12 November 2014

Bears Scare The Crap Out Of Me!

Warning sign that bears like to break into cars - Camp 4, Yosemite National Park
Bears scare the crap out of me. Have you ever seen one? I'm kind of torn - I really want to see one, but only from a safe distance and encased in some sort of bear-proof tank-like vehicle. We've been spending time in bear country lately and I have yet to see one. Which is a good thing as we're driving a 1995 Nissan Pathfinder, not a bear-proof tank. 

You might be thinking that I'm a bit of a sissy, but the places we've been to lately have signs up that say things like, "Caution: Active Bear Area!" And if you weren't scared enough by the bears themselves, they tell you that "Proper food storage is the law!" So now, you have to worry about the park police throwing you in jail for not putting all of your food into the bear-proof boxes located around the park.

If that wasn't enough to scare the crap out of you, take a moment to read the notices posted at the campgrounds. I saw one recently at the Sentinel campground in Kings Canyon National Park which reported a recent incidient where a bear broke into a National Park Service employee's house through a window in search of food. Two people were in the house at the time. A house! A house with solid walls! Keep in mind, we're sleeping in a tent in the same area. A tent made out of not so solid walls.

And the other day at the Potwisha campground in Sequoia National Park, the ranger told us a bear had been roaming around the previous night, grabbed a cooler and left a lot of teeth marks in it. Again, we were sleeping in a tent with walls made out of material designed to keep the rain out, not bears out. 

Maybe I'm a bit paranoid. Maybe not. We saw this car at the Road's End parking area in the Kings Canyon National Park. My guess - a bear tore the cover off the spare tire. Clearly, they had chocolate chip cookies in their vehicle and the bear wanted them. I can relate.

Did bears destroy this spare tire cover at Kings Canyon National Park?
And then we saw these bear claw marks on a bench along the Zumwalt Meadows loop walk in Kings Canyon National Park. Okay, maybe it was stupid kids trying to etch their names in the bench, but then again maybe it was a bear. We carry bear spray with us, but knowing my luck, a bear will come at us and I'll panic while pulling out the canister and spray the bear with the wind going in completely the wrong direction and end up spraying myself. The bear will laugh, grab my chocolate chip cookies and scamper off to tell his buddies about yet another stupid human whose opposable thumb turned out to be of no use. 

"Evidence" of bear claw marks on a park bench at Kings Canyon National Park
Want to know more about bears and food storage - check out what the National Park Service has to say here.


  1. It's been a pretty bad year for bears due to the drought. People think it's okay to leave food containers and ice chests in plain view in their vehicles. This is a bad idea. Bears know what those are. Follow the food storage guidelines and you should be okay.

    Oh, and speaking of bears breaking into buildings, it really does happen. One of my forestry instructors told a lively tale of a bear that fell through the roof of a summer camp dining hall and discovered the fry oil. The bear drank several gallons of oil then got diarrhea all over the place and escaped the building. The camp staff had a nasty surprise when they went to open the place up in the spring.

    1. What an amazing bear story! Are you studying forestry? That would be quite interesting - would love to know more.

      We've been quite diligent about following the food storage guidelines, but it is the other people you have to worry about who get bears used to eating and wanting people food.


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