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Attention Campers: Need Advice

  • There was a lady killed and partially consumed by a black bear in Ouray a few years ago. According to some friends that live in the area there may have been extenuating circumstances with respect to that attack however.

  • Learn to read moran. My advice is on the front page.

    Sorry that you feel attacked for giving dumb advice.....

    I lived in the mountains, not the front range, and hunted, backpacked, skied the backcountry, kayaked and mountain biked all over the, yeah, I know something about the backcountry. I was also paid to lead people on backcountry trips, so my training and experience is more than that of a weekend warrior like yourself.

    Still waiting for you to explain why the OP needs to carry a "snake bite kit" (whatever that is) and a .44 magnum while backpacking in the high country.

    The irony of your comments is that you're the one who sounds like they've never been on an extended backpacking trip.

    "No one cares what you know, until they know how much you care." Mark Dantonio

  • and what did you use the pepper spray for? seasoning your steak?

    "No one cares what you know, until they know how much you care." Mark Dantonio

  • Please link to a news story of anyone in the last ten years being struck by a rattlesnake in the mountains of Colorado.

    "No one cares what you know, until they know how much you care." Mark Dantonio

  • Finally, some sanity in the thread.

    I lived at 9,000 feet for 20 years and saw only two cats in all that time. Once, while walking to cool off at the end of a trail run I had an eerie feeling and turned around. Sure enough, there was a mountain lion creeping down the trail behind me. I gave him a big yell, jumped up and down with my hands above my head and he took off like I'd shot at him (or her).

    My scariest wildlife interaction was actually with a couple of bighorn sheep on a side hill trail, but that's another story.

    "No one cares what you know, until they know how much you care." Mark Dantonio

  • FIJI239 81

    Good call regarding a sidearm. Especially if it's a multi-day trip and you are alone. Ruger .357 works for me. I've done more than half of the 14ers some of them solo. On a solo 4-day trip last year to climb Kit Carson/Challenger, I camped at Willow Lake. Two guys outbound said it was crawling with aggressive black bears. I had the bear spray but no weapon. In the middle of the night I was grateful all it took to chase one off was activating an ACR strobe.

    I was alone that night; if I was with a large group it would not have been that bad, but that was one trip where I wish I had not left the weapon in the car trunk at the trailhead. Probability of using it? Almost zero, last resort with bears, but I carry almost always when I am alone. Not so sure how useful that would be with lions - I've only seen one in CO, and it was when other guys were glassing it on an opposite draw. I'm sure they've been close to me without me having a clue.

  • spartanNTX

    Yeah, from what I hear the killer bear was a female who caught the lady screwing her mate in their cave with their cubs sleeping nearby. It was a heat of the moment type thing

  • Bear was after your food, not you. Far more important than a sidearm is to pack your food in a bear canister or bring some parachute cord to hang your food between trees. A bear canister is better because hanging food is much more of a pain than it seems and there are no trees above tree line.

    Bears have an incredible sense of smell. They will detect even small amounts of food and shed your tent or pack to get it. This is bad for you (obviously) and the bear, because the bear will start to learn it can get food from humans. Over time it will develop into a problem bear and be put down by the forest service.

  • Wow this thread is full of swinging big dicks carrying a firearm in the backcountry, lol. You're more likely to need the firearm to ward off some crazy lunatic at the traihead than a freaking cougar or bear. Only place I'd even think of carrying a firearm for animal protection would be Alaska. Grizzlies in high density are one thing, but black bears and cougars? Come on.

    Wear your bear bell, string your food up and/or carry a bear canister (packed well away from your camp at night) and you have like a 1 in 100,0000 chance of running into an aggressive bear. Notice I said "aggressive". The vast majority of black and brown bears are going to be freaked the hell out by you and will run away. Don't startle them (what the bell is for) and don't keep food in your campsite and you'll be fine. If you're really paranoid buy the $50 bear mace and keep it around your neck, then when you run into a full on mother bear protecting her cubs in the mulberry glade you'll spray her and she'll run the hell away.

    No cougar in the wild is going to attack any full grown man unless that man is Peter Dinklage. I'm serious, a 60lb cougar is not going to try and even think about taking down a 120lb man. If for some crazy reason it does, your hiking pole or knife if more than enough to ward it off, no damn reason to carry a piece out in the woods to protect against a big cat.

    Occasionally here in Washington we see a story of a hiker attacked by a cougar, and it's always a little old lady hiking alone or a family hiking and it jumped on one of the kids but only managed to cut up the kid a bit before dad scared it off. Mountain Lions aren't really Lions, they aren't going to attack full grown, healthy people and take them out with one bite to the jugular.

    Only reason I'd carry a gun in the backcountry is if I wanted to do some shooting or I was hiking through some meth heads turf.

    As for OP, get some good rain gear, some chafe free synthetic boxers, some gold bond just in case, some good bourbon, lighweight backpack, tent, sleeping bag and mat (could get all for $400 or so and use it for backpacking the next 10 years) and join your buddies for a helluva time.

    Trust me, if you're only gonna bring gold bond and some nice synthetic boxers or the firearm, go with the stuff that will keep you nuts comfy!

    This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by urbancryer88 10 months ago

  • That would be a tiny cougar. Average males are twice that size, and even females check in around 90 lbs.

  • An arguement on the internet is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine so this will be my last response to this sub topic in the thread.

    First I can admit when I am wrong. I was wrong you did post some advice on page 1 so I stand corrected.

    Second a Snake Bite Kit can be purchased at any camping or survival store. Weight is few ounces but is worth it if you like being prepared for things. I am surprised that such an accomplished backpacker such as yourself has no idea what to do in the event of a snake bite even though I admit the odds of it happening are not really high.

    If you choose to go through life not being prepared then that is your perogative please feel free to ignore me going forward. I have a personal philosophy that people are responsible for thier own protection in all things, not everyone has the same philosophy. The fact you picked out two preparedness items from my advice as dumb is fine you don't have to take it, but I practice it for enjoying the backcountry. I do hope however you are at least bringing an avalanche beacon when in the backcountry skiing. I know that is a pretty unlikely event as well, maybe you don't even bother to check the snow condition who knows. You know us "flatlanders" from Denver don't know shit because we don't live in the "mountains".

    Some of us chose to be prepared for some of the more deadly albeit less likely events when camping, backpacking, hunting, and just enjoying what our great state has to offer. All of which I have been doing for the past 20 years here in Colorado and hunting in NW Wyoming for the past few years. Can you go through life an never have it hit the fan so to speak in the backcountry? Absolutely but that is not how I prepare for my vacations even if its just a weekend warrior vacation. Although I do spend two weeks of my vacation most every year hiking and camping in the back country.

    I thank god that I have never been biten by a snake (I have seen a few) fortunately you can avoid them usually if you are paying attention. Also the closest I have ever been to a bear attack was hunting in Wyoming and coming up on a Grizzly who was on a gut/bone pile from a kill the day before (the kill was my hunting partners). Fortunately the Grizzly was more interested in the gut pile than a couple of armed hunters backing away and getting out of Dodge. I have however used my firearm as a noise maker to scare a couple of black bears off in Colorado but I doubt I was in mortal danger at the time. If I had thought I was then I would have killed the bear instead and dealt with the consequences later. There are definately other ways to deal with bears but I have a firearm, and its easy to carry both over clothing and concealed so that is what I do for my own protection. I do have a permit for that and its illegal to carry concealed in the State of Colorado off of your property or outside of your vehicle so I don't suggest conceal carry without a permit. It is useful while hiking day trips though to keep it out of the eyes of all the other hikers. No need for a scene when its not warrented.

    The scariest animal encounter I have ever had was not with a Bear or a snake but a Cow Moose and her calf in Grand Country and that was one of the few times I have not had a firearm when off the beaten path.

    Anyway if you think my advice is stupid that is fine but it is the advice I gave OP and he can take it or leave it. But it is advice I will stand by, if you are going to be going into nature you should be prepared to be in nature and all she brings with her. There are predators in nature and if you are not prepared for them then its your ass not mine.

  • and a tiny man. i've taken shits that weigh that much.

  • I'm glad I stayed out of this thread. lol

  • Christ, I can't be the only one who wants to hear the story behind that.

  • And I can't be the only one who's wondering what a NY style taco is.

  • FIJI239 81

    Way ahead of you. Canister was 40m away, suspended in a lodgepole pine nowhere near my pitch site, which in turn was deliberately at least 100m from the area - not developed campsites - where others often stay closer to the water.. Pack was up there also. The only thing in the tent was me, the bag, few clothes, water, and a stuff sack with a light, strobe, knife, the pepper gas, and a SHTF Nalgene. Heard some commotion from the lakeside sites. A few minutes Yogi is outside my tent - and thankfully he freaked when I activated the strobe.

    By the way, I'm not going to speculate what a 350-400# black bear is going to do. If I'm not messing with him I should be left alone. And it's not the size of bears, either. They are a hell of lot stronger than me or you, pound for pound. A guy from Rockford a few years ago was car camping just N of Yellowstone along Soda Creek in the Gallatin NF. I was downstream from him that same week. This poor bastard followed all the rules and was eaten alive in his tent in a developed National Forest campground by an undernourished 216# griz sow (the thing had a horrible parasitic infestation and her cubs were undersized).

    The attack happened at night. There were no previous problem bear reports. Other nearby campers scared the bear off. It was on him a few minutes later.

    The Interagency Investigation Report concluded, among other highlights, at p13:

    "Food storage regulations were in effect in the campground and metal food storage boxes were available at each campsite. There was no evidence of food attractants being available at any of the sites where attacks took place. There was no evidence of improper food storage problems anywhere in the campground at the time of the attacks or prior to the attacks, nor was there evidence that bears obtained garbage or human foods in the campground in 2010. There were no prior reports of bear/human conflicts in 2010 except for the bluff charge during a surprise encounter with a jogger (Elaine Sabo) along Highway 212 near Silver Gate. There were no reports of problems with bears obtaining human foods in the campground or in the Cooke City area in 2010."

    You can read it here:

    and take a look at the local news assessment (realistic BTW):

    This bear was smaller than most black bears. Blaming humans is bullshit. I''ll take my chances in the middle of the night with an option to use a firearm and a tactical light if I'm attacked. It's my option, and I don't think walking around with a cowbell does anything else but signal " it's dinnertime." Those things are useless in open country or in the wind, and likewise in compartmented terrain. I do agree and adhere to the Bear Spray concept as one - maybe the first - option but urban hipsters like our pal urbancrver can do what they want/ I'm carrying when and if I want to.

    This post was edited by FIJI239 81 10 months ago

  • So, basically, you carry a handgun because you think it makes you safer? Lowers your risk on a backcountry trip?

    Well, your logic is flawed as I am sure if you did some research you would learn that handguns are much more dangerous than bears, rattlesnakes or mountain lions.

    I wonder what the total deaths due handgun accidents in N. America was last year versus the total deaths caused by bears, mountain lions and snakes?

    I apologize for saying your advice was stupid. I obviously just don't agree with it.

    "No one cares what you know, until they know how much you care." Mark Dantonio

  • What I said earlier deserves repeating...borrow as much gear as you can. People have nice bags, packs, stoves, just gathering dust in their garages. Craigslist too - it could be fun - its little gadgets like tiny little pizza ovens that can make backpacking fun.

  • For small items that can really add to the enjoyment of a trip in the backcountry, I would suggest getting a good pair of binoculars. They can be used for star-gazing and obviously for wildlife viewing. "Glassing" a hillside or meadow before you approach it can often lead to critter sightings that you would probably have missed with the naked eye.

    "No one cares what you know, until they know how much you care." Mark Dantonio

  • and be smart...gloves are great but if you do not expect huge cold and extra pair of sox and double as gloves and or potholders. Dental floss can be an emergency shoe lace - I really recommend checking out Backpacker magazines website - tons of advice on everything from bears to gear to food.

    You will be a hero if bring some cool food other than freeze dried stuff. Also a great way to save money is to premix your own little meals. That prepackaged stuff can get real pricey if that's all you are eating for a week.

  • Some good advice but also a lot of fail in this thread.

    Send me a PM if you really want a decent backpacking pack list. We're taking the whole family up the AT this summer... just finished the individual weight assessments and finalizing the packlist last week.

    ...and no, we're not taking a gun.

  • OP stayed away from this thread after his first post. lol

    Just in case he is still reading, please bring ibuprofen. It'll thin your blood and help with the altitude sickness you are likely to get. Drink water whenever you can.

    For gear, my rule is to put everything you want to bring in a pile, then cut the pile in half. Doing this would also ensure a handgun never makes it on a trip (outside of Alaska)... Different strokes for different folks.

    This post was edited by Johnny Alpamayo 10 months ago

  • MurphyGreen

    what section are you hiking?

    I did Springer to Franklin then got tendinitis and had to get off.

    Going back in 2 wks starting in Harpers Ferry and heading up to Hanover. We'll see how it goes.

    We are the SPARTANS and They are NOT!!! [spartan 2]

  • the info seems solid to me. what else would you add to the list besides ways to go super-light, which one would assume is your goal if the whole family will be out for an extended trip......