Alicia (screaming in whispers): Jesse! Jesse! What IS that?! What is that sound?!
Jesse (who had been sleeping): Whahumwhah?
Alicia: Jesse, WAKE UP! What the F@$# is that sound?!
We both listened to what sounded like children giggling. Well, children who had been possessed by Satan, but small demons for sure. There must have been at least 5 different â€œvoicesâ€. I could make them out pretty distinctly, and they were close. It didnâ€™t take us very long to figure out that we were dealing with coyotes. A pack had wandered into our campsite and was raising hell. My instinct was to make a bunch of loud noise. In general, there are very few animals who are attracted to big scary sounds. I had a whistle and a flashlight, but Alicia wouldnâ€™t let me get out of the tent. To her defense, I wasnâ€™t 100% sure they wouldnâ€™t attack me, but I was pretty sure. At one point, I heard what I thought was pawing at the side of the tent, and them some panting. I also heard hooves? I chalked it up to paranoia and delirium. After what seemed like an eternity, it all calmed down. Iâ€™m not sure I slept again that night, but I donâ€™t remember much after that until morning.
We talked to other campers the next day, and all the pieces came together. A pack of coyotes did enter the campsite. They were pawing around the tents (I found footprints within inches of my head). Also, they quieted down because a ranger had come through on horseback (hence the hooves) to scare them off.
We wanted a good hike that day. We were tired from being up all night, but wanted to make the most of our time there. We headed down the Bright Angel trail. Itâ€™s super steep, and there are resting stations at 1.5 and 3 miles down into the Canyon, and then the next isnâ€™t until like 7 miles (but thatâ€™s for people who want to hike down and camp).
We decided to go to the first station at least, and if we had it in us, go to the 3 mile point. The way down was a breeze, so we kept going to the 3 mile stop. Newsflash, hiking downhill is easy. The returnâ€¦ well, not so easy. Picture climbing a set of stairs with legs that are too short as someone shoots you with a jet of boiling water in the face. This is compounded by the fact that horses have used the trail which have left a variety of land mines and frothy pools to avoid stepping in. There is no avoiding the smell, and as you breathe heavily in the hot canyon air, you are suffocated by the smell of rotting organics. Anywayâ€¦
At the 1.5 mile station on the way up, there was a park ranger telling people not to continue down past this point. There was a storm coming in and they didnâ€™t want people getting caught in it. I pulled the ranger aside to have a chat with her.
Jesse: So, is it VERY common to have packs of coyotes wandering into your campsite?
Ranger: Pack?! No. They are usually loners, and are pretty skittish. In packs though, they can be like a pack of wolves â€“ pretty brazen.
Jesse: Oh, so whatâ€™s the best way to deal with them?
Ranger: Well, this morning at sunrise I was on my bike, and I saw one and started taunting it. You know, like yipping at it and making faces. It started to run at me, but then I just yelled and waved my hands and it got scared and ran away.
Jesse: Soooo, you yell at them?
Ranger: Yeah. Do you have a stick? Get a stick. That should do it. And make a lot of noise. Get some rocks. Ooooh, throw rocks, yeah.
I turned to Alicia and gave her the â€œI told you soâ€ glance. Indeed, you should get in their face otherwise theyâ€™ll take advantage of your hospitality and hang out all night near your tent.