Klickitat county, WA
Nearest town: Trout Lake
Nearest road: Prefer Not To Disclose
Conditions: Sunny, warm
Time: early afternoon
Location: Forest road near Trout Lake, WA (Prefer not to be more specific- lava tubes with delicate formations unknown to non-caving public in the area)
Description of event: This is a compilation of experiences over a period of years; 1988- 2004 - feeling of being watched several times, strong, horrible smell once, numerous late night vocalizations and one brief sighting (2004).
My partner and I have been camping and caving in the Trout Lake area for about 20 years and are both very experienced in the outdoors, particularly in the Northwest. We are part of an NSS Grotto and have gone primarily to this area for caving.
The first encounter with something unusual was in 1988-89 on a caving trip in this area as we penetrated the forest, heading toward Mt. Adams from some clearcut to visit a familiar cave. Birdsong of various types is always present, but as we made our way toward the tree line, the birdsong and even insect noise seemed to cease. I looked up, no indication of foul weather or damp wind, indicating rain. Our group was familiar with the deep woods and a couple people noted that this was strange. For some reason, we all stopped in our tracks, even though no one had heard anything; everyone was looking around at each other and listening. Something seemed wrong. Then, I had a very strong sense of being watched from further in, not too far away, but did not tell anyone else. I have a feeling the others sensed this as well, and we all pushed quickly on to get to the cave, sticking close to one another. This happened on several trips over the years, usually afternoon, but not in the same location; the proxmity, however, was fairly close- all within about a 5 mile radius.
Another time, around 2003, my partner and I were dispersed camping alone, right next to a very seldom-used forest road in the same area. We got out of our vehicle to begin setting up camp as we had done several other times in this area and noticed an almost vomit-inducing stench. It was not the smell of something dead, it was like a combination of sun-baked garbage and feces. We decided that perhaps some local had driven back here and dumped their garbage, but then about 5 minutes later, the smell went away?? We walked, sniffing around the area a little and there was nothing, so we decided to camp there anyway, thinking that something must've just been carried on the wind, but it was still strange as to how strong it was.
We've also heard some late night sounds when camped at Peterson Prairie. Some dismissed them as coyotes. These sounds were like whoops, with several animals at once. I remember silently filing through the animal sounds that I'd heard in the wild: (elk, coyote, deer, cougar, wolf, owls, marmots, bear, human) in my mind and came up blank. Nothing matched. Still we tried to dismiss them as coyotes and went to bed.
But then in 2003, another type of sound in this area made my blood turn to ice water. It was August, about 11:30 at night at Peterson, as we wanted the "luxury" of camping where there was running water and outhouses. We were dousing the fire and about to head into the tent when from the north, about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile, it seemed, there began a howl. Not a wolf or coyote howl, but it almost reminded me of those emergency sirens you hear in rural towns. The pitch was quite low and then it raised to a higher tone and was held there for about 6-10 seconds, but was still low in tone. I thought about Pavarotti and some very skilled baritones that I'd heard in concert. I came to a sickeningly horrifying conclusion that in all the years of voice I'd studied and heard, not one human had ever uttered something at this tone, nor could they do it at this volume. The lungs of whatever was doing this had to be absolutely huge, and as in the forest, it echoed a lot, but it was *not* echoes that made it sound strange.
I looked at my partner, who was also startled and looking at me, and then we looked at some of the other campers across the scrub from us. They had stood up and were motionless, looking back at us and looking in the direction it was coming from. I asked, "What -is- that?" to my partner, who said he didn't know. We remained standing and it continued for about 2 minutes, then ceased. In all the years we have camped and caved in that area, (or anywhere, for that matter) we had never heard anything like that.
I have pretty much always been a die-hard tenter/backpacker, but tonight I couldn't sleep in the tent. I was too frightened with the realization that what I had just heard was impossible- simply impossible! No creature existed that could make that sound-- unless-- no way-- NO WAY! Then I remembered that this area had quite a few sightings of Bigfoot over the years. I just could not accept it, but I also could not sleep in the tent, so we got our bags and pads and slept in our truck that night. I barely slept, and was very glad to be leaving in the morning!
Well, foolish us-- we decided to go back to the area in 2004. (What was I thinking??) We camped at Peterson, as there was no freaking way I was going to camp dispersed in that area now. So we're there, visiting our favorite caves in the area and the last afternoon, we decide to go cave hunting. We bush-whacked through the grown-up vine maple in the remnants of a clearcut and split up and had planned on coming around to meet each other, as we knew this particular forest road curved around a bit. I climbed on top of a stump where an animal had been eating hazelnuts to get a better look around and the stump disintegrated suddenly. I ended up suspended upside down by my shorts and daypack in the maple. I had to yell for my partner to help me get out. After a few minutes, he appeared and I got both feet on the ground again.
I'd had enough bush-whacking for just then and decided to just meander down the forest road on some even terrain. So I headed toward the mountain on this road with my partner in the bush to my left. I noticed how warm it was and it was quite still. Nothing but the sound of my boots crunching on the packed gravel. Then I heard the gravel move behind me, probably about 25-30 yards. I swung around slowly, thinking that it was a cow, because this was also an open range area, and as weird as it seems seeing cows in the forest and clearcut, this was not uncommon at all. It sounded heavy, like a cow --oh----GOD----.
I felt faint, like I was going blind & seeing colors and shot up with some halucinogen all at once- I caught a quick glimpse of a HUGE, hair-covered, cinnamon-colored human-like thing that cleared the ditch in one stride (about 8 feet?)glide to the tree line in one motion and then stand absolutely still. (No, I did not hit my head when the stump disintegrated!!)
There I was, by myself, (was I breathing??) in the middle of this lonely forest road with a hairy (it seemed almost like semi-glossy fur?) cinnamon-colored shoulder and arm unhidden by the tree it was behind. The shoulder was absolutely massive, as was the arm, which was so long, it was almost as tall as I am. If I look, for example, at the door jamb in my office here, I'd put the shoulder's height at just under the bottom of the jamb. (OMG!!! I shudder to even think about this now!!!) I could see the contour of muscles under the hair/fur. It was obviously very strong. The hair/fur appeared to be about 2 inches long. I couldn't see the full hand as it was blocked by some undergrowth. So there it was, standing stock still, watching me, thinking it was hidden?
I've heard about people being paralyzed with fear and could never imagine that, but that's exactly what was going on. I thought I was going to die or something. I just really had no idea what was going to happen. I was completely defenseless. I wanted to move, but couldn't. I thought it might chase me if I ran. I could not turn my back on it. Survival mode must've kicked in somehow, because I remembered training about bears. I began to back away very slowly and spoke very quietly and was even tempted to leave my pack. It still didn't move. I must've backed down that gravel about 100 yards and since there was no movement still, I decided to risk it and yell for my partner.
I yelled for help at the top of my lungs and he answered, "Where are you??!!" I answered back and a few minutes later he came crashing through the underbrush, a look of panic on his face. He asked what was wrong and I told him a bear- he looked disgusted and was angry. He asked where and I pointed and he asked if it had exhibited agressive behavior. I said no, but he looked worried and started to look around and we headed away from the area. We cut through the vine maple in the opposite direction of my encounter and hightailed it back to the car.
It has taken me 4 years to even tell my partner what I saw. Fortunately, he's a pretty reasonable person and believes (with astonishment) what I've told him. Recently we've listened to recordings on the web of what people think are Bigfoot, and some of them sound just like what we've heard. The combination of smells, feelings & those sounds never fully registered as being connected until I found some Bigfoot sites on the web.
I will note that there was no smell during this encounter, but there was also no wind that afternoon. It was very warm. (Also, we weren't *that* close).
record updated:0000-00-00 00:00:00