Without declaring a position on the topic of firearms, there are two issues that immediately come to my mind, particularly when talking about a long distance hike that crosses state lines:
- Different states have different laws and you could be well within your legal rights in one state and then find yourself in legal jeopardy when you cross into the next state. So you need to be hyper-vigilant about laws. In fact, this goes for carrying knives as well - even those nice little 3" folders.
- The size and the caliber required to adequately protect yourself from a bear - particularly a grizzly - usually falls well outside the size that can be properly concealed and/or the weight that most people are willing to carry.
For me? Bear spray. I don't worry about scaring other hikers, accidental discharge, fewer legal worries about carrying it, can be carried openly where it's easily accessible within 2-3 seconds...
I'd also recommend bear bells Not because they're effective but if the grizzly isn't chased away with the spray, at least it will have some nice dinner music while it eats me LOLOLOL
“Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life.” (John Muir)
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