Road Tales: A Coyote Peed on My Face…Yes Really
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By: Talor Stone March 27th, 2018
A coyote peed on my face.
Yes. . . You read that correctly. A coyote peed on my face. Sometimes the crazy things that happen on the road are simply unbelievable, and that’s what the posts in my “Road Tales” series will capture. These are the unplanned, unthinkable, and downright unbelievable tales of life on the road.
Where, oh where do I even begin with this story! You may have heard the saying “It’s better to be pissed off than pissed on.” This little tongue-in-cheek quip is just a more crass way of saying, “Things could always be worse.” Well, I had the misfortune of actually testing this saying out in a literal sense and I can personally attest to its veracity! I would indeed rather have been pissed off than pissed on. But being pissed on will certainly also result in being pissed off! I’d like to tell you that I don’t know how I got here, but let’s face it, doing things the hard way is really the only way I know how to do them!
The Scene of the Crime
The scene of the crime was somewhere in the desert near Monument Valley, Utah. After a wonderful day of shooting the gravity defying rock formations, it was time to find a place to bed down for the night. In the fading light of the day, I drove to a remote area well off the beaten path where I figured I would not be bothered. I left my car tucked away on a dirt road, and walked a quarter mile to a seemingly perfect area which was free of debris and sheltered from the wind.
Yes, I realize I probably shouldn’t have done this. And no, it was probably not entirely legal. However, I just needed a few hours of sleep and as soon as the sun rose I would be on my way. It’s a gamble I take often and without prior issues.
By this point night was approaching rapidly and it was getting quite dark, so set up needed to occur with some urgency. I personally really dislike trying to establish camp in the dark, and this preference certainly influenced my decision to stay in this location even when I should have known better. I won’t lie. . . There were some warning signs that I should have heeded from the start.
Should Have Known Better
As soon as I parked I heard the coyotes. Now, I have had plenty of run-ins with wildlife but coyotes have rarely been at the top of my list of concerns. I have heard and seen them before and never had any issues. But this time it wasn’t just one lone coyote yipping in the night. It was a chorus of what was clearly a rather large group of them. But, in my urgency to set up camp, I rationalized that their voices were a fair distance away. They’re shy creatures anyway right? I opted to bring no food with me and figured that I probably wouldn’t be bothered. What’s the worst that could happen right?
Camp setup went off without a hitch, and in record time I was snug as could be in my tent. I use a tiny single-person tent by Alps Mountaineer which has lots of great mesh ventilation perfect for warm desert nights. This night was especially warm, so I opted to leave the rain fly off to allow the cool breeze to move through my tent.
Plenty of practice has trained me to sleep pretty heavily when I camp, easily ignoring the sounds of small critters. If I couldn’t filter out the ambient noises of nature then goodness knows I’d never get any sleep! So it was a bit of a shock to be jolted awake by the pungent smell of coyote urine as it splashed directly onto my face. I screamed half out of surprise and half out of pure rage. A coyote yelped and as I bolted upright I saw several furry tails disappearing into the night.
Pissed On = Pissed Off
In utter disbelief I scrambled out of the tent, grabbed a gallon jug of water, and began dousing myself and my tent with every drop of it. The smell was so strong that if it settled into my tent I knew I would be stuck with that lingering memory for quite some time. And let’s face it, that tent was my home. When this incident happened I was only halfway into my 4 month trip camping across the Southwest. In total despair and misery I bunched up all of my wet gear, not even bothering to store it properly, and huffed and puffed my way back to my car. I must have been a pitiful sight – angry, wet, wearing coyote cologne, and stomping around like a child throwing a tantrum. It’s moments like these when I wish there was a person around to bear witness to my misery. Someone I could complain to and that would inevitably provide some much needed levity by laughing at my state.
Once at my car, I doused my gear with more water and draped my tent over my vehicle to dry. Defeated, I climbed into the back of my tiny old Honda Accord and forced myself into a restless and unhappy slumber just praying for the sun to bring a better day.
The most I can make of it is that the pack of coyotes came to check out my tent during the night. They must have liked what they saw because they decided to mark it. Because I had left the rainfly off of the tent, that urine poured straight through the mesh and directly onto my face. Why do these things always seem to happen to me!?
There are probably quite a few takeaways from this particular incident. Take wildlife seriously, follow your instincts, be willing to abandon plan A even if it’s inconvenient, and ALWAYS use your rainfly! Goodness knows I’ll be carrying these lessons with me. . . along with some mild mental trauma. I hope you were able to have a good laugh at my expense and stay tuned for more hilarious Road Tales covering the unbelievable things that happen on the road!