The following are real life experiences:
It was my first time to Steamboat Springs in Colorado. As was my usual way of traveling in my younger days, I planned on camping out in the rough – i.e., no tent; only a tarp for rain cover. I climbed up a mountain side on the outside of town and found myself on the top of a cliff over looking a deep ravine containing a tumbling river. The cliff I stood on was scary high, but had a barren, partially flat top just right for sleeping. The cliff to the river was frightening, but there was a very short fence that would awaken me if I happened to roll that way although I was sleeping perpendicular to the the edge of it. I tucked in for the night.
I was a few winks into sleep when something ran across me. Something very small. And fast. I woke up with a start. What was that? Was it my imagination? I could detect nothing of the space invader. Eventually I faded back into sleep.
Then something ran across me again. And again. And again. I could not make out what the thing, or things were, but they were making me paranoid. Some THINGS seemed to be having a game of running over me in the dark. My paranoia had me fully awake for a few moments, but fatigue soon returned and overcame whatever fear I had.
In the middle of the night something subtle nudged me awake. I was sleeping on my back and SOMETHING was standing on my chest. By the light of the full moon behind it I could make out the definite form of the silhouette of ………. a chipmunk.
I had parked my tired carcass directly in the path of the nocturnal highway for these rodents. I sat up yelling and the thing took off. But for the rest of the night I remained their speedbump. Somehow, despite this, I did manage to get some sleep. I guess you can get used to anything.
I was camping out on Orca Island; a part of the San Juan chain of islands out in the Puget Bay of Washington State. I was roaming the island and testing out my newly bought military style hammock tent. It was a hammock in that you suspended it from trees, just like any hammock, but it had mosquito netting sides and a house-like sloping roof for repelling rain. Just before dusk I set it up on a slope headed downwards to a small lake at the bottom. It seemed a wonderful spot for a night’s sleep.
What I hadn’t anticipated was that the nights here would be inky black with no visibility at all. I was dead asleep when SOMEHTING ran into me in the hammock and sent me swinging. I sat up, yelling like hell from fright and shock. Whatever hit me was at least three or four feet high and kept on going underneath after impact.
I never saw what it was, but it left me rocking like a baby in its carriage. To this day I do not know for sure what it was, but I surmise that it was a small deer as is common to the Pacific north-west or, less likely, a wild pig. Whatever it was, it made for an uneasy night’s sleep as I kept one eye open the rest of the night for its brother to come along.
I was camping out again in the Rockies, this time near a seasonal brook. Coming-home at night was never easy, but this night as an experiment I attempted the quarter mile jaunt with out a headlamp. It was going quite well until I was within spitting distance of my tent. Suddenly I heard a rustling from my tent that could only indicate that something was in it. Every hair on my body stiffened and I had an out of the body experience from the fright. ‘BEAR’ was my first thought. But something was amiss. A bear could not possible fit in that small tent of mine, but there was a budge under under the rain fly that was definitely moving. I gathered my courage and my flashlight and cautiously stalked up quietly to investigate. I carefully picked up the corner of the rain fly and looked in. A masked face gazed back cheekily at me. A raccoon! And he had a buddy down in the tent. One of them had boldly ripped out the small screen mesh at the apex of the tent and gone inside to rummage around. And rummage they did! I pulled back in fright as raccoons, as cute and cuddly as they might seem, were vicious and smart fighters. But they also knew when they were in trouble. The one under the rain fly took off. I went around and opened the zipper on the front and started hitting the back of the tent to scare his buddy off.
The two over-grown rodents had successfully tore up my whole tent. Anything that had a smell had been chewed up and everything, repeat everything, had been torn through. The next morning I found almost a perfect semi-circle of my stuff around the tent. It was as though the bandit inside the tent had passed everything of interest to the one on the top saying “Hey Bennie! Check this thing out!,” and then Bennie had found everything to be not of much use, as Reggie had found it tossed it out. Included in this was my little statuette of Yoda, which just goes to show that raccoons are really more in tune with the Dark Side of the Force.
The two mafiosi returned twice again later to savage my tent. The second time I wasn’t as afraid as the first; and when I found they had made a rip along the entire side of the tent, I was livid. When they hit me the third time, I had had enough. I reached inside the tent and grabbed my large umbrella with the hard plastic handle and, despite their trying to intimidate me with their threatening hissing, I started beating them hard with the umbrella handle. I wasn’t hitting them hard enough to break bones, but definitely hard enough to leave bruises and bad memories. They suddenly were not so aggressive, and were fervently looking for alternative escape routes out. Moving to the back of the tent I took good aim at the bulge of one of them and sent him scurrying for home. The second had to endure another assault from the front before he got smart and exited hurriedly when his barrage from the back came.
After that they never returned.