01 May How to throw a bear line the easy way
One of the most amusing activities of backpacking is watching while someone else tries to throw a bear bag line. This usually starts with finding a likely branch, then looking for a stick or rock to tie to the end of a rope. Given how many rocks you wear your feet out on while hiking, it’s amazing how you can’t find a rock when you really want one.
Easy Way to Hang a Bear Line
The real fun starts as the hiker begins throwing. Over and over again. Typically the rock goes flying off the end of the rope. The stick is worse. It is either too small and lightweight to be able to reach the branch or it is just large enough to bounce off branches or get tangled at the top of a tree. Eventually the thrower returns to the rock because sticks just won’t hit the mark. The lucky tosser eventually lands a beauty. The rock clears the branch, arcing through the sky with a beautiful tail of rope unfurling behind. The hiker stands transfixed as he stares at the result of his magnificent toss. Suddenly the laws of physics return the rock to a point right between the the thrower’s eyes. Usually a last second dive to the ground saves the thrower from brain injury.
Instead of searching around for a weighty object to tie on the end of a string, why not bring an 8 – 12 oz disposable plastic water bottle. I’m always carrying disposable water bottles anyway. Fill it with enough water to give it the optimum throwing weight and screw on the cap. Tie the rope around the neck of the bottle just below where the cap screws on. If the relatively thin and soft plastic bottle returns to hit you, at least it won’t leave you with bruises. If the disposable bottle somehow breaks, so what? The circumference of the bottle is ideal for the perfect grip. You can even wind some rope around the bottle in order to get some extra spooling as the rope arcs over your chosen branch. Best yet, you don’t have to add weight to your backpack. Of course, you are probably already carrying another object of ideal weight, but do you really want to throw your Iphone toward the top of a tree?