Date: , 1970
Deschutes county, OR
Nearest town: Sisters
Time: pre-dawn hours
Description of event: Three Sisters, Oregon
North Mathieu Lake
Early in the summer of 1970, I quit my first engineering job at Lockheed in Georgia threw a bunch of stuff in an old station wagon, and headed west for an extensive backpacking vacation. Within a year I ended up in Arizona and resumed a regular life, but I had one remarkable experience in early August of 1970 that may be of interest.
I was driving through central Oregon and decided to spend a few days backpacking in the 3 Sisters wilderness area. I parked at a trailhead on the north side of the area and hiked in several miles in the early afternoon to North Mathieu Lake. This is a very picturesque lake in old growth forest and is situated along many acres of large piles of volcanic rock. Being early, I decided to hike to the next small lake (South Mathieu), but it was in a much more barren landscape, so I decided to hike back to North Mathieu and set up camp. I was camped on the NE corner of the lake; near the main trail about 30 feet from the water.
That evening as I prepared and ate dinner, I had the strangest feeling of being watched. I kept looking over my shoulder but saw nothing. I am an experienced outdoorsman and hunter, so I eventually dismissed these strange feelings as meaningless. I knew I was the lone camper on this quarter-mile long lake. Around dark, a windy front came through, so I crawled into my tent, zipped it up and went to sleep. At exactly 4AM (I carried a little clock with dials that glow) I awoke suddenly. The front had passed and there was only the mountain quiet. Just seconds later, I heard, "scrunch, scrunch, scrunch" — three footsteps coming toward my tent from near the lake. It was like the sound made when walking on a half inch of dry snow. The ground was compacted soil and some pine duff. The walking sounds continued around the back of my tent, stopped near and then went down in the lake direction.
The steps were obviously bipedal, and it did not make sense why a person would be in my campsite in the dark. I called out, "Who's there?" but got no answer. At one point, one of the tie ropes to my tent was lightly touched. For a couple of minutes, the steps continued. Making a final check that this was not a person (and having heard some of Bigfoot), I called out again, "I have a gun, and I'm coming out." (I did have a .22 pistol I carried, but I had no intention of coming out or using it.) No response. I noticed the sound of my own anxious breathing, and admit to being scared. For whatever reason, I got my shirt and pulled out the little compass/matchbox/whistle I always carried. I blew on the whistle, and the step sounds immediately carried off toward the north side of the lake and away. I was relieved and still quite incredulous.
In the morning light, I got up and did a thorough check for prints. The best I found was a couple of feet from the head of my tent. It was a right print with toe outlines showing, pointing towards the lake, and was 4" or so longer than my 8½ boot. It was also a couple of inches wider. The amazing thing is that it was maybe a ¼" deep in ground I could not leave a mark on with my lug-soled boots. It was immediately obvious that it would be very hard to fake the considerable implied weight. I also found three fainter prints on the small trail near the lake and a short distance from my tent. However, I did find one deep (but ragged) imprint in soft soil between the main and small trail, where something stepped down from the upper trail to the lower one that was several feet below. All of this was within 50 yards of my tent.
I never smelled anything or heard any other sounds. But I do know that a curious something, several times my weight and bipedal visited me and was not in the least worried about me. It also did not touch my backpack or food. I was spooked and cut short my backpack itinerary. A couple of years later, I went back to the same spot, more knowledgeable, this time hoping for a visit. Days of diligent exploring produced nothing, however. Needless to say, in the years that have ensued, I have become a very interested observer of the BF mystery. My experience adds little to the mix, but I will never forget it.
record updated:2002-07-09 00:00:00