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Yesterday we opened the door and walked outside.  And we just kept walking.  Ended up going about 2 miles down the Rock Creek canyon.  One slow car passed us as we walked along the narrow creek-side country road.  There we found an old homestead originally settled by an African american woman in 1894!  It has recently been restored by the forest service.

While wandering around the 300+ acres of the old homestead we experienced a Trifecta of Wildlife Viewing
1.  A fox came trotting toward us casually headed to the creek.  Once we were seen, the casual pace changed to a swift dash in the other direction.
 
2.  About 20 minutes later, walking along the creek, we spotted a black bear grazing on the other side.  We watched it bumble along for a time, before we were spotted.  The bear became very alert and scampered straight up the slope away from the creek and the unexpected humans.
3.  Then, when heading back toward the old homestead cabin, we spotted an eagle’s nest in one of the clusters of tall cottonwood trees.  With at least 2 babies.
It was a delightful day in the sun.
On the walk back we looked up at the cliffs and noticed the bighorn sheep were watching us.  I didn’t count them in the Trifecta since we see them all the time. (and I didn’t know what to call a 4 x viewing.  Quadra-fecta sounds a little forced.)

It was quite a rich wildlife day, even by Montana standards.  I returned later in the day to do some fly fishing.  After all, it is Rock Creek.

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In my book I talk about a bear bag made of high tech fabric, but I never mention the actual manufacturer, except in the gear table at the end of the chapter.  What was I thinking?  In the next edition I’ll fix that problem.  In the mean time here’s the info.  It’s called an Ursack. fieldtest_gcnp_mike1

 

The current model is made of white spectra 29.   These bags are intended to be secured to a tree or log at ground level, merely to keep the critter from hauling your food away.  I have never had a bag molested that I could tell.  But, I keep a clean camp.  The bag should be put no nearer your camp than you would want a bear.above_tree

 

For the most part, I figure I’m keeping smaller animals away from my food, like mice, raccoons, and other small mammals.  I have an older larger version of the bag, which is visible in the snow phot below.  It handles food for two people on a week long trip.  The newer ones, at 650 cubic inches, are about half the size of mine.pic-6-3

 

Ursack is trying to get approval for use in Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks, and Inyo National Forest; all habituated bear areas.  In these areas bear canisters are required by law.  The Ursack was acceptable for a period time and then in January 2008, that approval was withdrawn and only hard sided canisters were allowed.  Ursack is challenging that decision.  For more on this click here.  

I stay in areas where the bears remain wild and have been very happy to use the Ursack instead of the old hanging method or a much heavier and bulkier hard sided canister.  I only use the sack itself without optional aluminum liner, which adds 14 oz to the package.  Alone the 650 cubic inch bag weights less than 8 oz.  The Bear Vault BV500 a popular 700 cubic inch canister weights 2 lbs 9 oz.  So even if you use the aluminum liner you’re still 1 lb. 3 oz ahead of the game.bv500

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