Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Bear Bags: What Not to Do

Spring means hungry bears, so I wanted to make sure that we were ready to hang our food to prevent any surprise visits from Yogi late at night.  I watched a couple of videos on how to hang a bear bag using the PCT method.  Basically, you use a small bag with a weight (like a rock) tied to the paracord, throw it over a branch that is about 20 feet off the ground.  Then you take off the small bag, attach your bear bag with a carbiner and run the rope through the carbiner as well, pull the bag so it's at the branch, tie a stick to the rope with a clove hitch then lower the the bag.  The stick let's the bag hang between the branch and the ground.  Easy Peasy. 
So we threw the rope over the branch (after many tries).  We attached the bag, ran the rope through the carbiner and tied the stick to the rope with a clove hitch.  But the bag wouldn't move up or down. 

So here my mom and I were, on the side of the road trying to get my brand new dry sack out of the tree.  First we tried using a broom and a hiking stick to grab the bag and pull it down.  Should have been a piece of cake, but we couldn't get a good grip on the bag.  It was about this time that I also realized the tree was covered with poison ivy vines. 

Eventually, we had no choice but to get a ladder, climb up and retrieve the bag. 
So here's what I learned:
1. Look for poison ivy vines on the tree before you throw your bag.
2. Pick a tree that doesn't have large cracks between the bark because your paracord will get caught in them.
3. Make sure your bag is sufficiently weighted so gravity will help you out and you don't have to carry a ladder with you.
4. Practice hanging a bear bag somewhere away from other people and not on a road where every one can see you screw up.
5. Hope that there are bear cables where you're stopping so you don't need to worry about getting all your food caught in a tree in the woods without a ladder.

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