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Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Browns

Trailhead conditions, directions, roads, parking, camping, etc. Trailhead Info/Status
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Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Browns

Postby IHikeLikeAGirl » Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:11 am

I was going to do a solo hike up Cronin and White, either on a weekend or during the week. I've been fine doing some solo peaks this summer, but going into areas that are rarely visited, at a time when bears are trying to fuel up for hybernation, makes me pause.

If I do Cronin via Baldwin Gulch on a weekend, there should be other people around and fewer chances of a bear encounter. But walking the road and listening to ATVs buzz around was not my first choice.

I'd much prefer heading up Little Browns, but am pretty sure I won't encounter another soul and I'll be in the woods for ~8 mi RT alone. I worry that the bears will be out in force, trying to fuel up for their long slumber. I see them a lot more in my neighborhood this time of year.

The bears in my neighborhood, I'm used to...and (good or bad) they are used to us and pay us no mind, if given space. I'm just not as comfortable around bears that aren't used to people.

I usually make a lot of noise and was going to pick up bear spray. Mostly concerned about mother bears trying to get her cubs fattened up. Any reassurance and tips would be greatly appreciated.
"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."
- Steven Wright

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Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby Rock-a-Fella » Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:38 am

Bear really don't like people. Most "bad" encounters are when peoples pets come upon them (surprise the bear) or we come around a corner , over a rise and surprise them.

Sounds like you are worried so I would suggest you put 3 or 4 Bear Bells on you and your pack to ensure you are "making noise". Get the $4 ones with the magnetic silencer

The only drawback is your will be hearing bells in your head for a couple days after your trip.

Solo Climber advise: Please leave a detailed route and time plan with someone you trust and stick to it or Carry a PLB (Spot or Inreach) with tracking on
NOTE: You must turn on "Tracking" as if something back happens you may not be able too.

Not trying to scare you just to be real as there are two massive searches going on for "Solo Climbers" who did not use a PLB with the tracking turned on.

Have fun, Good luck, safe travels

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Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby Tortoise1 » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:02 am

Get some bear spray too, even if just for the peace of mind. I noticed that Walmart now sells the big cannisters (Frisco anyway), 30 something dollars, but BIG and HEAVY, shoots 25-30 feet I think. Sports Authority has a good selection of smaller ones, or did for the summer. There's one of the smaller, lighter ones that shoots around 15 feet. Some of the smaller ones shoot only 8-10 feet which strikes me as too close for comfort. I think most of them are made by Mace.

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Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby geojed » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:05 am

Bear bells don't really work. It just sounds like birds chirping to the bear. The human voice (ie. Talking, shouting, etc...) are the best things to help the bear be aware of your presence. Once they hear you they'll typically move out of the way, especially Black Bears. Attacks typically happen when you startle a bear and/or cub.

So just periodically talk loudly, sing songs loudly, or yell occasionally.
• It's by getting away from life that we can see it most clearly... It's by depriving ourselves of the myriad of everyday experiences that we renew our appreciation for them...I've learned from my experiences in the mountains that I love life. — Dave Johnston
• Mountains are not climbed merely to reach a geographical location — but as personal and spiritual challenges to the participants. — David Stein
• The best climber in the world is the one who’s having the most fun.— Alex Lowe
• Why do I climb the mountain? Because I'm in love! — The Captain

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Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby Boggy B » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:23 am

In the past 3 years I've spent a considerable amount of time hiking solo in remote areas of Colorado, in the dark (and of course during daylight hours too), at all times of the year. Yet I've only seen bears in populated areas. Twice near houses in Ridgway (from the car), and once near the Mt Sanitas trail in Boulder (in person).

Still, when I'm hiking by myself in the dark and think about it, I start clicking my trekking poles together at intervals. Seems like a pretty unnatural noise.

Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby MonGoose » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:25 am

1) Store your food properly at night (bear container or hanging). Remember: bears don't hunt people, they hunt our food. Improper storage is the primary cause of bear encounters.
2) Make noise (speak loudly) when entering thick wooded areas with low visibility to let any bears, (or moose) know that you're in the area. No surprises.
3) Take some bear spray with you. If a bear is within range, don't hesitate to use the spray. The effects of the spray on a bear are temporary but the memory of a human encounter will remain.
NOTE: Be mindful of wind direction so that you don't inadvertently spray yourself.

Similar to Rock-a-Fella's advice, every year we lose a handful of people in the mountains due to rock hazard, disorientation or hypothermia. The risk of a bear encounter is minuscule compared to these ever present dangers.

Have a great trip!

Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby KyleS » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:34 am

So a bear walks into a bar...
No, seriously.

http://www.yorkdispatch.com/ci_24167838/bear-walks-into-bar-alaska-seriously?source=most_viewed

Yelling at a bear seems to work pretty well.

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Route Advice

Postby flyingmagpie » Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:54 am

Dear IHikeLikeAGirl--
Every resoponse so far has concerned bear advice. I have some specific route advice for you. I climbed Cronin (formerly "North Carbonate" solo in October last year. Climbing conditions were similar to this year. Light coat of snow, rocks and talus exposed. Maybe there is a bit more snow this year.
1. I wouldn't be concerned with ATV's "buzzing around". I didn't see a soul all day. I drove to the 4WD parking area in Roach's 13ers book in my Jeep. When the road got too icy I stopped. I hiked up the road from there until I reached the first switchback.
2. I didn't see any bears. That doesn't mean you won't see any. I do carry a small canister of bear spray, but I have never had to use it or even reach for it.
3. I did encounter strong, cold winds. Dress in layers and be prepared for wind if that happens to you.
4. I did not climb the road. Like you, I don't like climbing roads. I left the road at the first really big switchback. Why did I leave the road? I looked up at the mountain, Cronin, and could see an alternate route up the mountain. There is a big ramp that leads approximately southwest (below the traditional Roach "East Ridge" route, if you have the Roach 13er book) from the first big switchback. It passes just to the left of the little tarn on the Roach map. It passes below cliffs and is easy walking. The ramp then turns straight west, and climbs to join Roach's traditional "East Ridge" route midway to the summit. You should be able to see this route plainly. It is a huge ramp. Very wide. Very obvious. Below the cliffs.
5. I tried to attach some photos I took, but I got a warning that my images were too many pixels wide. I am techno-challenged and don't know how to change that. I may try to email the images to you.
6. It is a good climb, but lonely this time of year. Some hunters may be in the field this time of year, and wearing a blaze orange cap or knit hat would be good.
7. Roach's "North Ridge" route was completely and deeply snowed in, and would have been unpleasant.

--flyingmagpie
"I've found the truest paths always lead through mountains." Kate Wolf, "An Unfinished Life"

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Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby IHikeLikeAGirl » Thu Sep 26, 2013 9:35 am

Thank you all and yes, was mainly interested in the bear advice, but I (as always) appreciate the concern and additional advice.

FTR, I always:

- send a detailed itinerary to some close friends, along with specific instructions on what to do if they don't hear from me at the designated time or if they get a "help" message.

- carry a SPOT and have tracking on

- have plenty of layers and gear for any weather conditions

- carry overnight gear

- carry a first aid kit.

- have iodine tablets, lots of water, and extra food

And I was not going to be camping, it was a day trip only from the TH.
"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."
- Steven Wright

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Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:40 am

All of the above is great advice. I would add this.

Bears used to worry me until I got religion. No, wait, I meant, education. 8-[

Seriously, this book was extremely helpful in losing that pesky bear-fear:
http://www.amazon.com/Bear-Attacks-Causes-Avoidance-revised/dp/158574557X
Stephen Herrero is a noted bear researcher, and I recall finding the book very informative and an easy read.

Hope that helps.

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Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby nkan02 » Thu Sep 26, 2013 11:40 am

Valerie, as I said, I'll be happy to tag along with you. I don't think you should be hiking alone after what you've been through recently. No need to push it. Just let me know what day would work for you. And I agree, Baldwin gulch shouldn't be a problem this time a year.

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Re: Need Reassurance - Cronin solo from Baldwin or Little Br

Postby IHikeLikeAGirl » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:46 pm

Looks like I have a partner!

Still good info on the bear stuff. I've never seen a bear myself in the 9 years that I've been doing this hobby, but you never know.

Thanks everyone!
"Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time."
- Steven Wright

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