light.

We can agree about bear spray. Firearms make a lot more sense after close up encounters with large bear at 40 yards in the heavy forests of SE Alaska. Rifles and shotguns are preferred, or a handgun of at least .44 mag.

 

2:18 p.m. on February 23, 2014 (EST)
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That's what most Alaskan's carry a .44 mag. When I cycled across Alaska in 2006 everyone I met on ATV's and hunters had a pistol and said I was foolish not to have one. I had no encounters with bears closer than 40 yards off the highway. The mosquito's and black flies were the only things I had to deal with. On the days it rained the millions of rain drops were far better than the number of bugs.

Its been a heavy winter in Jackson this year so maybe the bugs will be out tour de force.

10:44 a.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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Now there are some bigger pistol calibers which are becoming popular like:

.454 Casull, .460 S&W, .500 S&W, and the Linebaughs.

7:41 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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With all due respect I've seen a Grizzly skull that thick. Wicki/"Answers" says 3-4". 45 years or so ago someone I know shot a grizzly with 6 44's to the head and there were 6 bullets embedded across it's forehead and the bear was only brought down with a heart- lung shot from a shotgun at very close range.

Gary, what was your brother shooting? I'd weigh heavy odds it was not a conventional caliber. Carry whatever you want to people, SERIOUSLY suggest you look at the Alaska F&G study unequivocally supporting the benefits of bear spray vs. firearms. In terms of escaping personal injury more than 90% success with Bear spray, less than 60% with firearms.

9:26 p.m. on February 24, 2014 (EST)
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LIke I said he shot the bear straight through one eye, the back of the skull has totally shattered. the bear with the bullets in its forehead , man that's a hell of a headache. Raging afterwards of not it was the painkiller to ease its suffering had it survived.

I have had only one close encounter with a young grizzly at Goodwin lake in the Gros Ventre Wilderness in 1996. It walked into my camp early one morning and would have waltzed right into my tent had I not spoken to it. The day before it had torn my tent apart looking for anything edible while I was off on a day hike.

In Yosemite a black bear and I were on the same switchback trail near Mirror lake and it stepped off the side of the trail and let me pass. I was just as seemily started by it as it was.

October 21, 2014
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