Getting to Guyot: And a cautionary tale of bear activity

Getting to Guyot on the Bondcliff Trail

It is a long walk to Guyot. The most direct route is via Zealand, passing by the beaver ponds and Zealand Falls Hut to the Twinway, climbing to Zeacliff and striding across the ridgeline to where the Bondcliff Trail meets the Twinway at Mt Guyot. More than seven miles but less than nine, getting to Guyot is one of my favorite walks in the Whites, especially so on a clear day.

However, what brought me to Guyot last week was not only a favorite walk en route to visit a caretaker, but black bears. Bears have been very active in the backcountry in recent years, but especially so in the past two weeks. This time of year is the hungry time of year for them, with berries not quite in full force and with a hunger to store food for the winter.

In the past two weeks, bears have visited Liberty, Garfield, Guyot, 13 Falls, Ethan Pond, and Nauman. In all instances the bears passed through and headed to the bearboxes we have on site. In some instances the bears did no more than sniff around the caretaker tent and then bat at the bear box. In the case of Guyot, and 13 Falls, the bear was more interested, loitering around the site for a few hours, knocking the bear boxes down the hill, and entering the caretaker tent and the shelter.

One of the "bear boxes" recently supplied to Guyot
In all instances, the bear did not get a reward. The “reward” is food, candy, trash, anything that is of interest to a hungry bear. The bear did not get a reward thanks to proper food storage on the part of the overnight hikers and the caretakers.

Once a bear gets that reward, it is  highly likely that the bear will become a problem bear, returning to sites where it got food before and losing its fear of humans along the way. Problem bears are then tagged, transported, and if they remain problems, shot.

“A fed bear is a dead bear” is how the saying goes. Overnight hikers can use the White Mtn National Forest bear can loaner program (stop by any of the district offices to pick one up for free!), and day hikers should still consider bears and make sure to pick up food waste when snacking along the trail. All AMC campsites (except Full Goose in Maine) have bear boxes, but nothing beats knowledge of proper bear hangs or a can of your own.

In our combined Trails Dept memory, we can not remember a time when bears have visited our high elevation sites like Guyot (granted, our memories are imperfect, but they do stretch back at least 30 years). Dan, the rotating caretaker who was at Guyot and 13 Falls during the incidents, did an excellent job scaring the bear off and was vigilant in proper food storage. But as much as I enjoy going to Guyot, the purpose of filling out a bear incident report tempers the trip.

For more information check out AMC Outdoors, or ask your nearest friendly AMC employee or USFS Ranger!

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