Date:February 05, 2003
Hood River county, OR
Nearest town: Cascade Locks
Nearest road: Herman Creek Loop
Conditions: Dry, extremely windy, very cold
Location: Benson Plateau, off the Pacific Crest Trail. Our campsite (where the occurrence happened) was about 1/2-3/4 of a mile from where the plateau started off the PCT. The trail starts in Cascade Locks off of Herman Creek Loop road, and goes into herman Creek. Once past the footbridge (1 mile in), the trail goes from elevation 200' to 4670' in only 4.5 miles. After that, a ridge is traversed for approximately 2 miles that gains another 550 feet in altitude (losing altitude here, gaining some there). All in all, the trail is VERY steep. After traversing along the ridge and making one last steep push up another hill, the tyrail levels out into Benson Plateau. There is a little makeshift campsite about 1/2-3/4 of a mile in, and on the left.
Description of event: On February 4-6th, 2003, myself and two of my friends set out on a 3 day hike that would take us from Cascade Locks at the Herman Creek trailhead, up the Pacific Crest Trail, and into Wahtum Lake. It was a 26.2 mile loop that we knew would take a few days to conquer. It was originally supposed to be a snowshoe trip, but the deepest the snow ever got was about 18 inches. For the month, we could not have asked for better weather. It was very cold, but there was not a cloud in the sky for any of the 3 days we were out. If anyone has ever been up in the area of Benson Plateau, Ruckel Creek, or Wahtum Lake in the wintertime, they would also attest to there being NOBODY up there. We saw not a soul for 3 days, and there was nobody within miles. We reached our campsite the first day just as it got dark on Benson Plateau. The next morning we headed out for our ultimate destination, Wahtum Lake. The night before we decided to empty out as much weight as we could in our packs and take only what we needed, for the faster we could get to the Lake, the better we were assured of getting back to camp before dark. We emptied out some food and other various items, left them in our tent, and got our packs down to 30-35 pounds. We hiked the 5 miles to and around Mt. Chinadere and into Wahtum Lake. The three of us made it back to camp again just as the sun set. At around dusk, the winds on the plateau got very strong. The weather was already cold, about 25 degrees, and obviously the wind didn't help any. I read on NOAA's home page the next day the there were wind gusts from 40-60 mph around where we were camped that night. I am going to estimate that with the windchill, it was about 5-10 degrees that night. We were feeling pretty proud of ourselves for reaching our objective that night. We did what we went there to do, it was no picnic, and we were extremely happy that we did it. We knew that the next morning it was all down hill to the trailhead. So we made a nice fire (the wind helped us make a nice fire, even though it made it hard to start), made some dinner, and sat around laughing and talking around the fire, trying to keep warm. At around 9:30 we went into the tent, it was just to cold to stay outside anymore, and started playing cards for about a half an hour. We then shut out the light and laid down. My freind who was on the far right of the tent, farthest from me, was asleep when his head hit the pillow. But myself and my buddy who was in the middle satyed up for a while to shoot the breeze and tell a few jokes. I was right in the middle of a joke when, all of the sudden, there was what appeared to be a flashlight on the side of ther tent farthest from me (the right side). This light was about 2-1/2-3 inches in diameter, had about 3-4 radials in it, and had about a 1/4 inch diameter black spot in the middle, much like a mag light at close range. It made a few circles around the tent, lasting about 2-3 seconds, then clicked off. We could not, however, hear it click off because the wind was blowing. Both my buddy and I saw the light,and it was unquestionably a light emitted from a bulb. There is no possible way that the light was created from a rolling log in the fire pit, or the moon showing through the trees, or anything of that sort. This was a round light from a flashlight(or something of the sort)as if coming from a krypton bulb. the 2 of us went from talking and laughing, to completely silent and 100% still. We whispered very quietly to eachother to make sure that both of us just saw what we think we did. not 3 seconds later, we heard crunching on the ground. Within 10 seconds of that, our fire went from being a warm orange glow, and flickered almost completely out. The previous night we had snow in the tree above our tent and the fire pit. It had melted off through the day, and where our camp was you could walk just 100 yards to the south and you would've been at the snow line. The ground around our camp was very hard, and it was covered in a sheet of ice. So, we left the fire going moderately, hoping that the next morning we would still have some warm coals to warm up with. In a matter of 2 seconds, our fire went from a steady orange glow, flickered a few times, and then went to a very weak reddish/orange glow. 5 minutes later, it was out and completely dark. My friend and I were, needless to say, very freaked out by the events that were taking place. We shook the third meber of our party awake, and we realized that we had left a campshovel, and a hatchet outside of the tent. We called out to see if anyone was out there, thinking maybe it was a lost hiker, or a forest ranger who was out patrolling the area for some odd reason. But nobody called back. We sat there and listened, and again heard pacing and footsteps outside of our tent. This was not a pitter-patter of a 4 legged animal, or the pacing of a cougar or a bear. There was no sniffing, no sound other than pacing. And what's more, it was definitely a 2 legged something that was doing this pacing. The sound it made was a continuous "crunch...crunch...crunch", like a 2 legged being walking on an icy ground. We decided that we should go outside with out flashlights and see what was going on, and what was more, to get our hatchet and campshovel back. My friend on the far right grabbed his flare gun, the only weapon we had inside the tent, and we all threw on our thermal boots and pants, and went outside in a hurry. We looked all around the tent, shining lights everywhere, but saw nothing. No tracks, no nothing. The ground was very hard, densely packed dirt and ice atop of it. With our packs on, each of us weighed over 220 pounds, and we did not make a single track up there. We were jumping up and down the next morning to see if we could make tracks, or imprints, but we could not. Also, we were on a plateau that was dense with trees. There were trees everywhere, plenty of places for something to hide. At this time I was thinking that some psychopath was on the loose, or somebody was fooling with us. But then I started to put 2 and 2 together. There we were, literally in the middle of nowhere, 5200 feet up, 9 miles away from any sort of civilization (may as well have been 100), and the only 2 ways up to where we were was a steep 7 hour hike up Eagle Creek trail, or a steeper 8-8-1/2 hour hike up PCT. We were in our thermal underwear, wool socks, thermal snow boots, waterproof insulated snow pants, undershirts, long sleeve overshirts, and insulated North Face ski jackets, and we were freezing cold. There was NO way, it was impossible, for any human being to survive up there that night without fire and/or shelter, it just was not possible. If it just would have been a case of footsteps for a few seconds, a flashlight, and a fire that was put out, I might agree that there were some other hikers up there who just wanted to have a good time and mess with us. But after we went back into the tent, we heard the footsteps again. This time, they went from near the fire pit, and walked over to the tent, past where our feet were pointed, and went over to my side of the tent. There, whatever it was paced and paced for about an hour and a half. This threw out any notion in my head that it was a human being, it just was not physically possible for a person to be up there and live without shelter for this period of time. I myself am a cold weather fanatic, I love cold weather. But I was never so cold as I was on that trip on that night, it was extremely cold and windy out. There was never any sniffing or any other clanging around of objects you would hear from any animal. Plus, whatever it was, we scared it off twice, and it came back. What kind of animal gets scared off, or runs off, and continuously comes back, only to get closer? What is also more, obviously, is what kind of animal has a flashlight?I have had to tell myself "yeah, but bigfoot doesn't have a flashlight", but then I think, "well, we really don't know how intelligent they are. If a monkey can fly into space..." When we got back into our sleeping bags, my friend who was sleeping (the one that did not see the light) tried to convince himself it was just some animal for the sake of being able to sleep. The next day he admitted that he knew that whatever it was had 2 legs. My other friend and I agreed to try and stay awake for as long as we could, maybe take turns on a "watch". It had been such a long trip, and such a physically demanding one, this was hard to do no matter how scared we were. After my one buddy dozed off, my other friend that had agreed to stay awake with me dozed off and both started to snore. Te pacing continued for nearly 45 minutes, not more than 7 feet from the tent,and there was nothing else. No sounds, no calls, no grunts, nothing. It was very starnge feeling, but I almost felt like whatever it was, was waiting for me to sleep. Even though I made no sound at all, it felt like something knew I was awake, and was waiting for me to sleep. I decided to rip off a few fake snores to see what would happen, just out of curiosity. After my 3rd "snore", the flashlight appeared AGAIN on the right side of the tent. Again, it made 3 or four circles. I woke up my friend who was next to me hastily. As soon as I did so, the light went off, and the walking outside of the tent stopped. This time I got a really good look at the light, as there was no orange glow from the fire outside the tent. It was completely pitch black dark outside, and this light came from literally nowhere. We awoke my other friend, and we all talked and agreed that it had not yet messed with the tent, it hadn't moved it or anything, and was not threatening us yet. Plus, none of us knew if we really WANTED to rush outside this time.We all knew that somehow this time whatever it was would not run away, and we may then be in a world of hurt. So we laid there in our tent for awhile, trying to stay awake but unable to. After about 10-15 more minutes, the pacing ceased and all there was was the wind. I tried to stay awake to see of whatever it was would come back, but I could not. When we awoke the next morning, the only thing that was disturbed was the fire. It was slightly wet (like someone had thrown snow on it)and it also had a mixture of ash and dirt on top of it. Again, all the snow in the tree had melted and fallen off by the second day, so there is no way the snow came from the tree. Otherwise, no tracks, nothing molested or disturbed, no nothing. There was no smell or odor at anytime during our occurrence or anything else. We quickly picked up camp that cold morning, and headed back down quickly and safely. I have no idea if what this was was bigfoot. I really do not know for sure if this was sasquatch, or some other phenomena. I do know this: It DEFINITELY had 2 legs, and it was NOT a human. I guess I am just looking for some insight, some sort of feedback on what this may have been. So far, bigfoot has been my best guess. Something else unusual that I did not even think of until about 3 weeks after the trip: On our way back to camp from Wahtum Lake, about 2 miles past Mt. Chinadere, we all 3 heard a starnge call that sounded like a cross between a moose and an elk. I thought it was just me, but then not 2 seconds later my friend (who is from Colorado) said "they don't have moose in Oregon, do they?" I asked him if he heard it to, and they both said they thought they heard what sounded like a moose, or a cross between a moose and an elk. It was a low-pitched, but very powerful coo-ing noise, probably comeing from a ways off. We were pretty high up, and it was really cold out there, and snowy where we were when we heard it. Maybe it was just an elk, I'm not sure, but it just seemed strange for an elk to be out and about at that time and place. Any incite on this, from anyone, would be appreciated. I do also know that there have been a few sightings around this area from Herman Creek to Ruckel Creek, and any info would be useful. It is difficult to talk about sometimes, and I try not to think about what it was or may have been when I am alone. I would like to come to some sort of conclusion on this so I can put it to rest.
Editor's note: This is similar to an experience I had in WA. You can read about it here. If you would like to contact this witness, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
record updated:2003-03-10 00:00:00