A Guest in the Wilderness
I recently took off two work days for some hiking in northwestern Colorado. I had a unique experience at the Mount Zirkel trailhead. (Park Range, Routt County, Mount Zirkel Wilderness area).
Because the events happened between 1:00 am and 3:30 am, I have no pictures of my own to share on this page.
Porcs eat bark!
While sleeping in the bed of the truck, I was awoken by a porcupine scratching and chomping around the vehicle, only I didn’t know it was a porcupine. He eventually climbed up on the muffler, tail pipe, and axle, and made quite a racket right under the spot where I was trying to get some shuteye. Not knowing what was going on, I leaned way out and shined a light under the truck to identify the varmint. I yelled at him, shook the truck, and tried other means of shooing him off, short of getting out of bed.
As he continued to scratch and claw under the truck, I could not sleep, so I finally got up out of my sleeping bag and pulled on my boots. I grabbed a big stick and poked at him way up under the truck. He left a souvenir quill in my stick but refused to leave his perch. Not knowing how aggressive he would be, figuring that his night vision was better than mine, and fearful of the damage I might do to the truck, I stopped short of ramming the stick through his fat body.
Round One lasted from 1:00 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. It ended with the placid porcupine holed up in a nook on the frame of the truck.
A cool critter??
Frustrated, I lay back down, separated from the porcupine by the bed of the pickup truck. I grew sleepy within a few minutes, until he started up again, chewing and scratching under my truck! What is that varmint doing??
When I couldn’t take it any longer, I got up out of my sleeping bag again and pulled on my boots. This time I drove the truck around the parking area, with no small amount of swerving and jerking. Can you believe, when I stopped the truck, that varmint was still there! So I grabbed my big stick again, and poked at him more aggressively than before. He didn’t leave though, and I was flustered. I decided to try and sleep in the cab where at least it would be more quiet. Eventually, I heard one last scratch on the muffler, and then the night was still. It was too cold to sleep in the cab anyway, so presently I moved back into my sleeping bag. The time was 3:30 a.m. I slept until it was time to hit the trail.
Back home, I did some reading about porcupine behavior. Porcupines crave sodium in their diet. Electrical wiring and rubber are highly desirable to them, especially if salted. Great.
Porcupines Have a Point to Make (University of Georgia)
Porcupines are rodents. Porcupine photos on SP are rare, probably because these animals come out mostly at dusk or at night.