|Pictured: an asshole.|
Bears are territorial, especially if you startle them or appear to threaten their cubs.
|This woman likens herself to a total asshole.|
But here's what really elevates bears from annoying jerks to total and complete assholes: in addition to being the worst of both worlds of territorial and aggressive, they add a whole other category of crappyness: they're pests.
Though bears could easily turn humans into food, they'd way rather skip the middleman and just eat our food instead. The vast majority of bear-human encounters in national parks happen not in some pristine wilderness, but near a thoughtlessly-kept parking lot, garbage bin, or campsite. They're the house mice of the outdoors. House mice that can eat your head.
I'd made all the recommended plans for this: bear-bagging food high in a tree, eliminating any possible scented toiletries, keeping the cooksite far from the tent for when hungry bears come a-snuffling. But it turns out that that isn't enough anymore. The national parks in California and the entire state of Washington have declared that all backcountry campers must carry a bear-proof food canister.
Well, most of them weigh a ton--there's one manufacturer that uses some space-age polycarbon that saves over a pound. Except that while most bear canisters average about $50, these go for over $200. While I know that once I'm on the trail beginning a 5-day trek with my entire survival on my back, I'll surely appreciate saving weight more than I will saving money. But it's still a big cliff to face. Stupid bears!