Another day, camped in the desert of Vizcaíno (Baja California), when the wind was blowing hard, I began to hear some different noises outside the tent.
Once, an experienced guide of the Colorado desert told me that the wind passing through the cactus makes the sound of women crying, whispering. Literature, according to her, is full of references to this “phenomenon”. I strained to hear. I held my breath to hear better. No, no they weren’t women.
They were steps. Rapid and they seemed to growl. I heard my bike make noise. Someone was messing with my bike!
Now what?! What do I do?! Think, breathe. I felt my face go hot. The bike creaked again, the person was rummaging through my panniers, probably the front ones!
I got out my pepper spray. I put my jackknife in my pocket. I unzipped the door to the tent very slowly. I just wanted to take a look.
Through the crack I saw four shapes around my bike. Two around the front panniers and two at the back ones. They were Coyotes! They pulled something from the outside pocket, oh no! I’d forgotten the jerky there!!! I didn’t know what to do!
The two at the front pannier dragged it a few meters. Now I brusquely opened the tent, making as much noise as possible. They were startled but didn’t run away.
Another came out of nowhere. It was a beautiful pack of five adults. The clear night let me see that one of them was almost tan, his fur was so light. They were startled but it didn’t seem they were thinking of giving up the food.
I positioned myself between the bike and the group that was in a semi-circle. This isn’t common behavior. Coyotes don’t form packs, even less one so large. We are in migration season (from December to March) which makes this event even more rare. Coyotes hunt alone, at maximum in pairs, packs are rare.
I yelled really loud! I tried to look bigger. I didn’t want to use the pepper spray. I remembered that the anti-bear spray was on the bike. I lowered myself without taking my eyes off them and got it.
I gave a first spray at the ground. The noise, perhaps the smell and a little capsaicin must have gotten in their eyes.
They drew back but didn’t run away! What defiant beasts! I went more aggressively towards them and this time I sprayed at snout level…
They ran away and disappeared among the cactus.
Packs of starving Coyotes can be more dangerous than you imagine. The behavior of this group insisting on getting my food put me on the alert. I took down the tent, got my bike ready and at 10:30 at night got back on the road, I needed to find a house with a fence where I could sleep. Twenty minutes later I came upon an empty shed. I camped in the back, I slept.
In the morning I went to check on the damage to the panniers: