So..up until very recently i've been a fan of tarps, particularly in the more open configurations.
Until Sat night and Sunday morning of this past weekend. Much earlier in the night, hanging out near a AT shelter, there was a strangely persistent and disturbingly unshy skunk that kept coming relatively close to a group of active, standing, talking people numbering probably around 9 total (i really didn't expect so many other people to be there, none were thru hikers either).
Despite there was a fire, despite several people throwing rocks and branches it's way to deter it, it kept circling around the area. Oddly, it never went into the defensive, spraying posture (all this worried me a bit, as rabies came to mind). He would run off a bit, as if semi scared, but would circle back around somewhere else, guessing he smelled food and figured an easy meal was to be had.
So, before we went to bed under our tarp in A frame style, i made sure to pee near both openings hoping this might provide a little deterrent to Pepe (hoping he was not rabid and still had some sense left).
But alas, Pepe sure lived up to his bold and persistent and curious reputation. A couple of times during the night, heard him (or her? probably a him due to rather large size) rustling right near the tarp, and woke up to staring at him peeking around the corner, a few feet away from our faces.
Not sure what to do, but getting rather sick of the visits, the 2nd time i stared straight into his eyes, and did my best and loudest growl and then hiss, which sent him running, and as far as i know, he never approached as close again. Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep that night, between my wife's snoring, paranoia, and Pepe's visits. (nor did the cold wind which really picked up and changed direction helped)
Kind of turned me off from open tarp backpacking. I know i shouldn't let one bad experience do this, but sheesh, i really don't ever want to go through that again. At least if we were in a fully enclosed shelter, we would have felt a lot less paranoid at an undue confrontation which could lead to spraying.
A couple of times throughout the night, really thought about getting up to the 2nd level of the shelter bunk, despite the even more bold mice.
Anyways, any morals of the story, not really, except watch out for Pepe. I'm still wondering if he is rabid, was just really hungry, or possibly a prior pet? I've never had this kind of experience with wild animals before except for shelter mice.