I had mentioned in my previous tale of our Idaho bike tour that we had one long, challenging climb followed by a bit of late-day ridge running sans water, looking for a decent place to camp, and we were blessed with a nice little pond that was not marked on the map that was our salvation (I’m being a little melodramatic, but Ash likes to point out that I’m a food and water weeny; I get unusually twitchy when I anticipate a dearth of either or both). When we saw this foot-deep “pond” (practically a puddle; I’m guessing that it dries up later in the year) our first concern was mosquitoes, but as it turned out our nemesis turned out to be much bigger and more ferocious:
As we threw down our bikes and started the quick process of “camping” we noticed a deer wandering around the woods near our pond. We barely gave it much of a glance; they are pretty much large mice and we were pretty intent on bathing, rehydrating, and eating. We were a little surprised that it stayed in our area and was clearly not afraid of us at all; you see a lot of tame deer in national parks and the like due to the plethora of people, but as mentioned earlier, we were literally in the wilderness on our bikes and usually in more remote areas deer are pretty easily spooked.
As we finished dinner and the light waned Ash went through her nightly ritual of getting everything she wasn’t sleeping with all zipped up: food, clothes, book, and even her helmet all went into her panniers that were closed up tightly. I did the same with the food I had to avoid critterfeeding, but the rest of my stuff was pretty loose around the area. No big deal.
As the night wore on, the deer – which was sort of cute and endearing earlier – became a pretty significant problem. It kept tromping around near by, and Ash heard it “given’er” chomping on stuff. I mostly slept through it all – though at one point I did wake up, get up, and nearly blow out my shoulder winging a rock in the deer’s general direction – but Ash was doing a bit of battle trying to scare it away a good chunk of the night. Finally the deer seemed to move along and she was able to get a few hours of sleep.
When we awoke Ash went over to the pond to get some water and said “why’s your camera way over here? and your glasses are over there, and your helmet’s near the pond?” It quickly became apparent that my helmet, headbands (I was using a couple of them), and gloves were great salt licks for the deer. It had literally stripped all the foam fit pads out of my helmet, and the great sweat repository of the chin strap was absolutely licked clean (albeit with a bit of deer slobber on it). The deer had indeed given’er so hard on my chin strap that it had broken the buckle, so in order to make the helmet work I had to engage a bit of bailing wire:
My gloves, which just that day had caught my gaze as I had marveled at a) how long I’d had them, and b) how incredibly tattered and gross with sweat and snot stains they were, are now very likely adding some nice purple color to some deer pellets in the area. Amazingly, my cycling shorts were unscathed, which is probably attributable to the fact that I had rinsed them out in the pond water and therefore doused the considerable sweat stains that had been created the day before.
So have I learned my lesson, and will I follow Ash’s lead in the future and button up my stuff as thoroughly as she does? Unfortunately that’s probably unlikely, but at least that deer got a rare nice evening of dining with plenty of flavor.