Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 North Georgia Expedition (GA EXP-2)


PREFACE: There were two (2) separate BFRO North Georgia Expeditions this year: Sept. 22-25, and Sept. 29 - Oct. 2. They were conducted in the same location, but will be referred to as GA EXP-1 and GA EXP-2, respectively.

Read the notes for GA EXP-1 -HERE-

LOCATION: The North Georgia Expeditions were conducted in a remote section of the Chattahoochee National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The base camp sat directly adjacent to a small tributary of a large river situated in a north-south running river valley, which extends for several miles and connects to many other small valleys. The location was easily one of the more remote and beautiful places in North Georgia.


In total, there were 32 GA EXP-2 participants. The participants came from OK, GA, NC, FL, SC, AL, WI, MI, and TN. 

I arrived late Wednesday night with Jason Vogan (NC-BFRO). We were the only people in base for the first evening. 


-- DAY / NIGHT ONE -- 


As I had seen nearly all of the river valley that we would be operating in, I opted to stay in base camp and help other participants get oriented, and to discuss the previous week's expedition with the new arrivals. 


My plan for the first night was to head into the southern portion of the river valley; heading in through the same ingress as the previous week to see if the resident sasquatches would approach again. 


We dispersed participants in teams with the same designations as the previous weeks. The teams were as follows:


"Alpha" - Matt Pruitt, GP, SB, SB, GW (Southernmost)
"Bravo" - CP (NC-BFRO), JD, LD, EW, BC
"Charlie" - MB, RD, MK, JP, KH
"Delta" - Jason Vogan (NC-BFRO), MB, JB, JS, RI (Position at the "Approach Location" from GA EXP-1)
"Echo" - Joee Cuva (FL-BFRO), MH, CH, LH, CC, TA

Once the teams had reached their respective locations, various team members heard suggestive sounds in the environment around them. 

"Delta" team (in the original "Approach Location") had the most sustained and dramatic encounter of the two North Georgia Expeditions; an extended interaction involving rock-throwing, strategic stalking, and a Class A sighting through a night vision monocular. 


Watch the video below for Jason Vogan's account of what happened that night:



-- DAY / NIGHT TWO -- 


Day Two marked the arrival of additional BFRO members John Hall (GA-BFRO), and Mary Mallon (CO-BFRO).



Attempting to effectively cover each area that had yielded significant activity, teams were placed in both the "Approach Location", as well as the location where multiple vocalizations were heard and documented the previous week (further north in the river valley). 


The teams were as follows:


"Alpha" - MK, RI, RD, KH, Joee Cuva (traveling north in the river valley on foot from base camp)
"Bravo" - CP, JB, MB, JS, GW (walking a ridgeline above the river valley)
"Charlie" - Jason Vogan, SB, SB, EW, BC, GP (walking a different ridgeline above the river valley)
"Delta" - MB, Mary Mallon, LD, JD, TA (traveling south on foot in the river valley beyond the "Approach Location")
"Echo" - Matt Pruitt, John Hall, MH, CH, CC, LH


Very little was seen/heard on Night Two, and high winds forced the two teams on the ridgelines to head back to base camp early. 


-- DAY / NIGHT THREE --


A team was assembled to systematically occupy the "Approach Location" for the final night. I, and several others, moved in and around the location trying to elicit another approach to no avail. 


Meanwhile, there were several compelling incidents during Night Three that suggested to us that the sasquatches were approaching the base camp. This is consistent with suspected activity on other BFRO expeditions across the continent. 


Rather than try to paraphrase or recount those incidents, I will let the expedition participants who heard those suggestive sounds describe their experiences on the BFRO Public Forum thread dedicated to the expedition HERE.




Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 North Georgia Expedition (GA EXP-1)

PREFACE: There were two (2) separate BFRO North Georgia Expeditions this year: Sept. 22-25, and Sept. 29 - Oct. 2. They were conducted in the same location, but will be referred to as GA EXP-1 and GA EXP-2, respectively.

LOCATION: The North Georgia Expeditions were conducted in a remote section of the Chattahoochee National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The base camp sat directly adjacent to a small tributary of a large river situated in a north-south running river valley, which extends for several miles and connects to many other small valleys. The location was easily one of the more remote and beautiful places in North Georgia.

In total, there were 22 GA EXP-1 participants. The participants came from OK, GA, TN, NC, VA, SC, FL, and OH.

I arrived Wednesday afternoon, as did Morris Collins (GA-BFRO), JE, JMc, JH, JH, GS, GH, SF, PV, RC, and LC.

After setting up camp, we made a plan to conduct a small night operation on the ridge to the northeast of camp. We didn't hear any responses during the preliminary operation.

-- DAY / NIGHT ONE --

On Thursday, Sept. 22, amongst several small rain storms, many of the new participants arrived. During a break in between the thundershowers, I lead a group north on a trail that paralleled the river. I was accompanied by JE, JMc, JH, GS, PV, RC, and LC. The area was dramatically beautiful, and the trail was conducive to sending one or more small teams to conduct night operations.

After our scouting exercise, LC used his mountain bike to explore another area. He had a wonderful find; a large meadow with an old, degraded road bed leading into a narrow section of the river valley south of camp. The road bed had been bermed years ago, and the old road bed had become an overgrown, narrow trail. He contacted me via radio to tell me about his find, and JE and I scouted the area with him.

After arriving back at camp, I conducted the first group meeting. I discussed LC's find, and began preparing for night operations. Unfortunately, more rain and thunderstorms were predicted to hit us sometime between 10PM and 1AM. JE and I made the drive up the ridge from base camp to the nearest cell signal every 30-45 minutes to keep an eye on the storms. We knew it would hit; but no one knew exactly when it would reach our section of the mountains.

The last thing that I wanted was to disperse people far away from base camp on foot only to have us all be caught in a heavy rain storm. I made the decision to stay in camp and wait out the storm. It certainly wasn't easy, as we were are very eager to head in to the woods. The rain hit us around 1AM, and it poured for almost five (5) hours.

-- DAY / NIGHT TWO --

Having lost a night to the storm, the expedition participants and I mobilized ourselves readily and energetically to scout the area that LC, JE, and I saw the previous day. A large group of us entered the area on foot and followed the degraded trail south until we hit a large, deep bowl in the terrain. We were very near the headwaters of the river that formed our valley. Now that most of us had seen the area during the day, we had a better understanding of how to move around in there at night.

During the second night's meeting we dispersed the participants into teams based on how far south into the river valley they would be placed. Since we would be strung along the same winding trail in a narrow section of the river valley, we used the NATO phonetic alphabet table to assign team names.

The teams were as follows:

"Alpha" - Matt Pruitt, MW, JE, RC, JMc (The Southernmost)
"Bravo" - LC, PV, DS, PC, BI
"Charlie" - KZ, JC, BC, KA, GH (The three females on the expedition were in this group.)
"Delta" - Morris Collins, CK, JH, JH, DH
"Echo" - GS, SF (The Northernmost)

After the teams arrived at their respective locations, we began coordinating sounds. The two northernmost teams ("Echo" and "Delta") could both hear sounds above them on the valley wall to the east. CK and DH briefly saw what appeared to be a large heat signature through CK's rented handheld thermal imager. The two southernmost teams ("Alpha" and "Bravo") could also hear faint, ambiguous movement along the eastern valley wall.

The most significant thing that occurred happened to "Charlie" team, who were situated on a section of the trail were a small feeder stream flowed out of the eastern valley wall, forming a small bowl in the wall itself. The feeder stream was lined with heavy rhododendron growth. From this point on, that spot will be referred to as the "Approach Location" in these expedition notes, as well as the GA EXP-2 notes.

Here is the narrative of "Charlie" team member KZ regarding the team's experience:

" 'Charlie' group arrived on scene with the following members - KZ, KA, JC, BC, and GH. Radios were insufficient, and the group quickly used three radios before selecting a unit that transmitted appropriately. During much of the event, 'Charlie' group communications were lacking and unable to be understood by nearby teams."

[Editor's Note - Matt Pruitt: This particular section of the river valley proved to be very problematic with regard to radio communications.]

KZ continues: "No noise reduction was practiced by the group, however red head lights were turned off soon after arrival, approximately 2300 hours. We were clearly in a most vulnerable position, having no clear escape route other than the way we came in.

After a short while, movement was detected on the slope above our location. The group heard very subtle shuffling, moist leaf noises, and very stealthy travel interspersed with an occasional small stick snap. The noise seemed to move back and forth, up slope, down slope, behind us and even appeared to cross the trail at one point. It became apparent to the participants that noises were coming simultaneously from different locations. This led the group to believe that big guys were circling the group, evaluating, yet maintaining ample distance. Matt Pruitt registered requests for female screams from 'Charlie' group, gladly provided and most sufficiently by KA. Repeated use of the thermal imager produced no heat signatures - it was the group consensus that this tool destroyed what night vision we had, might ruin the experience and revealed our locations, so its use was limited to the end of the mission. Three wood knocks were administered by JC, the girls sang some gentle lullabies, KA sang a song parody (much laughter by group) and I let out a whistle; none of these efforts initiated any noticeable response.

Most of the participants admitted to hearing movement in the forest; I mentioned to others the oddity of distinct/complex bird songs in the night, seemingly originating from the areas that produced the subtle movements and traveling sounds. At one point I mentioned that a larger object was heard clattering down thru the trees, finally to land on the wet creek bed behind me GH noted that she had simultaneously heard the same object contacting trees above and behind her head, potentially thrown from up slope and soon coming to rest behind the group. 'Charlie' group members continued to try to observe what other members were seeing/hearing, and thus a predictable cycle of standing/sitting ensued. KA reminded us to refrain from pointing/head turning or otherwise acknowledging specific sounds with conspicuous bigfoot recognition.

After several hours of witnessing this behavior, the cold temperature began to play a detrimental role in the event. One member noticeably shivered as a result of this exposure. At 0130, I asked the group if an anticipated end was in sight and did we want to decide on a departure time. The group felt that 0215 was a good time to leave the site. The group continued to experience these local effects, and at approximately 0215, began loading up the gear to leave. Taking the first steps out were JC and BC, followed by GH, KA and lastly me. Suddenly, the group experienced a proximate explosion of large, snapping branches no more than ten feet to the right, in front of and up slope from the lead hiker. This dramatic display startled the group and BC/JC staggered backwards as the egress noises quickly ceased, moving away in the night. It was clearly a very much larger than human animal, estimated at well over 300 pounds, moving very quickly and with great agility. The group proceeded out, a bit shaken, however quickly met up with 'Delta' group up trail and passed along their findings."


When I returned to camp with my team, I was quickly filled in on the approach that "Charlie" team had experienced. A decision was made to return the following day to search for sign.

-- DAY / NIGHT THREE --

I interviewed the members of "Charlie" group to gain a better understanding of what occurred. After much discussion, it was decided that only a few people should return to the "Approach Location", while other should try to elicit responses from a different section of the river valley.

KZ and other expedition members returned to the "Approach Location" to search for sign.

More from KZ:

"Saturday 9/24/11, BFRO participant investigation of the approach area revealed 18" foot-like impressions in the forest floor, seemingly proceeding uphill and away from the trail area. Distance separating these impressions was measured at approximately 48" and assumed to be moving up the steep slope. A significant, well used game trail was discovered up slope and parallel to the main trail, potentially giving animals the vantage point with which to travel silently and observe trail users."

I explored a different section of the river valley to north with JE, JH, and JMc. The four of us found a strategically viable trail system that gave us access to the ridge above the western wall of the river valley, as well as a few smaller coves and hollows. It seemed that three (3) teams could spread out in the area and make sounds which would carry into the river valley in hopes of eliciting and documenting responses.

We met up at base camp and discussed the viability of the northern section, as well as the need to revisit the "Approach Location". We divided the expedition into two sections, "North" and "South".

The "North" teams were as follows:

"Alpha" - Matt Pruitt, GH, MW, JE, JMc
"Bravo" - DS, KZ, BI, JH, JH
"Charlie" - GS, SF, RC

The "South" team (who distributed themselves in and around the "Approach Location" members were as follows:

CK, KA, LC, MC, DH, BC, and JC.

The "North" teams coordinated sounds via radios, and after each coordinated sound, we heard (and documented) powerful responses from the river valley. The responses weren't consistent with known large mammals, but were amazingly consistent with purported sasquatch vocalizations and recordings. It was truly an incredible experience, and all of the expedition participants who heard the responses were very impressed. I am still in the process of going thru the hours of sound files to isolate and enhance all of the vocal responses that "Alpha" team's audio controller (JE) documented.

The "South" teams reported no activity.

---

I'd like to thank all of the first-time participants for being so cooperative and friendly (not to mention brave) on this expedition. It is my privilege to spend time with you in the field.

I'd also like to thank my close friends JE, JMc, and MW for helping me so much during the expedition. JE had high-quality audio recordings running every night, and took over 1000 photos during the expedition.

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge one of my favorite field partners, and one of my favorite friends Morris Collins for scouting the area, and for representing the Georgia Chapter of the BFRO on the expedition. I am truly grateful.



-- 


To discuss the 2011 Georgia Expedition (GA EXP-1), please visit this thread on the BFRO's Public Forum.

2011 Oklahoma Expedition

The 2011 Oklahoma Expedition was held in the Southeastern Part of the state in the Ouachita National Forest; an area with a rich history of sasquatch activity.

In total, there were 21 expedition participants. The participants came from OK, TX, AZ, CO, MO, and LA.

The expedition took place in a large valley containing several lakes of various sizes, and many large creeks (most of which yielded little water or were completely dry). Our base camp was located on the northern side of the valley, and was near one of the more sizable lakes. This proved to be quite a location, as the lakes provided some of the only water for local wildlife during this severe drought. During my first scouting trip with expedition participants JD and JT, we saw numerous turkey, deer, and one bobcat in the immediate vicinity of the lake.

I arrived on Wednesday, Sept 7th with LC, Gary Christensen (Texas BFRO Investigator), MG, TB, MC, CG, RD, and KB.

The first night we explored a location on the southern side of the valley where multiple witnesses had reported hearing characteristic sounds and camp stalking. This side of the valley was markedly drier than the north side. Gary Christensen and CG set up a small satellite camp in this area during daylight. Both men were equipped with thermal imagers, and were prepared to document any visitors that ventured near their camp. After dark, the remaining expedition participants and I parked our vehicles over a mile away from the satellite camp and headed to Gary Christensen and CG on foot. We spread out in small groups and made provocational sounds back and forth; coordinating via two-way radios.

Each group had an audio recorder running, but no responses were heard or documented.

Gary Christensen and CG reported no suspected visitors during the night.

--- DAY / NIGHT ONE --

On Thursday, Sept. 8th, the remaining participants began arriving one by one. I started coordinating scout teams and vehicles to drive the surrounding area east of the lake to look for strategic terrain and wildlife sign. Gary Christensen and CG coordinated scouting efforts to the west of the lake.

I scouted a particular area with LC, JT, and RD. We initially discovered a series of two large meadows which were bifurcated by what appeared to be concrete debris; perhaps the remains of a foundation. I have had success in and around meadows like these in other parts of the country, so I knew we could place a team there. Venturing further up the small dirt road, I immediately recognized several terrain features that sasquatches are drawn to and would likely frequent. There were two small spots that we could place team members: one was a small makeshift camp (nicknamed "Loop Camp") tucked in the forest just off the dirt road, and the other (and furthest in) was a small open spot with a ridge to one side and a dry creek bed to the other (nicknamed "Deep Spot"). This was to be referred to as the "East" zone.

The "West" zone consisted of two primary locations: an east-west running road to the north of the lake, and a north-south running powerline cut to the west of the lake.

After the scouting exercise, we returned to base camp for the first group meeting. After a round of introductions, I spoke to the group about why I had selected that particular valley, and what we'd be doing for the first night.

We divided the participants into two main groups: "East" and 'West".

The "East Group" had three locations to occupy. We distributed team members as follows:

"Deep Spot" - Matt Pruitt, LC, MC, BS, MS
"Loop Camp" - MG, TB, MC, RD
"Meadow" - JT, GN, VT

The "West Group" had three locations to occupy. Teams were as follows:

"Powerline" - BE, ME, Sandra MacLemore (Arizona BFRO)
'North Road" - RS, MS, KB
"Six" - JD, JD

Gary Christensen and CG stayed at base camp to survey the area with thermal imagers, relay radio transmissions, and monitor the central area for responses.

We dispersed ourselves quickly and quietly to our respective locations.

As my group arrived at our "Deep Spot" destination, I told the team to be very quiet and listen for subtle sounds. I typically begin my night operations by making very quiet sounds to see if there are any sasquatches in the immediate environment before we begin making loud sounds across the valley. I had instructed the other teams to do the same.

I selected the spot based on the immediate terrain features, and had predicted that if there were sasquatches in the valley, they might be in this spot based on two specific features (which I won't describe here).

As the five of us stood on the dirt road, I began mimicking sasquatch whistles. Within minutes, all five of us began hearing movement from the ridge behind us and the forest in front of us. The movements were methodical and deliberate. Each time, the two "somethings" would move in tandem, and then stop and wait. I'd whistle to them again, and they'd move closer in the same manner.

At one point, the individual in front of us began walking very loudly and directly toward our position. All five of us agreed that it sounded bipedal, and enormous. It was breaking a lot of limbs as it moved, and was certainly not trying to be quiet. When it would stop, I would whistle, and it would continue directly toward us. As it got within ~60 feet of us, I started to wonder if it were going to stop, or if it was going to confront us directly.

All the while, the movement of the second individual behind us continued. It wasn't nearly as loud as the movement in front of us; it was much more subtle and slow.

When the individual in front of us got within ~30 feet of us, it stopped. It is my opinion (based on our findings the following day) that where it stopped would have been the first place where it could have made visual contact with us. It also stopped responding to my whistles. I told the group that if this was indeed a sasquatch, it obviously knew that we were humans, and there was no need to be subversive with it. We had it's attention (and presumably the attention of it's cohort on the ridge), and we should try to hold it's attention. The thing wouldn't move at all when we would look in it's direction, or whistle/whoop to it. We decided to talk and laugh quietly with each other, as if we had forgotten it was there. Each time we did this, we could distinctly hear it moving and relocating.

One of the more dramatic moments of the approach occurred when a truck roared down the main two-lane road in the valley (nearly a mile as the crow flies). As the sounds of the truck echoed through the valley, the individual in front of us made several huge, heavy steps. It was obviously using the road noise to conceal it's movements. The steps were very loud, thudding steps. All five of us were very impressed by that point; whatever approached us was very large, and very heavy.

After spending several minutes trying to elicit responses to no avail, we decided to walk further up road in hopes that the stalking creatures would follow us. Just a few yards up the road, MS (the adolescent son of BS) stated that he was starting to get cold. We stopped in the road, and LC took off her pack to retrieve a thick shirt to put on MS. She stood up quickly to hand the shirt to MS, and a loud knock came from the ridge directly behind us. LC described it as sounding like "Babe Ruth hitting a home run".

At this point, all five of us were convinced that we were interacting with two sasquatches.

We continued trying to elicit more movement or responses, but didn't have any further success. We decided to slowly walk back to the meadow in hopes that the sasquatches would follow us.

The five of us were very excited, and I was hopeful that we could interact with the sasquatches in this section of the valley again.

-- DAY / NIGHT TWO --

The "Deep Spot" team members and I went back to the spot (which will be referred to as "Approach Location" from now on) to look for sign. We were able to competently ascertain the path that the approaching sasquatch took. It had apparently used the dry creek bed to approach us. There were subtle signs of movement, as well as an older tree-twist which was very interesting. My friends in the research community will tell you that I don't put much stock into "stick-structures" or "forest manipulation", but this twist was very compelling. It was not created by snow or ice load.

Gary Christensen and CG lead a group from base camp into the "East Zone" on foot following a separate dry creek bed. They located a large pond surrounded with fresh wildlife sign.

My group eventually met up with them in a small meadow just to the northwest of the "Approach Location". The meadow was adjacent to a series of horse trails which provided excellent paths for us to move along quietly at night. We had seen several intriguing spots within the zone where we could place teams.

The previous night's events, coupled with the compelling sign we found during the day suggested that we use all of the available expedition participants to conduct operations in this "East Zone".

The teams for Night Two were as follows:

"Meadow/Horse Trail" - Matt Pruitt, JT, RD, KB, ME
"Pond" - Gary Christensen, CG, GN, BE
"Female Team" - Sandra MacLemore, RS, MS, VT
"Mobile Team" - JD, JD
"Creek Crossing" - BS, MS, MG, TB, MC

The teams heard and recorded several interesting (but distant) responses. The responses were of an ambiguous nature. No participants were approached, and no definitive sounds were heard or documented.

-- DAY / NIGHT THREE --

Fearing that the first night's encounter had encouraged the resident sasquatches to move to a different section of the valley, I decided to scout to the west of our initial location for any potentially viable locations.

JT, BS, MS, MC and I found a beautiful remote lake in a different section of the valley. The lake was large and creek-fed, surrounded with smaller ponds. We saw an abundance of wildlife sign there. Moreover, there was an intersection of horse trails nearby that allowed us to access the surrounding forest.

The expedition participants focused our efforts there for the final night. Upon arriving and dispersing, we heard a few ambiguous (and suggestive) sounds. As was the case on the previous night, we weren't able to elicit any approaches or responses. Constant scanning with multiple thermal imagers showed no signs of large mammals either.

---

There were a great many lessons learned on the expedition, and I'll be adding to these notes in the future. There are several interesting sound files that participants captured, and we're all still in the process of reviewing them and preparing them for release online.

The weather was wonderful, and the location was truly gorgeous. This was the fifth BFRO expedition that I have organized, and I was very impressed by all of the first-time participants. I certainly feel like I have a new batch of friends and field partners.

I'd also like to express my tremendous gratitude to Gary Christensen and Sandra MacLemore for traveling from out of state to help during the expedition. You are both incredible researchers, and the BFRO is lucky to have you both involved.



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To discuss the 2011 Oklahoma Expedition, please visit this thread on the BFRO's Public Forum.