View Full Version : #24 Report and Warning

David Knapp
04-24-2009, 10:28 AM
With a few days off from teaching, I decided to pack in to #24 for two nights and then head up to #30 for the last night. Wednesday afternoon found me in the park heading up the trail from Elkmont. I arrived near sundown and after setting up camp and eating supper, I got to bed early.

The next day was going to be a long one. I wanted to hit up Fish Camp Prong on day one and wanted to explore into sections I haven't fished yet. I got a reasonably early start although not too early. The water was cool enough that there isn't much point in getting on the water at sunrise.


I wanted to get the Fish Camp "slam" so I started on the lower portion and fished my way up. It was slow for awhile until I saw a few yellow stoneflies hatching and tied on a Neversink Caddis. Almost immediately I was into fish including several rainbows and the first brown. The brown having been caught, I got back out on the trail and started upstream to look for brookies.



After walking for awhile, I got back in and started fishing. The action was really inconsistent and I spent most of the day switching back and forth between the Neversink Caddis, a Parachute Adams, and a double nymph rig. The fish would turn on to one pattern for awhile and then it would just go dead...really strange.


After finally picking up a tiny brookie to complete the slam, I headed back down and decided to fish up LR from the Goshen Prong trail bridge to #24. I got in at the bridge and started working upstream and things really started picking up. The fish were loving just about any dry now so I was having a great time. Several pools yielded 3-4 fish with some being fairly nice sized. Finally I could see the orange of my tent and was somewhat relieved. A long day of fishing will make you tired and ready for a good hot meal.

As I climbed the bank towards my tent, I did a double take. Something didn't look right with my tent. As I got closer, I saw that the pools were either bent or broken and then I saw several gashes in the tent. Upon closer inspection, it seems a bear decided it would be fun to tear up my tent while I was gone. One of the webbing stake loops was ripped completely off the tent (the tent itself being what actually broke) and 2 out of 3 pools were broken and the third was bent. One broken poll had punctured the poll sleeve and made a large gash in the tent itself. There was some sort of moisture (bear slobber?) on the side of the tent along with some mud.

Apparently, some moron decided to bury some trash very close to the spot that I happened to pitch my tent. The bear had dug it all up and then apparently walked over to my tent and tried to climb it or something. Please, if you are going to do a backcountry trip, PACK IT IN, PACK IT BACK OUT...

Based on where the polls were broke, it looked like the bear tried to lay down on the tent. It was still semi-standing but it won't be any good to me. Thankfully the bear didn't go so far as to get inside and chew up my sleeping bag and thermarest so I guess there is a bright side...

I decided to pack everything up and head out. On the way down, no more than 300 yards below the camp, I saw a good sized bear that showed absolutely no fear at all of me. I clapped and waved trying to make it run off but it just stared at me. Since it didn't seem aggressive, I snapped a couple of pictures and then hustled on down the trail.


Anyway, I ran into a guy from the wildlife divison on the way down (hunting pigs) and let him know what happened. He said #24 would probably be closed in the next day or two so if you're planning on a trip up there, check to see if its closed first...

04-24-2009, 10:40 AM
Glad to hear the fishing was good, but sorry to hear about your gear. Be thankful he showed up when you weren't there.

04-24-2009, 01:27 PM
I got an email from the park service this morning that indeed #24 has been closed due to bear activity. I get these all the time but have never got to hear the story behind "activity". Sorry about your tent, better that you though. Campsite 93 was also on the closure list.

04-24-2009, 03:52 PM
Sorry to hear about your tent, that will definitely put a damper on your trip. Like you said though, on the bright side you still have most of your gear and even brighter you weren't around when he came.

It both confuses and enrages me that someone would do something like that period, let alone right beside a tent where someone is obviously staying. My guess is that someone just wasn't educated about things like that or else they wouldn't have done it. I mean who in their right mind would do that having knowledge of bears and the outdoors in general. Not only is it disrespectful to the environment, but it endangers others as well.

I know that it is pretty much impossible, but i really wish the park service would take a harsher stance towards people who do this. I know this would require more people to employ to catch those who do things like this which requires more money (and we all know money is a scarce commodity these days), but they should really throw the book at people who do, dare i say, stupid things like that. Something like that could potentially cost someone their life and is simply inexcusable.

I guess i should chalk it up to it being someone that was simply uneducated about the backcountry and the ethics that go with it, but it wouldn't surprise me at all to find out it was someone who simply didn't care, that's the frustrating part.

04-24-2009, 04:30 PM
Good report and sorry about the tent. I agree with everything said about uneducated or lazy backpacker/campers. They are the root of a lot of problems for the park, park service, and guests of the park. Unfortunately there cannot be someone eyeballing every activity in the park to stop things like this from happening and it is hard to educate everyone.

04-24-2009, 08:25 PM
Wow, glad you were ok. They say don't bring spray, but I may anyway...That's just too dangerous.

04-24-2009, 08:51 PM
Plateau Angler,

We were there Friday and Saturday. We did not see any bear, although my friend Steve said something pushed on him twice about 3:30 AM on Saturday morning. There were several people there on Friday night, but just a group of really strange teenagers there on Saturday night. If coming into 24 from Elkmont, which site did you pick? We usually stay in the second site on the right, but that was taken when we got there on Friday.

Glad you were gone when he/she showed up. Last year I went up once and had to stay at Elkmont because 24 was closed. I asked the ranger what happened. He said a bear decided he liked a groups dinner more than they did. He also said they did not get to return to their campsite that night.

David Knapp
04-24-2009, 11:46 PM
Don, I stayed in the first site. Someone was set up in the second one when I got there Wednesday evening. I almost moved the tent over to the second site Thursday morning. Makes me wonder if things would have happened differently if I had...

04-25-2009, 07:32 AM
Glad to hear you're okay PA.

With the tourist season ramping up....something tells me we have not seen or heard the last of this bear. I hope I'm wrong.

04-25-2009, 08:59 AM
Maybe we have seen the last of him. Sounds like this one would be a great bear to do a "study" on. I agree with you Craig, throw the book at people. I am sure that if the fines were raised for ignorant back country behavior some of it would cease and there would be enough extra income to support a few more rangers. It's a shame that people have to do such things, David, it sounds like you were the unfortunate victim of some lazy idiot. It's not like a little trash is going to be what breaks your back going out, if you carried it in when it was full, probably uphill, why is it so hard to carry out empty downhill? While looking for firewood in Deep Creek last month I found a trash bag hanging in a tree up the flat alongside the the little creek that runs in directly before 60, what a shame. I am leaving the 13th of May for Hazel for two weeks, and the back country desk already has asked for my entire itinerary in case they need to move me based on bear activity, it is not often I have been asked that when making my reservations.

04-26-2009, 09:37 AM
Always unnerving, Plateau. I had a similar incident at #23 last Summer. Two nights in a row a large yearling decided to snort around my tent, and on the second night he plopped down next to it, leaning onto the tent. Creepy stuff indeed. I didn't get much sleep, to say the least.

Nice fishing, too. And pictures. Fish Camp has become one of my favorite streams (particularly because I can generally be all alone).

I've already seen some very large mamma bears at Greenbrier -- talk about population revitalization.

04-27-2009, 09:08 AM
My wife and I hiked up past #18 last week. I got to hike back out with two tarps, several pieces of assorted trash and a near full gallon container of MSR fuel. It amazes me that someone would be dumb enough to take a gallon of fuel along with them but then to leave it there?

I hate picking up after people but there is no way that I can leave something like that if I happen to pass it.

04-27-2009, 09:30 AM
Plateau Angler,

When we were there on Friday the 17th, a group of teenage boys was there with one adult. They may have burried the trash. They seemed to know what they were doing though. We checked that site out since the second site was occupied, but decided to take the third site on the right since the cables are right accross the trail. When we checked out the site, there was a piece of clothing, a empty food can, and some other garabage in the fire pit. I suspect those were the campers that caused your issue. I am amazed at how poorly people can behave, although I have lived long enough now that I should not be surprised.

fly fisherman DK
04-28-2009, 10:27 PM
Good report Plateau Angler. That is terrible about what happened to your stuff. Thankfully, like others have said you weren't there when it happened. I agree that they should book people who do that kind of stuff. All I can say is that whoever did it was DUMB! Also, that is what hurts bears because like your encounter, they start to not be afraid of people.

Hey GrouseMan77, my dad and I had a similar experience to yours when we were hiking into the Raven Fork last year. We were at the top of Hyatt Ridge, and there lay three empty beer cans. It made my dad and I so angry because if you are going to take the time to take them on your hike in why don't you pack them out when they weigh nothing.:mad: We packed them out on the way back out. I don't understand what people don't get about packing their trash out.

fly fisherman DK