It was a tortuous night.
Despite the mat Shawn had given me for under my sleeping bag, I still felt like the princess in “The Princess and the Pea”. I could feel every acorn, stone, and root. My hips and shoulders ground into the unforgiving bedrock of the island. What was the use of the extra fat especially around my hips if it didn’t provide insulation?
I flipped and I flopped, trying to get comfy. We all gradually slid down into the one corner of the tent several times and had to scootch back into our starting positions. Apparently we were on a gradual slope. At one point, Patrick’s feet were in my face and I made a mental note to give them a through scrub in the shower tomorrow as he had horribly bad foot funk!
As I lay trying to relax my muscles, still my thoughts and fall asleep, I kept hearing noises. At first, it was just the sounds of twenty some campers and counselors whispering, snoring, turning over in their tents. However as the night unfolded it sounded distinctly like scratching. I was imagining a hungry family of bears ransacking camp, eating leftovers and garbage. I knew that the counselors had washed all the dishes and put the left-over food and garbage into a barrel and had bear proofed it by hauling it up into a tree. I finally gathered enough courage to sit up in the tent, crawled forward to the triangular screened window above the tent entrance. In the light cast from the moon, I could see two raccoons rifling through the clean dinner dishes in hopes of finding some scraps. I looked up to the food barrel and saw a third raccoon attempting to crawl down the rope towards the barrel as it gently swung back and forth. His efforts were foiled by the tight seal on the barrel and he finally gave up and scampered back down the tree.
I felt some relief. Raccoons I could handle. They weren’t so terrifying. I thought they were kinda cute, actually. Until they wandered up to the tent beside ours and began to paw at the fabric, exploring, looking for a way in, chittering and growling. That’s when I remembered that I had some snack bars in my backpack. A jolt ran through me! What if they could smell it? Would they try to claw their way in? Had I zipped the door entirely closed, I wondered? I checked quickly and found that the zipper was secure. I glanced out the window again and watched as the raccoons disappeared behind the tents and out of my sight. I sat back down and listened. Sure enough, moments later, I heard the sounds of scratching and chittering at the back of our tent. I could see the shadow of a raccoon’s front paws patting at the material and the whole tent shuddered as a result. I grimaced as I held my breath. I could hear the sound of them sniffing the air, scrambling through the dirt and pawing all the tents. This went on for sometime, while I sat bolt upright, my ears pricked up, attending to every move and sound they made. After about an hour of this, my butt hurt and I could hardly keep my eyes open. I was reassured that the tent was raccoon proof and that we would not likely have to fend off a raccoon invasion.
I finally lay down. The temperature had dropped and I had started to get chilled, pulling the sleeping bag up over my head and zipped it up to my chin. I pulled Patrick in closer to me. He would be my human hot water bottle. Even so, I still shivered through the remainder of the night.
Shivering, flip flopping, chittering raccoons, sliding down into the corner of the tent. Rinse, repeat. It was a consistent, unwavering struggle. The entire night.
Finally, the sun’s rays peeked though the trees. The torment was over. I had slept possibly thirty minutes.