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JayB
01-17-2011, 01:03 PM
I read in Byron's fishing report the other day not to expect to see any bears, and I didnt see any on our hike the other day down West Prong trail. However we did see this! Somebody is up and moving around. The print was clear enough to still see the claw marks. For comparison thats my size 11 shoe in the pic.

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e383/beljason/bearprint.jpg

He came up the hill out of campsite 18, went up the trail for 50 yards, then went up the mountainside. My wife was a little uncomfortable about being there after that. I cant imagine what she would have done if we had walked up on this massive bruin.

Crockett
01-17-2011, 02:18 PM
Awesome pic Jay! Did you guys stay the night at 18? If you did I bet you were the only ones there lol. Do any fishing?

duckypaddler
01-17-2011, 02:40 PM
I read in Byron's fishing report the other day not to expect to see any bears, and I didnt see any on our hike the other day down West Prong trail. However we did see this! Somebody is up and moving around. The print was clear enough to still see the claw marks. For comparison thats my size 11 shoe in the pic.

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e383/beljason/bearprint.jpg

He came up the hill out of campsite 18, went up the trail for 50 yards, then went up the mountainside. My wife was a little uncomfortable about being there after that. I cant imagine what she would have done if we had walked up on this massive bruin.

That's funny I saw the exact same sized prints coming out of West Prong Watershed (up some thick Rhodo)crossing Bote Mountain trail only to continue down the other side of the ridge yesterday while doing the Lead Cove - Bote Mountain - Finley Cane loop. I took a pic, and said to myself that that was a sizable bear, and only goes to prove that even in a hard winter the bears stay active in the Smokies. Someone even made a snowman with C cup breasts about a 100 yards above the Finley Cane junction:biggrin:

I looked for the manway going down to the West Prong from Lead Cove, but couldn't discern anything with all the snow:frown:

duckypaddler
01-17-2011, 03:13 PM
Here is a link to some pics including the bear prints

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=108840&id=1207448117&l=5ce345a5af

JayB
01-17-2011, 05:27 PM
Our plans were to try for our first snow camping adventure. We had successfully camped at Pretty Hollow back in november, and the temp was in the mid 20's then, so I knew our sleeping system was warm enough, however the snow adds a new dimension of difficulties beyond the cold factor. The kids just didnt have the right gear for the trip. I brought an insane number of extra socks, but they couldnt keep their feet dry, and were pretty miserable by the time we made it to the campsite. We made dinner, packed back up and headed out just as it started getting dark. Im glad we did though, the weather reports had predicted it to stay cloudy through the night, and the lows to be in the upper 20's, low 30's but as we left we saw it was a crystal clear night, at least at 8pm, and Im sure it was much colder than the weathermen had predicted. We were already near the lower limit of our gear, and I didnt want to test it under these conditions. Maybe next year we can get better boots for all the boys, and some warmer sleeping bags, and try it again. It was a great learning experience for all of us, and an adventure that we wont forget. (My shoulders havent forgot carrying a 40 lb pack on my back and a 45 lb "moose" of a toddler in my arms the whole 2 miles back out)
The place was desolate down in that valley, with only a few sets of footprints thru the campsite. I didnt have time to wet a line, though I had brought it with me. The water was clear, but a little high. Im sure I would have caught a limit if I had the time.:rolleyes:

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e383/beljason/boysontrail.jpg

BlueRaiderFan
01-17-2011, 08:02 PM
That's hardcore...tough kids those.

cardfly
01-17-2011, 08:20 PM
JayB, you sir, are a BEAST. So are your kids.

Bravo to you and your family.


WOW

Duggie
01-19-2011, 07:03 PM
JayB,

From the looks of your photo, it appears that the snow was pretty "crusty" (was it not?). The contour of the bear print makes me think that it is probably at least two days old, since it shows notably jagged edges that would be cominsurate with this type of time frame , which would most likely make the actual size of the "paw print" about half that size. Anyway, neat photo from a "brave" guy.

diamonddave7676
01-19-2011, 07:13 PM
looks like fun. I may be wrong on this but when bears hibernate they dont actually sleep the entire time. I believe they get up and move around several times during hibernation.

ukfb1
01-19-2011, 09:18 PM
I may get slammed by this post but here goes. I am not one to get involved into others business on camping but your kids out in the weather in the equipment I saw in the photo? I would not venture out as an adult with that type of boots or equipment in the winter. Getting off my soapbox. Sorry. Our plans were to try for our first snow camping adventure. We had successfully camped at Pretty Hollow back in november, and the temp was in the mid 20's then, so I knew our sleeping system was warm enough, however the snow adds a new dimension of difficulties beyond the cold factor. The kids just didnt have the right gear for the trip. I brought an insane number of extra socks, but they couldnt keep their feet dry, and were pretty miserable by the time we made it to the campsite. We made dinner, packed back up and headed out just as it started getting dark. Im glad we did though, the weather reports had predicted it to stay cloudy through the night, and the lows to be in the upper 20's, low 30's but as we left we saw it was a crystal clear night, at least at 8pm, and Im sure it was much colder than the weathermen had predicted. We were already near the lower limit of our gear, and I didnt want to test it under these conditions. Maybe next year we can get better boots for all the boys, and some warmer sleeping bags, and try it again. It was a great learning experience for all of us, and an adventure that we wont forget. (My shoulders havent forgot carrying a 40 lb pack on my back and a 45 lb "moose" of a toddler in my arms the whole 2 miles back out)
The place was desolate down in that valley, with only a few sets of footprints thru the campsite. I didnt have time to wet a line, though I had brought it with me. The water was clear, but a little high. Im sure I would have caught a limit if I had the time.:rolleyes:

http://i43.photobucket.com/albums/e383/beljason/boysontrail.jpg

JayB
01-20-2011, 09:38 AM
Thanks for the comments guys. As for how old the bear print is, I admit Im no expert tracker, so I appreciate the input as to what to look for. I just noticed that most of the other tracks we saw, deer mainly, were very melted, almost unrecognizable except for the mud print underneath, so when I saw the detail left in this print, I assumed it was fresher. I never said how recent I thought the track was, just commented on the detail visible, i.e. the claw marks.
Im not exactly sure what the "brave" comment is about, though. I was simply posting a picture of a bear track, which I thought was interesting and other members here would find interesting. I never made a comment about how "brave" I thought I was for being there. Thanks anyway though.


As for my kids equipment, I admitted in the post we didnt have the right gear. We moved here from Texas in March, so we dont have a lot of cold weather gear. I thought the rubber boots would work, but we learned our lesson. They had warmer clothes in their packs (thermals), they were warm from hiking in the picture and had shed their coats. My boys and I have fun, we experience things a lot of others dont, they love it, and so do I, but I take no risks with my boys. When they were cold, we warmed them up, and the second I realized that spending the night wasnt a good idea we immediately turned around. Again, I dont take risks with my boys. You dont learn until you experience, and we learned a lot on this trip. Dont mistake that for being unprepared or stupid. The trip was short so we could get back to the car if we needed to, which we did. These things were all thought out, on purpose.
So anyway, as I said IN MY POST ,we learned our lesson, rubber boots suck, we are keeping an eye out for deals on boots for the boys for next winter.


Diamonddave, that was my understanding too, the reason I posted this too was the irony of Byron saying not to expect to see a bear in this cold in the fishing report the other day. I thought it was funny/ironic.

Jay

Grannyknot
01-20-2011, 10:38 AM
JayB...good for you for taking your kids out on a winter hike. I applaud your motivation to get your kids outdoors. Better than sitting at home playing video games or watching tv. You also made the right decision by turning it into an extended hike rather than overnighter.

Bears don't hibernate in the traditional sense in the smokies, they just take extended naps. Warmer days speeds up their metabolism which wakes them up and makes them stir around.

I bet 3 pairs of good waterproof hiking boots is a hefty expense. Keep an eye out for some on clearance.

Jim Casada
01-20-2011, 11:01 AM
Diamonddave--Bears in the Smokies just sort of semi-hibernate. They may climb into a hollow tree or similar location and snooze for a week or two, then roust themelves and roam a bit. A good deal of research on their hibernating habits was done a decade or more ago by Mike Pelton (I think I remember the name correctly, but if not, someone where will set me straight) back through use of tracking devices. You can certainly see a bear in the winter, but it is much less likely than during the warm weather months.
Jim Casada
www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com (http://www.jimcasadaoutdoors.com)

NDuncan
01-20-2011, 11:12 AM
I bet 3 pairs of good waterproof hiking boots is a hefty expense. Keep an eye out for some on clearance.


Or get a bunch of duct tape and thick black garbage bags...:rolleyes:

canetuck
01-20-2011, 08:19 PM
Jay, I commend you on taking your boys on these trips.Your pictures from the summer trip have inspired me to get my boys in the backcountry.We plan to have a few GSMNP excursions this year of our own.Wished I lived closer.One of these days I'm gonna do it, pick up and move to East Tennessee!

rivergal
01-21-2011, 07:57 AM
Seeing that bear track convinced me to buy a bear bell. I noticed there was no guarantee with the bell, and the bear bell sounds a lot like a dinner bell.
I carry more snacks than flies in my fishing vest so I am a bear magnet. I have been afraid of bears ever since one bluff charged me and showed his teeth!

JayB
01-21-2011, 11:29 AM
grannyknot- there are a couple of issues with kids gear. One is even finding it. Try finding good hiking boots in a toddler size 9, even boys size 1 or 2 can be hard to find, and when you do find it, they are as expensive as adult shoes, and then the kids outgrow them by the next season. Im keeping a watchful eye out for clearance sales and at all the local goodwills too. sometimes though, you just have to be creative.

Nate-too creative.:rolleyes:

canetuck-thanks for the comment.

rivergal- this leads me to one issue that I am unsure of, and does kind of bother me. IF I were to meet an aggressive bear on the trail, and Im the only adult with the boys, what is my plan of action? Lots of things to consider, and I just hope it never happens. At least with three boys, I never have to worry about making enough noise to make the bears aware of us. Im sure they can hear us from miles away!

Streamhound
01-21-2011, 11:49 AM
HEy Rivergal based on your snacks to flies ratio I think I want to fish with you:biggrin:

JayB
I don't know a thing about tracking but thanks for the picture. I enjoyed it. I may be showing age but when I was young and in scouts we got boots at the supply store which was like TSC but local. They were hiking, work, cold weather, warm weather, snake season etc...

Some kids got those mountain climbing style boots with red laces and vibram souls but those were mostly worn by the kids who had money. The rest of us went with the work boot style or a little older army surplus.

Looking back the day they saw the bear track with dad will go down as one of their "coolest days"

whitefeather
01-21-2011, 02:47 PM
Jim,

I just read your article in the Tuck Reader on horses in the park and the one on bears. I agree with you on horse people donating some time to mitigate some of the damage their horses do and other points you made.

Your (almost scathing) article on bears and the mismanagement of park officials due to a lack of caring and/or a superiority complex is on point as far I am concerned. I felt you gave them a well deserved verbal "butt kicken". Their attitude can be traced to many other problems in the park in which laws and rules are broken all the time and I'm sure you're well aware of them. Good work, thanks for your common sense no holds barred approach in print. Tell it like it is...let the whiners eat cheese.

Whitefeather
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Blue skies, warm gentle winds, and trout filled waters to all!:smile: