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Backpack Camping: Don't Feed The Bears

Aug 17, 2007
Backpack camping in North America is one of the greatest adventures you can experience. The plethora of trail backpacking and backpack tours that you can take advantage of make it an ideal way to enjoy nature.

With awe-inspiring scenery and exciting trails, you can be sure that backpack camping will be something you will remember for a lifetime. Be careful, though. As enjoyable as it might be, look for the possible dangers that surround you during your backpack camping adventure.

The United States and Canada are home to a wide variety of wildlife. Many backpack tours are specifically geared towards giving tourists an up close view of these animals. Trail backpacking on your own will also bring you into contact with much of the wildlife as well - and some of these encounters are ones you may not want.

Bears are North America's largest and most unpredictable predator. You can find bears in the northernmost tip of Canada and Alaska to as far as the deep South of the United States. While bear attacks are considered rare, they still happen and you have to be prepared should you find yourself in this situation.

There are three basic reasons that cause of bear attacks while trail backpacking or during backpacking tours: One - the bear is caught by surprise; two - you've run into a female bear with cubs; three - the bear smells food near you.

Backpacking through the woods and staying as quiet as you can sounds like a great idea. After all, you want to see the wildlife before it runs away, right? Howver, unless you're hunting, moving through bear territory quietly while trail backpacking can be dangerous.

If you should suddenly appear in front of a bear at close range, the bear is going to be startled and angry. Make noise, talk, sing, or rattle cow bells as you hike to give the bear fair warning that you are in its territory. The bear will hear you and move off. The denser the area, the more noise you need to make. Bears have very poor eyesight, and they won't see you coming through dense underbrush.

Bears can be a cute animal no matter what their size. Bear cubs appear adorable and cuddly and you might even have the urge to pet the beautiful adult bears. Unfortunately, bear cubs and bears are something you need to stay away from.

If you encounter them during your backpacking tour - stay away! Adult bears are highly protective of their cubs and they will charge you if you approach them. Be assured that the cubs are not lost. Their mama is always keeping watch over them.

A backpacking tour might take you a few days, so your trip will include camping overnight. Bears might not be able to see very well, but they have an amazing sense of smell and they will definitely sniff out any food that you have with you.

If you have food hidden anywhere in your gear or tent, they will find it. To help keep them away from your campsite, hang the food in a tree at least fifteen feet off the ground away from the campsite. Be sure to hang it in the middle of a branch where a climbing bear won't be able to get to it.

Taking some extra precautions during your backpack camping excursion will only add to your excitement and good memories. Knowing the dangers that you could possibly encounter could be a life-saving technique. If you have any doubts about the safety of something in the wilderness, always err on the side of caution and stay away from it.
About the Author
Learn to love the journey of backpack camping from Mike Selvon's backpacking portal, and leave a comment at our backpacking blog.
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