[cdt-l] Mapsource US Topo 100 & Pepper Spray?

Jonathan Ley jonathan at phlumf.com
Mon Apr 2 00:50:43 CDT 2007

Funny, I actually bought and read Herrero's book in East Glacier,
immediately before setting out on the CDT. I agree it can wig you out a
bit... but I guess you have to keep in mind that the number of actual
backcountry attacks compared to the number of backcountry travelers is quite
low, and many of those could have been prevented by smarter behavior by the
humans involved. In other cases, there was simply nothing that could be
done. Anyway, it's a good book. 

I wrote up the following page to kind of summarize my thoughts on the CDT
wrt/ bears & bears in general. It's mostly one person's opinion though, and
not meant to substitute for one's own personal research.

Another interesting tidbit; one of the people I hiked with had a mishap with
his pepper spray where the safety came loose. He later bent over and sprayed
himself all over his hip belt. The contact burning (which lasted through a
few rainstorms) and embarrassment were bad enough, but he also prudently
hung his pack each night as it probably stunk like a hot pepper sandwich to
a curious bear. Just another warning to make sure you're familiar with your
pepper spray's operation if you choose to carry it. I added a secondary
duct-tape safety to mine that I could rip off in half a second. 


-----Original Message-----

Pepper Spray:

I've read Stephen Herrero's book three times, along
with every other published book about grizzlies (and
black bears).  All that reading leaves one with a
clearer understanding of extremely individualistic and
intelligent animals.  Herrero's case studies
illustrate that the use of pepper spray has shown to
be a double-edged sword.  Case studies show that
pepper spray has saved lives during some encounters,
but have also shown spray to be completely ineffective
(even a 12-gauge shotgun has shown to be
ineffective!).  Yet another set of cases have shown
that grizzlies tend to be curious about the scent of
pepper spray in the can and may enter a camp to
investigate.  The bottom line is that no one really
knows whether pepper spray is the best thing to have,
but most experts say it's probably better to have it
than not to have it.  Just know that there is a slight
chance that the bears may actually be interested in
its scent.....the only proven deterrent to grizzly
attacks are closeknit groups on foot (not in camp)
numbering four or more, and people mounted on
horseback.  (There is one documented case of a griz
attacking a sleeping camper sleeping
shoulder-to-shoulder with 8 or more adults.  They were
sleeping in the open without tents; you are much safer
inside a tent.)

The book is really good, but it can also really wig
you out.  Maybe not the best thing for getting a good
night's sleep in Glacier, one of the places in the US
with the most grizzly fatalities.  But if you can keep
in mind how rare these attacks are, then there is a
lot to learn from the book regarding bear body
language and behavior.


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