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Discussion Starter #1
as in love for, not as in documented sleeping bag action, sorry.

We just got back from Big Meadows. We saw a LOT of bears. The first night we stayed in A loop in our fav place and a mother and two cubs came walking along the end of the site.

This is when I learned that my city dog (Baxter) and my rural stray (Kinley) truly are from two different worlds. Kinley, apparently knows what bears are and is of the firm belief, as am I, that they need to stay a respectable distance away.

He was the one that alerted me to the bears. In fact, he bounded out of the car (we were tucking in) and made these low growling noises I'd not hear before. This told me it was serious.

The he ran forward several feet and put on quite the show. Not the barking to scare the hikers who are idiots and walked through our site, this was a totally different sort of thing. The bears stopped, looked at Kinley, he looked at them. Baxter stayed in the car sleeping,lol. Either because he has no idea what a bear is (he learned later) or because he hopes Kinley will perhaps be eaten by one.

I called Kinley back and he reluctantly came after I got Gabriel in the car. The bears kept going. A stupid dog would have run up to the bears or made a commotion. He is not a stupid dog. I was a little short of breath. I'm not used to half domesticated bears, I'm used to Alaska bears.

The next morning as we were waking up I went to tether the dogs and Kinley saw a group of deer. Yep, you guessed it.

He was off and it was both beautiful and panic inducing. See, Kinley is a runner and a very competitive one. He didn't want to catch the deer, he never made a sound. He wanted to race the deer.

You can see in the pic with both of them the back is wide open so you could see all this unfolding. he was leaping with the deer and then *poof* they were all gone.

As in ALL gone. I blew my ER whistle, waited....and he came bounding back. it was like, a movie moment, I tell you. he was all 'Did you SEE what I did?!" and I was all "OMG you came back!!"

Baxter is just looking at Kinley like "Whatever."

So....we have breakfast and for some reason, even though the campground is almost empty a family with two very unhappy small children move next to us.

Very, unhappy small children.

So we moved over to E loop and scored 187. This was easy as we had no tent. Although the small children were audibly miserable enough I would have moved a brick and mortar condo need be.

We spent the day hiking and eating . It's very tiring with two dogs because you pretty much have to keep going through out the day. Went to the lodge, played checkers.

Next morning I'm making coffee and I hear Kinley make the 'bear noise'. I can’t see anything. The E loop is on the edge of a drop off to the Appalachian Trail, you can see it in the pics here.

I'm looking, Baxter is looking, I go down a few feet, no bear. Kinley is still making the bear noise. I turn around, pour my coffee, turn back and there is this HUGE black bear sticking it's head up right over the edge.

To see what he could see.

Kinley and Baxter and now getting serious, I'm yelling at Gabriel to stay in the car and here is this bear. HC knows the spot I'm talking about, it's not a big distance from the site to the drop.

Bear decides the dogs are a PIA and moves along. Now according to the rangers the bears are no big deal you just make noise and they go away. But I was happy to have my boys.

Kinley remained very serious the rest of the day. You can see in one of the pics where he is basically on bear look out.

The E stuff, well, I found this tri folds martial arts mat we had and used that. it was fantastic as it went all the way under the steering wheel. used the cushions to level it.

The bag, the BAG, I love this bag. I have never loved a bag before. It's HUGE. It has pockets, its flannel lined and has a big top cushy extra part you can drawstring to make a mummy type hood and another drawstring along the top. Zippers one BOTH sides and it's warm. It made me HAPPY.

It's the Teton Mammoth bag. Supposed to sleep two adult and a kid, we are one fat adult and a big nine year old and had plenty of room. It was a dreamy bag.

The secret to putting it back in is to fold in lengthwise and the cram the bottom end in first. Don't even bother trying to roll this sucker up. I am so happy with this damn bag.

Thats the boy in the hammock. I got a tent 'attic' and a suv pocket type net and used those for storage. At night the cooler went between the space that's between the two front seats, I was quite please with how nifty everything fit togther.
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
A few more. That one at the bottom? Imagine a big black bear head poking up there at the edge. It did get a bit cold for Kinley, he still has puppy belly and the poor boy was just sitting there shivering, after about five I popped both of them in the car.
 

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Sounds like a trip you all won't soon forget!

Yeah, all those sites on the edge can be entertaining. One evening we heard a herd of deer thundering up the AT. I've heard of bears walking on the AT but we never experienced it.

The only thing scarier than a bear is skunks. That campsite is skunk-central, lucky if you didn't see any.

How cold was it at night?

Are you happy with the Reflectix?

You sure have the minimalist camping down to a science now.

Think you'll get more trips in before they close?

:)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Not only did I see a skunk, it acted like it was my best friend. AT 3:00 AM while I'm simply wanting to pee and tired of having dreams where I am doing so. I'd move, it would follow. I'm having a one sided dialouge with the damn thing.

Finally it found something under the picnic table. Gabriel bought a stuffed one from the gift shop. I was fine with that. Not so much with the aromatic paramour.

The Reflectix was fantastic. I could tell because I took about a quarter of a panel away from the window and you could feel the cold, right there. of course, everything was dripping wet in the morning, but we were warm.

The tri fold mat I'd leave home when it's warmer and use the Coleman SUV mattress. Although it fit nicely on the floor on we the ride there and back and the dogs thought it was swell.

It was crazy, there were bears in trees, bears at the site, bears well, you know right where I'm talking about. It wasn't too cold, but we are cold weather folk.

But, given the bear party so early in the month, it gives me a little pause going out any later in the year. I would go again if I could swing a trip without the dogs, or with just one. My big concern was the Momma bear thinking the boys were a threat to her cubs and dogs on a tether are at a disadvantage.

I don't know, people were all excited about it but I'm more cautious then most having been around 'real' bears and I do consider these real bears. While other people might be dragging thier kids closer I'm stuffing mine in the car,lol.
 

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I long ago lost track of how many bears we'd seen at Big Meadows and on the SNP trails. Mamas and babies, too. Sometimes just Gidget, other times her Belgian Shepherd buddy, too. The bears only ever wanted to distance themselves or simply ignore.

Across from the camp host on the hill, we were once walking back from the showers at noon. I was shocked by what I initially thought was an off-leash Newfoundland next to the road.

It was Mama Bear. She was turning over rocks looking for grubs, her two babies in tow. Eventually a dozen or more campers gathered around and she let us watch for half an hour while she hunted for grubs and the cubs played nearby.

Gidget showed no interest, whatsoever. She seemed merely to be perplexed at being eclipsed for attention by the bears.

The first time she ever saw a bear we were on a trail and Gidget yapped like crazy. Gidget was about a year old. The bear paused, looked, and strolled along. Since then Gidget ignores them all.

I would advise having on hand the ingredients for skunk remediation: hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, dish soap (not mxing them unless you need them as the mixture will explode if sealed).

:)


 

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Discussion Starter #7
http://www.elementownersclub.com/forums/showthread.php?t=59306

here you go. I ended up taking the folding out portion off. It was too high for the dogs to use, not because it was too high, but because they felt it was. SO I folded the third seat down to make a double.

That was NOT as comfy as the whole platform. I slept of the folded down seat part the first night. Even with the foam padding it was uncomfortable. Next night the boy did and it was much better.

So for longer trips I would bring the whole platform but since the season is all most done, I'll leave it as is until then.
 

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I love the simplicity and earthy feel of your weekend. You and nature are one with the comfort and protection of only an E around you. Such a fun description of your bag that it makes me want one (but I think I'll be able to resist the urge).

You DC/VA people sure have a relationship with bears and skunks. Makes me nervous. I only camped around bears in CA and didn't like it. One shook the storage box on the tongue of the popup we were in and the whole trailer rattled and rolled. It was hard to sleep the rest of the night.
 

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Nice story and pictures! My wife and I have been camping once with the E. Next time we are staying in the E, as opposed to the tent. At least when it rains, the E won't get wet on the inside and soak our bags... :rolleyes:

Good idea on the Teton Mammoth bag. I'm going to show that to my wife, I bet she'll want it. It'll easily fit my wife, the German Shepherd and me. Yes... our GSD is a bit of a princess :razz:
 
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