He's back at it!

People who know me know that I belong on the Trail. I've thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail (twice),the Pacific Crest Trail and the mighty Continental Divide Trail. I've hiked many of the long trails here in Michigan including being the first to hike both the Ironwood Trail and the Great Lake To Lake Trail. My next big adventure will be the Israel National Trail starting in February 2017.

The purpose of this blog is to keep anyone who is interested informed of my progress and to encourage those who are able to support me in this endeavor.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bears

Before I go on a rant about bears, I need some help. I need people to click on that 'donate' button! I've got about 900 miles left on this crazy hike and no cash to mail food and gear. Any help, even a few bucks, is much appreciated.

Now, about those bears: Haven't seen ANY this whole hike. No black bears, no grizzlies. This reinforces my belief that the only thing worse than bears is bear-a-noia. One of the most common topics among CDT hikers seems to center around wether or not to carry bear spray. I carried a small pepper spray on the AT but never used it. I've gone without this whole hike until my dear friend Trish Drent forced me to carry a can of spray. I'm surprised that even some of the truly ultra-light guys are 'spending' 10 ounces or more on a can of bear spray. I'm just not convinced that it's worth it. There are signs that claim there are now 500 grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Think about how big an area that actually is and it becomes clear why I haven't seen one. Yet. 

I spent last night cowboy camping (no tent) on the bank of a river in an area supposedly populated by grizzly bears. Slept like a rock. I noticed this morning that people had been fishing and cleaning fish nearby. Still didn't bother me. Until I see some statistics or some solid data that convinces me otherwise, I'll continue to disregard warnings about bears. 

Disagree with me? Want to warn me about bears? Leave me a comment below!

The beard is getting out of control. 

Osprey are everywhere! This nest had two young birds just learning to fly. 

I'm scheduled to speak again at the Dearborn Heights Library. Details soon.

Cowboy camping in bear country. Doesn't bother me. 

My super moon rising above the Madison Range. 

25 comments:

Valerie Parent said...

Do what makes you feel comfortable.

kcwins said...

Dude! I could tell you story after story. I spend time in the GYE at least twice a year. Until 2008 I didn't bother to carry it either. It only takes one bad encounter to change your mind. The NPS relocates "problem bears" between GTNP and YNP. Trust me, they WILL take the easiest path of resistance from time to time. Thats the same trail you're traveling. I have a close friend who has over 200 bag nights in Glacier and Yellowstone and he can tell you stories that will raise the hair on your back. Hope it all works out for you.

Marlyss said...

Listen to kcwins. :)

Libby said...

With so many unknowns when your hiking why risk something that is known? I second the motion to listen to kcwins. Just sayin.

Trish Drent said...

EXACTLY.

Christopher Hillier said...

Good advice and thank you for posting, Valerie. Since carrying the extra weight of bear spray makes me literally UNcomfortable, I'll consider this a vote for no bear spray.

Christopher Hillier said...

Kcwins - I can see the sincerity in your words and I appreciate you posting but I need more to convince me. I'm a numbers kinda guy - do you have any statistics or studies that show I'm at risk? I'd even settle for strong anecdotal evidence - have you ever been attacked? Has your friend? Please reply. - I'm seriously interested in your answer. Thank you.

Christopher Hillier said...

Marlyss, I know and trust you but you also wanted me to carry vitamins. You want me to carry too much stuff!

Christopher Hillier said...

I also know and trust Libby Shaw but to answer the question "Why risk it?", it's because of the weight. The canister is like a small fire extinguisher and it weighs a ton! Well, maybe not an actual ton...

Christopher Hillier said...

And to my dear friend Trish: please don't hate me but I lost the bear spray you gave me. I'm sorry! I kept leaving outside my pack because I was worried that, with no safety pin, I would set it off. I realized it after lunch one day and it was too far to go back for it. Sorry!

Roberta McCoy said...

Look in the mirror... I see a bear...

Christopher Hillier said...

I know! This stupid beard and long hair have got to go. I usually hit a barber shop when I get into a town and have them shave it all off but it just wasn't in the budget for this hike. When I get home, I'll be clean cut. Thanks for posting, Roberta!

Lisa K said...

When the bears eat you, can I have your kit? ;)

Christopher Hillier said...

Kaboom, you are the best. I would give you the (clawed and torn) shirt off my back.

Ilyse Denike said...

It didn't seem to post my comment so I'll try again.. I'm interested in numbers too! I am preparing to backpack parts of Colorado next month, and was trying to find some information but did not come up with much. I wish you luck on the trail, Chris!

Christopher Hillier said...

Thanks, Ilyse! Colorado was beautiful but very difficult for me. It was still pretty early in the season. I'm sure you will have a much better time. Regarding bears, the few articles that I've found just don't seem to indicate that they are a big risk. A bear attack is certainly possible but not very probable. Please let me know if you end up carrying spray. I'd be curious.

kcwins said...

You have no issues in CO. Black bears only. No big deal. The GYE and Glacier are totally different! Numbers and stories to come.

kcwins said...

Here is a story I wrote last July.

"My entire body hurts today. Having trouble walking. Most of the skin on my hind legs is gone. Fell 50 feet straight down a rocky ravine. Lost control of my body. Then had to bushwack another 2000 ft down that ravine thru thick vegetation. Then had to navigate thick thick forest in the dark backcountry, with tons of downfall. Finally reached where I wanted to camp at 1030pm. Total darkness. Went to set up my tent, and caught a grizzly bear watching me from 40 feet away. Had to climb a tree, while he circled me for hours, breaking every branch and tree he could. And by climb a tree, I mean shimmy up between 2 trees, then hold on to nobs as I hugged the tree vertically, with blood dripping down my legs. There was no sitting on branches. After several hours, I grew tired and couldn't hold on anymore. Went down and set up my tent, the bear had left. Woke up the next morning and spent 2 hours trying to find the trail, spent 1 hour trying to cross moose creek's waste deep super fast flow, which almost swept me away, and then hiked out another 18 miles to get out of the woods just before dark. Didn't see a person for 5 days, spent 4 days off trail creating my own mountain routes, climbed several peaks that rarely get visited, and witnesses some of the most spectacular, rugged country in all the land."

I've had a few encounters and will work on other stories and numbers.

Christopher Hillier said...

Holy cow! That sounds terrifying! So many questions: What trail were you on? Did you try loud noises/throwing anything at it? How long did it stay? I take it you would have used bear spray if you had it. More stories, please!

sunsets said...

Better safe than sorry...remember.....you are looked up to! Bells and spray!

Parnell said...

The Parnell's visited with Chris about 15 miles north of Butte, Mt yesterday morning. What a nice guy. He is doing great as he continues to trek north and wanted us to post this to let you know that he looks just fine. We live here in Butte and have yet to see a bear, although others have, in all our 60 plus years in THIS area.

Christopher Hillier said...

The Parnell's are the best! What a sweet couple. They just pulled over to ask if I needed anything. They wound up providing me with great conversation, some reading material and food for thought. Thanks for leaving a comment, Parnell's!

Heugels said...

Chris. We really have enjoyed your journey so far. We have followed you from Michigan until now. Thanks for the postings and the wonderful pictures. You are a courageous man and get to see such wonderful scenery. Keep up the good work. We are Gary Z Grandparents and enjoy your postings. Almost there. Godspeed Chris!!

Christopher Hillier said...

Thank you so much for posting! Gary is a fine young man and I truly miss hiking with him. Keep following the blog to see if I make it to Canada!

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