‘Bear’ Hangs, and Other Wilderness Faux Pas

Wilderness-mannersMany years ago, I was chewed out, quite rightly, not by a bear, but my wilderness instructor: “so, you’re going to hang a ‘bear’ are you?” when explaining back to him my food management for the night.

From outdoor skills to wilderness first aid, error is plentiful. Ever woke up to a mouse in your sleeping bag, after he’s chewed a hole in your tent, because you erroneously brought your toiletry bag in with you – along with one stick of pepperoni? That’s among the funnier side of what not to do or say when wilder-wandering. The not so funny is when your missteps or mistakes potentially put you, or others in harms way. The following three are quite notorious:

Back to the food in the tent topic and why is it such an issue? Well, it’s certainly not just about the mice; it’s about the rest of the food chain that could put you on it. Human food is bear food, and bears are well versed into our habits – especially our bad ones. An habituated bear is often a dead bear.

And then there’s the Trigger-happy crowd – and I don’t mean guns. We are a plugged-in society, and for many of us, feel quite naked when traveling without our tech gadgets. One of the main issues with newer trail technology is that we have not mastered the more fundamental basics, perhaps because we feel we can just hit that emergency button and Search & Rescue will take care of the rest. Don’t count on it! You don’t learn to read your Kindles before you’ve mastered your alphabet. Get educated. Take a basic outdoor survival course, and then by all means go out and purchase your SPOT (emergency location messaging device).

Leave No Trace, and it’s key principles*. This is not just about trail niceties, though trail manners do matter. Our wilderness parks and wild spaces are not just ours to behold, but is a legacy we will leave for following generations. It’s becoming a fragile state of affairs. A recent campsite on the Bowron Lake Circuit showed a tree that had recently been used for axe practice, another, a trail of trail-mix – seriously! The owner’s retort, while sipping back on the bottle of wine she had hiked in: “oh, the bag was leaking, but we’re going to pick that up – later”. We waited with abated breath that night, at the prospect of her little critter visits.

RockyPoint Outdoor Education teaches an array of wilderness courses, and are proud partners of Canadian Red Cross, 1% Planet and *Leave No Trace Canada (LNT). For more LNT information check out their web site: http://www.leavenotrace.ca/home


  1. Sounds like a WAC instructor to me. Always picky about students hanging bears. Enjoyed the post!

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