After the bridge, once again, the trail started climbing. (after all, I had come down 6000 feet in elevation that day, I needed to get back up again!) Fortunately, there were lots of graded switchbacks, not the steep slide into a canyon like the day before. I was passed by a couple of day hikers out for a short afternoon hike.
"Wow!" I said "The views here are spectacular!"
"Just wait," the said. "It gets even better."
BOOM! I was jolted awake, my trekking poles were clattering together and my tent was shaking. "What the?"
BOOM! It happened again. Something was bumping my tent!
I grabbed my headlamp and shined it out, yelling out "Hey! Get outta here!" I heard feet running away. Ok. that should do it. I put my light away and went back to sleep.
BOOM! It was back. Some animal, whatever it was, was bumping my tent again. I had scared it away, but not for long. What the heck was this thing's problem? And what kind of animal bumps tents? It was not going after my food (normal animal behavior). It was not chewing on my sweaty bandana (disgusting, but normal animal behavior). It was not rummaging through my stuff and trying to climb into my pack (annoying, but normal animal behavior). No, it was BUMPING MY TENT! Again, I shined my light out, yelled, and this time banged on my cook pot noisily. It ran away.
For a while.
And then it was back. Over and over again, all night long.
Can I tell you- when something bumps your tent in the middle of the night, you go from completely asleep to completely awake instantaneously. Heart pounding, gasping, jumping up and yelling into the night. In between the tent-bumping-animal-visits, I slept fitfully with unnerving dreams. I dreamed I was being stalked by a mountain lion. I dreamed I was stuck in the Blair Witch Project. I dreamed of Leonardo Dicaprio riding his horse off a cliff and then sleeping inside its carcass. I dreamed of the Walking Dead.
When morning came, I felt horrible. I was exhausted and sleep deprived. My quads, feet, and shins were sore. I had a headache. I was battered and bruised from falling on my way down the steep canyon. And I was still a little upset that I was denied a cheeseburger yesterday.
I lay in my tent for a while, willing myself to get up, dressed, and break down camp. To start climbing again, and to get myself to the water at the trailhead. I did no want to do it. I did not want to put my pack on, I did not want to climb. I did not want to do this. I just wanted a cold drink and a frickin cheeseburger. This was no longer fun.
Past through hiking experience has taught me that when you start to feel like this, a town day is generally in order. I was only 4 miles from the road. I got up, put my pack on, and walked back down the hill to the road.
I got a ride into town in about 5 minutes, found a hotel with vacancies, and checked in. I took a shower, climbed in bed, and slept for about 2 hours. Then I went out for food. But I didn't get a cheese burger. I got a burrito.
After talking to people in town, at the hotel, and the guy who gave me a ride into town, I am pretty confident that the animal bumping my tent was either a javelina or a coati.
Javelinas apparently are very territorial and have pretty poor eyesight. They can be a bit aggressive if they feel threatened. And several people relayed that javelinas regularly bumped trashcans, shed, or cars.
So there you have it. I was being terrorized the night before by either Pumbaa or Timon.
After a bit of sleep and some food, I felt a lot better. I did want to keep hiking. But I DIDN'T want to be subject to the whims of small town store clerks who decided to close early on a whim. (This had actually happened to me a couple other times before Roosevelt Lake) I was going back for the car. No problem.