Man recounts nocturnal "cougar monkey" screams, commotion on family camping trip along the Grande Ronde River file# 05597


Date: , 1969
Umatilla county, OR
Nearest town:
La Grande
Nearest road:
Hiway 30?
pre dawn dark hours
We drove out of La Grande north for about 2 hours. That is 1969 hours in 10 year old cars half the time on a dirt road and a lot of time on what I thought was a wagon trail until there was no trail then we parked. Grandma said it was the Grande Ronde River.


Description of event: I was telling my friend about "The cougar monkey" When he suggested that I look for web sites that have sound of "Big Foot". That is how I came to this website 40 years after the fact. About the time we landed on the moon I was in La Grande Or for a family get together. There is a place on the La Grande Ronde River 2 hours out of La Grande where we would go camping. We would pitch a tent for the kids and two tents for the adults and everyone would do their thing. The place we went to had a wide bend in the river which made it a natural swimming hole with little current and it was deep enough to swim in and pretty safe for us kids. The grownups would go upstream and fish. Mom or our Aunts would hang out in the camp. Back then, the only thing kids had to worry about were snakes and when we got tired of swimming we would explore. My cousins and I explored that entire area, for a couple of miles in every direction. We were alone.
Everything was normal until the middle of the night. I didn't have a fancy watch back then so I don't know what time it was but it was deep in the middle of the night 3 or 4 hours before sunrise. I woke up to the sound of what can only be described as a cougar monkey. I have never heard anything like that before, or since. In 1969 no one talked about Bigfoot and until reading a post on this website I didn't put "Old Man from the Mountain" together with big foot. Grandpa would say things like he's going to get you. Old man from the mountain was something that my Grandfather's generation discussed and my Father's generation scoffed at. From behind my Tonka truck underneath the pinochle table I thought it was just a variation on the Bogey man.
Back to the story. I woke up scared out of my britches because of what I heard. I couldn't believe that my cousins could sleep through the racket and I was too afraid to wake them up. Up the river, was the sound of breaking branches. It sounded like someone was swinging branches into the trees and breaking them. These were big branches and the sound they made were big thuds against the tree trunks. These were not sticks. You would hear one or two thuds and then the crack and sound of splitting timber. In the river valley at night, in the pristine wilderness, sound travels along way. I could tell the sound was a ways off, maybe half a mile, but it was way to close. Every hair on the back of my head stood upright and I remember shaking with fear. The vocalizations were something a large ape or monkey would make and then it would scream like a cougar. If you have ever heard a cougar at night ... then you know what I am talking about. It is not the happy peace loving sound of a couple of coyotes singing to the moon or a grouse or magpie or elk ... it is the sound of a predator and when couple with the sound of a large primate and breaking sticks, it is a sound that I will never forget. Just so I am clear, this was a primate. It hooted and hollered as you would expect any large primate to do and then when it screamed like an enraged man or a large cat, it made the piercing scream of a cougar sound common place and placid.
In the morning the adults broke camp early and we were on the road before noon. There was coffee and bacon and eggs and the general fixens but not a lot of talk and the kids weren't off running all over the place. We stayed close to camp. I never spoke of it to my cousins and I asked my Dad that morning about the sounds form up the river. At first he pretended not to know what I was talking about but when I pressed him he said it was probably another group of campers up the river that had a party that was out of control. I smiled and helped him put things back in the car. We went from a highway to a road to a dirt road to a trail and then drove through high grass to the campsite ... I doubt there was anybody up the river and we never went back there again.

record updated:2011-10-26 02:23:38