What a night. Laying in a toasty sleeping bag on a cold desert night staring at millions of stars just overhead. Camping in a tent is nice, but cowboy camping with nothing in between your eyes and the sky is pure. The way camping ought to be. A few distant howls of coyotes can be heard, but they are not enough to disturb tonight’s sleep. Your hiking-partner’s snoring will not even be an issue because you remembered earplugs this time. The heaviness of your eyelids leads to a deep slumber filled with dreams of cheeseburgers, pizzas, ice cream and that mouse crawling in between your leg and the sleeping bag.
There is an actual mouse crawling in between your leg and the sleeping bag! In a sleepy stupor, you fly out of your sleeping bag and try to find a headlamp. Turning on the bright beam and awakening everyone camping nearby, you search everywhere for the furry little rodent to find nothing. The no good snickers eating rascal is still out there lurking about. As you look at your watch, only thirty minutes has passed since you first fell asleep. What a night it will be…
For most thru hikers spending time in the shelters of The Smokies on the Appalachian Trail or the woods of Washington on the Pacific Crest Trail, a run-in or two with some sort of critter in their sleeping bags is common.
Through multiple encounters with unwanted backwoods bunk-mates, we decided to compile a list of a few ways to put a dent in your rodent problem. If the tricks we have used to combat this incident from happening do not help you, hopefully we can at least help shed some light on ways to cope with this inevitable problem.
How to (Almost) Guarantee a Mouse-Free Night
Nightly Anti-Mouse Checklist:
Do not cook in your sleep clothes.
Do not cook near your sleeping location.
Make sure all food wrappers are removed from your pockets and placed in your waste bag.
Use scent proof food bags such as Loksaks.
Hang a food bag if there are trees in the area.
Set up a fully enclosed tent or bivy.
Use mouse-proof kevlar bags or bear canisters to assure that your food is untouched.
Hike with a dog.
Take notes from the 1997 blockbuster “Mousehunt.”
Set out a “Do Not Disturb” sign before going to sleep.
Construct a few booby traps. (ex. small, mouse sized versions of traps found in Indiana Jones, The Goonies or the game of Mouse Trap)
Hide food products in your hiking partners sleeping bag.
Get your falconeering license and travel with a trained majestic eagle.
Accept the Mouse
Understand that you most likely set up camp on the mouse’s home.
You are really warm and really smelly. What more could a mouse ask for?!
It could be way worse. At least mice understand how to escape your sleeping bag once they have been discovered. Beetles have no sense of direction, skunks usually overstay their visit and bears do not realize how big they are and might accidentally destroy your sleeping bag if they try and cuddle. Oh, and don’t get me started on snakes.
No matter what happens, do not fear the mouse. Even in the worst case scenario where a herd of mice eats all of your food, it makes for a good learning experience and a good story. In fact, we want to hear your mouse stories. Please comment below and include any pointers you might have that we have left out.