Back in July, Alan and Jesse from Fathom Frontiers and I were researching a private property that had Bigfoot activity. While chatting over the camp fire we tossed around the idea of having an event where people can join us in the woods and learn some basics of Bigfoot research. We didn’t have a whole lot of time to plan a grand excursion, but within a month, the concept of The Salt Fork Bigfoot Experience was developed. Artwork by Nancy Lorenz of Perth, Australia
I arrived at the group campground around noon on Friday. The air was crisp with the smell of fall. I let out a few whoops and loudly announced to the trees and all inhabitants of the trees that I was there and hoped we would have some interaction with them later. Them being ANYTHING! I just love when raccoons and possums check out the camp.
Alan and Jesse arrived soon after. They had been retrieving the trail cams from the private property where they had been since July. With them there, I headed to the local Wal-Mart to pick up the food and beverages for the weekend. We had no idea how many people were going to show up so I made sure I bought plenty.
When I returned to the camp, the guys had set up the registration table and one of our guests, Jay, had already arrived and was setting up his campsite. We unloaded the supplies and eagerly waited for the rest of our guests to arrive. From 3 to 5 pm we greeted Chris, from Connecticut, Jen and Jay from Virginia, Bill T. from Steubenville and Jeff C. from Dayton. After everyone set up their tents, we gathered around for the first session of the day. Dave, Dakota and Judy B. arrived with the pastries I had ordered and we invited them to join us for awhile. Alan and Jesse demonstrated how to set-up and deploy trail cams. We wanted to bait the camera so we would be able to catch an animal on the game trail. I dumped a bag of Cheetos on the ground between the trail cam and the game trail, why not? lol We then found another point to set up the other trail cam and used some left over bratwurst to bait that area. This became referred to as the “Polish Christmas Tree”. What follows the traditional decorating of the Polish Christmas tree? Well, the ceremonial hanging of the Jiffy Jar where couples are supposed to kiss! We started a whole new tradition that night and lots of laughs were had by all; Judy even composed a poem about the Sasquatch Christmas!
We then returned to camp and started the fire for a dinner of hot dogs, hamburgers and turkey burgers. We wanted to mingle and fuel up for our night hike with Salt Fork’s naturalist, John Hickenbottom.
We met John at 8 pm and proceeded to hike down the Shadbush trail. The moon was almost completely full and there was an autumn chill to the air. As always, John was very informative and knowledgeable. (Look for John’s fun facts at the end of this article) We tried to call the Barred owls but got no response, then we heard a pack of about 10 coyotes barking, howling and on the move! The hike lasted about an hour and a half and we returned to camp and talked and laughed around the campfire till the wee hours of the morning. Chris had been the first one to retire to his tent, and you know what that means. I sort of baited the area around his tent in hopes of drawing in some critters to mess with him. To my disappointment, the only critters stirring that evening were the coyotes and the Canadian geese which sadly I report, are protected by the government and cannot be shot! Those geese never stopped honking all night!
The weather forecast for the evening claimed the low would be 55 degrees, which would have been perfectly acceptable. However, at 3:30 a.m. the temp had dropped to 40 degrees and I was freezing my butt off! The geese were still honking away as I laid shivering in my tent listening to the sounds of something large pacing the perimeter of the campground. The way our tents were set up resembled a large U shape with the trees to the rear of each tent. I could hear something large, pacing from one end of the camp to the other, slowly walking and crunching large branches. I unzipped a portion of my tent window and peered out waiting for whatever it was to work its way back to my side of the camp. I had my iPhone in hand ready to snap a picture when I realized how ridiculously similar to the “Cell Phone Hoax” this was so I said, screw this! I unzipped my tent and walked to the edge of the woods and listened. The geese were still blasting their fool heads off but whatever had been pacing was gone.
To be continued….
Fun fact from John Hickenbottom: Coyotes will occasionally eat a fawn’s stomach, but only if it is still surviving solely on milk for the cottage cheese-like protein. Once the fawn starts eating solid food, coyotes avoid the stomach.