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  1. #1

    Default Spence Field Mice / a force to be reckoned with

    I just got back from a weekend loop in the GSMNP and I'm done with shelters. Here's what happened:I normally don't use the shelters much but I got lazy and stayed at Spence Field on the AT last Friday night. I was the only one there and had a nice fire to dry out my shoes from the snowy trail:
    https://photos.smugmug.com/2018/Janu...9_193438-L.jpg
    I saw a few mice but they're always a part of shelters.
    Anyway, I had hung my pack on a nail (not worried as much about bears in January). When I woke in the morning and crawled out of my bag, puffs of down flew up in the air. Upon closer inspection I saw I had two holes in my bag! The little bastards had robbed me while I slept!But wait, there's more....I took my backpack off the nail and a mouse scurried up and out of the main compartment. Looking in I discovered all the missing down from my backpack. As I turned it upside down to dump it out, I poured out 4 more mice! The industrious vermin had transported all their harvested down to my pack and nested in it!I had murder in my heart. I hate to admit the ugliness but I tried to stomp them all. I didn't connect with a single one. They were obviously well rested and scattered in all directions. They garbage bag liner I use for water proofing had also been chewed through and pooped on. Here was the pile of tainted down I dumped out on the shelter floor ( I swept it up and out before leaving but I'm sure it'll be reclaimed):
    https://photos.smugmug.com/2018/Janu...DSCN4091-L.jpg
    My bag is tainted. My backpack is tainted. Nasty disgusting vermin put a bad vibe on my trip, lol. I had another night to go to finish my loop and I did, but I felt dirty.I'm gonna scrub out that pack with soap. Not sure about the bag yet.I put Band-Aids on the holes in my Western Mountaineering Lynx to stop the leaking while finishing the trip:
    https://photos.smugmug.com/2018/Janu...DSCN4105-L.jpg

    And here is the largest hole they opened and harvested:
    https://photos.smugmug.com/2018/Janu...DSCN4106-L.jpg
    Last edited by PatmanTN; 01-21-2018 at 19:27.

  2. #2
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    Curses! Patman, I feel your pain. Though not as bad as you do.

    One of the reasons I snapped up a deal on a bivy a couple years ago was for just such an occasion, to keep shelter mice off of me. Though I must admit, in my mind, it was more for the diseases they might carry and the general freak-out I'd have if they crawled on me directly. Maybe they'd have chewed through my bivy anyway; I've certainly heard of them chewing through packs to get at food. Maybe they'd be as aggressive if they could smell insulation too?

    Nice picture of your fire. The others should come with a trigger warning!

    I wonder if you can send the sleeping bag back for some service work, re-stuffing and fabric repair? As for the pack, was it chewed through or did you leave it open (as I've sometimes heard recommended)? If just the latter, yeah, I'd give that thing a lysol bath or something equivalently germ-killing. As for learning from the experience, do you think it would have mattered if you used any bear cables they had there? I wonder if it's advisable to do so even just for mice. Though Spence Field is infamous for problem bears, I can see why you may not have felt a need in January.

  3. #3
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    yeah, that stinks for sure.....I'd have been dreaming of setting up a sniper perch with night vision googles and a pellet gun and nailing each one of those suckers..... well that what I wanted to do years ago when i found squirrels had chewed the wiring in the attic of my first house..... then later the rats had invaded my next house.....

    Not too long ago the little suckers got into my RV. I felt violated for sure..... but I've learbed to let little things like this go. I buckled down, sat a whole bunch of different kind of traps. Caught only one then there were no more signs of any for a couple weeks, so I did a thorough cleaning pulling everything out.

    At least you don't have to worry about getting them out. About all you can do is stitch up the bag, clean everything, and let it go.

  4. #4
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    In 95 during a loop hike in the Smokies, we spent a night at Spence Field Shelter. A group of thru hikers was also there, and one was carrying a mouse trap. The guy would bait it with peanut butter. After 7 kills within about an hour of going to bed, he called it quits. My favorite is when one slips off a roof rafters during a run and falls into someone's face. As long as it's not you, it makes for some excitement. I'm sorry to hear about that nice bag getting chowed.

  5. #5
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    We always hang our packs from the bear cables. Mice can still get into them, but I would say that your chances are less than if you hang it inside the shelter.

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    Not the Smokies, but Blue Mountain shelter this past October: myself and three other hikers were just falling asleep when a mouse ran across my head. Talk about a surprise and some momentary excitement! No damage done, though.

  7. #7
    Leonidas
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    Quote Originally Posted by daddytwosticks View Post
    Not the Smokies, but Blue Mountain shelter this past October: myself and three other hikers were just falling asleep when a mouse ran across my head. Talk about a surprise and some momentary excitement! No damage done, though.
    Lol! I think we were there the same night, I remember someone mentioning that happening the next morning when I went to the privy.
    AT: 471 mi

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    Field mice and even squirrels are horrible in the Smokies, some of the animals get names they are so notorious, check the long books. This seems to be a result of their policies to concentrate impact of people in shelters, it changes the local ecology to almost a house like setting with way too many people living there and without the exterminator. I do find their policies as a great way to gather data on such high degree of management, though I do feel like their model is not the best outside of gathering data for comparison.

  9. #9
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Ouch!
    Never considered the possibility of mice attacking my gear directly (beyond looking for food).
    I guess I've been lucky for the most part. I've "only" had a mouse chew a hole in my food bag (#37 along Big Creek while hanging from bear cables) and some minor chewing around the drawstring closure of my pack (don't recall where).

    But I too have had a mouse start building a nest in my backpack. I don't recall the campsite, but I had left my pack hanging in a tree. I had recalled seeing a red ribbon on the ground nearby. Next morning, found the ribbon and some other tidbits where a mouse has started a shelter not "in" my backpack but on the exterior on top of one of an external pouch (the main compartment closure was folded over the pouch and made a small sheltered area on top of the pouch).

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by blw2 View Post
    yeah, that stinks for sure.....I'd have been dreaming of setting up a sniper perch with night vision googles and a pellet gun and nailing each one of those suckers..... well that what I wanted to do years ago when i found squirrels had chewed the wiring in the attic of my first house..... then later the rats had invaded my next house.....
    I had a bad squirrel and chipmunk problem (my fault for feeding the birds and having a garden). The squirrels were tearing up everything and the chipmunks were burrowing all over the yard. I got some Havahart traps and trapped and relocated over 90 of the fat and sassy rascals.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  11. #11

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    I've stayed dozens of nights in shelters and not had this brazen of an incident. My guess is the abnormally harsh winter has put them in desperation survival mode.

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    My guess is the abnormally harsh winter has put them in desperation survival mode.



    thats my thinking on this....

    between them wanting to get in the pack just for warmth, along with them going hungry from the lack of people dropping their crumbs in a shelter....

  13. #13

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    So, you hate meeces to pieces?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PatmanTN View Post
    I've stayed dozens of nights in shelters and not had this brazen of an incident. My guess is the abnormally harsh winter has put them in desperation survival mode.
    It could be your diet also. In my experience if ones diet is heavy in mouse food, grains ideally (wraps, beans, rice, noodles, etc), their pack may be a more tempting target then those who pack a more meaty & cheezy diet, which is not high on Mousie's favorite snack list (contrary to the mouse loves cheese belief). I've been in several situations where some, most and all other food bags have been mouse pilfered except for mine. The only time I have had it happen was when I was packing mouse food on my first backpack. As I found out that didn't work for me (both sharign with mice and that type of food) I switched and have not had a mouse snackmate since.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Puddlefish View Post
    So, you hate meeces to pieces?


    cause they leave feces.......

  16. #16
    Leonidas
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    Next time leave out your tp, maybe they will shred it instead of your WM bag! I mention it because that happened at one of the shelters we were at in July, someone left out their tp next to them on the upper loft and in the morning, there was a shredded pile of it. Some of it had fallen next to me on the lower loft.
    AT: 471 mi

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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    cause they leave feces.......
    Meeces feces in your fleeces is the worst.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Puddlefish View Post
    Meeces feces in your fleeces is the worst.



    they will rip them to pieces......

  19. #19

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    there would be no mice if people properly took care of their food and their food waste - this is entirely a problem created by hikers and can only be solved by hikers.

    don't want vermin don't feed the vermin.

  20. #20

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    Funny stuff guys! Oh and for those interested this what you get when backpacking the Smokies while the Government shuts down:

    IMPORTANT! WARNING/EMERGENCY MESSAGE REGARDING YOUR BACKCOUNTRY PERMIT -
    Great Smoky Mountains Backcountry Permits <GRSM_Backcountry@nps.gov>
    Do not reply to this message. This email address is used strictly for emailing reservation information.
    Dear Patrick Mason,
    country Permit -
    Entry Date: Friday January 19, 2018
    Exit Date: Sunday January 21, 2018
    Number in Group: 1

    NOTICE: Due to the lapse in federal appropriations, the National Park Service (NPS) is unable to fully staff the properties under its management. It is not feasible to close or otherwise prohibit all access to NPS properties. The trail and campsite network in the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park remains open and backcountry permits that have been issued remain valid. The Backcountry Office will remain closed until park facilities re-open. Please carefully consider the conditions, your safety, and your preparedness if you choose to continue with your intended itinerary. Park visitors are advised to use extreme caution if choosing to enter NPS property as NPS personnel will not be available to provide guidance, assistance, maintenance, or emergency response. Any entry onto NPS property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitorís sole risk.
    Please contact the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297 if you have any questions. The Backcountry Office is open every day from 8 am to 5 pm.
    Thank you for using the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Backcountry Permit System.





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