Leave no trace for the bears to notice

On a recent overnight trip to Fryingpan Lakes, my husband and I had to do something neither of us have ever done before in years of backpacking: We hiked out in the middle of the night because of a bear in our camp.

Around 11 p.m. we heard a loud crash — the kind you know deep in your nerve endings isn’t a deer — and when we got out of the tent we saw a large black bear 30 feet from our tent. We were able to scare it back another 50 feet, where it remained despite close to an hour of yelling, throwing things, banging our trekking poles, etc.

This is the unusual behavior of a very habituated bear and we decided we needed to pack up and get out of there. We did everything you’re supposed to do — we didn’t eat near our tent and we hung our food and toiletries away from our camp. This situation, however, was likely the unfortunate cumulative result of irresponsible human behavior in this area.

We urge all backcountry travelers to be mindful of their impact on wildlife and other visitors. Keep a clean camp. Hang your food. Use a bear bag or a bear canister. Don’t gut fish near camps. Hopefully we can all work together to stop this kind of bear behavior. I sure don’t ever want to hike out of a campsite at midnight again.

Shaina Maytum