I headed out yesterday on the WhiteBlaze "No Hiker Left Behind" trek in Harriman State Park.
The trip started well, with me walking in with "Just Bill", an 'imaginary friend' that I was meeting for the first time in person. Fellow hikers "1azarus" and "Malto" hiked in to meet us. Malto slept in the shelter with me, while Just Bill and 1azarus hammocked nearby. We settled in companionably, spinning tales by the fire as hikers do.
This morning, I bailed out on the rest of the trip.
It wasn't because of the cold, although up on the ridge it fell to near 0°F (-18°C) if not below. I was bundled up, warm and dry. I was close to the limit of what my gear can handle comfortably, but still within it.
It wasn't the fact that I awoke when Malto decamped in the night. I got right back to sleep after he left. He was back in the morning.
It wasn't the raccoon dragging my (empty) pack out of the shelter, although it's a bit starting to wake up in the wee hours to find a raccoon six inches from your nose dragging your pack away. He also got quite a head start on me, since I needed to work my way sleepily out of a completely-battened-down sleeping bag (How do these draft collar, hood, and zipper things work, anyway?) don spectacles and headlamp, and put on frozen boots before I could give chase. I found that he'd also stolen Just Bill's pot. In which he never does anything but boil water. Well, they do like shiny things.
It wasn't the subsequent awakening by some other campers coming by the shelter wondering what the hollering was about.
It wasn't the subsequent return of the raccoon looking for something else to steal. Everything was out of his reach.
It wasn't the commotion of the other campers as the 'coon decided he'd find easier pickings in their tent.
It wasn't even that all of these things combined to a night of much-interrupted sleep.
No, it was the early rumblings of a stomach bug that finally convinced me to call it quits. Combined with the fact that the little marauder had stolen my toilet paper. And the fact that my various medicines, along with a few other very important small items (spork!) had not made it into my pack.
I'm glad I came home to rest. Today would have been uncomfortable in the woods.
If by some chance I'm feeling much improved in the morning, I'll try to meet the remaining stalwarts in Doodletown.
Just Bill proposed a new trail name for me: Sleeps with Raccoons.
Every trip an adventure...