Out on the trail I saw plenty of bears. And there’s all kinds of advice now where you’re supposed to hoist your bag up in a tree, or spray stuff to mask your smell, piss in a ring? You name it.
I slept with my food in my tent every night. And I knew a ton of folks who did the same! People’d say it was crazy now, but we did it. And the whole time, believe it or not, not a single bear in a tent.
The only guy I ever knew to get bit by a bear was in his tent, sleeping. And the bear bit him straight through the tent! We found out later he was a segment hiker – just in for one night. Not doing the whole trail, and he wasn’t sleeping with his food! But he was slathered in coconut shea-butter lotion. Must’ve smelled pretty tasty.
Maggie hiked the Appalachian Trail (The AT) in Spring to Fall of 2004. She took the South-to-North Route, passing over 2,200 miles of wilderness trail.
Bears are a nuisance along the AT, as they are attracted to human activity because of the prospect of food. They are dramatically overpopulated along the trail, especially in the Smoky Mountain region.
This is a cute story which emphasizes an important reminder – that proper food storage, which contains smell, will prevent bear attraction. However, use of scented cosmetic products is just as bad, and can lead to hikers being bitten or attacked!
In that sense, this is is a warning tale!