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Bear Note: Trail Posts as itching sticks, and cranky bears | High Sierra Backpacker

Bear Note: Trail Posts as itching sticks, and cranky bears


Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 04 March 2011

It appears to me that there is such a thing as "cranky bears."

  Most times the bears are breaking trail posts by using them as itching sticks. If you follow the trail guide for any length at all, you will see examples of broken trail posts along the trail.  But there are other times it appears that the bears are intentionally taking them down. These are the bears I designate as "cranky bears."

Sometimes the bears take down trail posts on purpose, other times while scratching their backs.

Above: Bear-broken trail post just South of Echo Summit.

In some areas the local bears decide that they don't like anything human in their territory. They then proceed to constantly rip up every trail post the trail crews put up.

Other Examples

Summit City Creek Canyon trail junction

Boulder Lake-PCT trail junction



 The Carson-Iceberg Wilderness experienced this type of bear damage in and along the East Carson River, including the Golden and Murray trail junctions on the Pacific Crest Trail, for years.


The bears even started targeting the Soda Springs Ranger Station until they put up a solar-powered electric fence around it. 

 They would put up a trail sign post, and the bears would quickly take it down. Seriously!!

In recent years the Carson-Iceberg has switched to STEEL posts that have the destinations cut into them.

 The Steel Trail Post.
Above: Steel trail post in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness. Is this the future of trail posts?


Problem Solved!

At least for the bears who use trail posts as itching sticks. These steel trail posts will be reliable itching sticks, where the wood versions always broke while the bears were trying to use them.

I figure that the grumpy bears are still going to try to  push and pull these steel signs out of the ground. I can't wait to see how these efforts decorate the posts. I'm looking forward to see if the bears can bend if not break them.

Yosemite Steel Trail Signs

 See the steel trail sign posts beginning at Yosemite National Park at Bond Pass for Yosemite's solution to bears not liking us leaving things in their land. 

The steel trail signs we instituted during the early 1950s due to bear damage-destruction of all previous attempts to sign trails.

In  Yosemite: the Park and its Resources (1987) by Linda W. Greene, specifically page 771 about the steel cut trail signs installation.

Green also notes the historical use of licence plate nailed to trees. These cut sections of licence plates from between the 1930s and 40s are still visible in Jack Main Canyon  below our turn Southeast at Wilmer Lake hiking South down the canyon to Hetch Hetchy.

They have, amazingly, held the color of their paint over the decades.

Check out the entrance into Yosemite National Park at Bond Pass to see Yosemite's steel solution to bears not liking us leaving things in their land.
 

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