Our base camp is located about ten miles from a Critical Access Hospital in Wrangell, AK. Emergency services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Guides are trained in basic first aid, CPR, and Wilderness First Responder. We are always equipped with first aid kits. While trekking into remote locations, we carry two-way radios and a satellite phone. Base Camp is not in the middle of territory often frequented by bears, however, they do live on the island.
Bear Country: One of the special features of backpacking in Alaska is the fact that you will be camping in bear country. While this presents unique challenges when moving through the country, it also affords us with one of the more unique, intense, and memorable outdoor experiences. Bears must be respected, but travel within bear country should not necessarily evoke fear. Both brown and black bears live in southeast Alaska and while bears generally avoid people it would not be uncommon to encounter one while hiking. They demand your respect and close attention. Knowing how to handle an encounter is absolutely necessary for ensuring the safety of everyone while in Alaska.
While base camp on Wrangell is not in an area frequented by bears, we will enter bear country during back-country treks. All of our guides are educated in the proper techniques for ensuring maximum security and safety in the wilderness setting. Every group is properly equipped with sufficient bear deterrent.
“Despite persistent doubts among hikers and campers venturing into bear country, you’re better off with an eight-ounce can of bear spray than a gun, according to an analysis of 20 years of data.
Canadian and U.S. researchers announced Wednesday that they found the spray stopped aggressive bear behaviour in 92 per cent of the cases, whether that behaviour was an attack or merely rummaging for food. Guns were effective about 67 per cent of the time.”
Please take the time to read carefully the Bear Country guidelines set down by the US Forest Service. We will have regular discussions on proper behavior in bear country and wilderness safety before and throughout the excursion.
Experts in bear deterrent agree that bear spray is more effective than firearms in most encounter situations. Spray halts aggressive behavior in 92% of cases in which it was necessary to deploy deterrent. AWOC guides do not regularly carry firearms when entering areas that experience significant bear activity, but we always carry spray deterrent.
You can access all of the latest information concerning safety in bear country by perusing the Bear Smart Society’s website.