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Sure – we’ve read plenty of other camp stories about animals ransacking camper’s food stashes in the night. And how we were definitely not supposed to store food and toiletries in our tents...
But after a late mid-day start to our 10-mile hike, we made it to the Havasu Falls campsite around 8pm. It was already dark and everyone was exhausted, so we tried to eat dinner and set up camp as quickly as possible.
When it came to our food, we knew we should’ve hung it up. In fact, Ginny said we should really hang up our stuff. But we were all tired and didn’t want to spend another 15 minutes going through the hassle of looking for an appropriate tree (not many to choose from) and stringing up our stuff. The power of the mob concluded:
“Meh, it’s one night. F**k it. What’s the worst that could happen? I mean...there definitely aren’t any bears or other animals out here in the desert canyon, right?”
So we kept our food in the tent and fell asleep. Oh man, were we about to learn that night...
Probably 40 minutes after falling asleep, Ginny shot awake from something grabbing at her feet from outside the tent. WTF WAS THAT. We were both wide awake now and trying to gather enough courage to confront the Chupacabra waiting to rip us apart. We went outside with our flashlights to investigate and there it was, lurking in the darkness ...2 glowing, ominous eyeballs just staring back at us. It was a face-off between us and the fattest motherf**k’n raccoon we’ve ever seen.
After scaring his fat ass off, we saw the raccoon had scratched up our tent and left some holes. We went to our friends’ tents and discovered tears and holes too. Since the campground was empty (it was early February), we stashed our food bags in the nearby bathroom and went back to sleep. Our food lived to see another day.
The next day, we relocated campsites to one with more trees so we could hang our food bags (using the PCT method) out of reach from squirrels and raccoons. There’s no way these guys were going to be able to reach our food.
We woke up and our food bags were still dangling in the trees, seemingly untouched. We outsmarted the raccoons! Or so we thought…
Later that morning, I dug through the food bag looking for my teriyaki beef jerky to pack for our upcoming day hike but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I knew it was in there, it didn’t make any sense.
So I started looking around camp for it. I found it! But the bag of jerky was empty and shredded up, just laying lifeless on the ground behind a rock. NOOOOO the raccoon got my jerky! I was devastated.
Apparently, even though we hung all of our food bags in trees, the bags were bunched up close enough to each other for these damn raccoons to hop onto and steal the precious jerky.
Don’t underestimate the tenacity and athleticism of Havasu raccoons!