Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Solo Day Trip

On Sunday I went on a solo scouting trip south of Portland, OR. I was looking for locations to camp at next weekend. I will be hosting a small expedition for one night with about a half dozen bigfooting friends, some of which have never done any field work.

I left late, shortly after noon. I live only an hour or two from the spot, so getting an early start wasn't necessary. I wanted to spend several hours in the woods, yet time my drive out for dusk to maximize my chances of seeing wildlife near the road. (Besides, I was in "lazy weekend" mode. I deserved the slack. I slept in.)

The weather forecast said something ridiculous, like 90% chance of rain. I may not be a native Oregonian, but I've lived here long enough to know that meteorologists are often terribly wrong when predicting Oregon weather. I ignored their prediction and went anyways.

Within reason, try not to let the weather deter you from a bigfoot trip. You might never leave your home.

A view overlooking the river valley from the road.

Driving less than 90 minutes put me squarely in the woods with nothing but BLM land on all sides. National forests, and even several designated wilderness areas were nearby. My destination was an area with several ponds located within a few short miles of each other. I wanted to search the muddy areas near the ponds for impressions. Not just sasquatch footprints, but traces of all animals. I sought to know what, if anything, was moving through the area. My plan was to drive to the furthest pond, and then stop to inspect the others as I drove out.

I eventually approached the snowline which was just under 4000 feet. I hesitantly drove onto the snow-covered road which was perhaps a foot or so deep. I'm not really enthusiastic about driving in snow, especially when I'm in remote locations. Safety has to remain of the utmost importance when bigfooting, especially when alone. So when I found the snow getting increasingly deeper, I decided to back out and turn around.

As I was making a 7-point turn on the narrow logging road after backing out, two men walked down the snowy road towards my truck from where I had just driven out of. It's good etiquette to speak to folks walking around in remote locations, so I rolled down the passenger-side window to say hello.

They explained that their 2-wheel drive truck was stuck in the snow just a little ways up the road. "Boy, this is your lucky day!" I exclaimed. "Nobody else but me is probably coming up this road today." They agreed.

They were luckier than they could have hoped. My truck is jam packed with all sorts of useful items ranging from spray paint to a wrist rocket. When in the woods alone for a week or two at a time, it is best to be prepared for almost anything.

While I didn't seem to need my wrist rocket for anything, I did get to use my extra towing hitch pin as well as my towing strap. It's a rare treat to use any of the extra gear I drag around with me. So much of the time it is just extra weight, but every once in a while I get to use something for the greater good.

When I was kneeling in the snow attaching the tow strap to the underside of my truck, one of the men asked me if I was scouting for bear hunting season. "No, I'm a bigfoot researcher," I replied.


"Yeah, really." I knew they wouldn't make fun of me. I was dragging their butts out of a snow drift and they couldn't afford to tick me off. "Here, take some business cards and hand them out to your hunting buddies. Have you ever seen a bigfoot?"

They hadn't, though one of the men told me about his cousin who found very large bipedal prints in the snow a few years back. He described them as huge (maybe 16 or 17 inches), human shaped, and rectangular. So many people have bigfoot stories if you just ask them!

After talking with the men for a short while about bigfoots being real animals, I reminded them how lucky they were that anybody was out on this road. I told them they had bigfoot to thank for that, to which they agreed. With a casual, "Respect the 'squatch," I drove off.

Having my plans slightly thwarted by snow, I drove back down the road to inspect the several ponds I had driven by. Two were right next the the road, while two others took some hiking to get to. One took so much walking that I didn't try to get there at all. It was too close to dusk and the climb out would have been treacherous at night.

Remember, when one is alone in the woods it is better not to take unnecessary chances. I have learned this the hard way over many years by putting myself in some potentially dangerous situations, some of which would make excellent blog entries...

The pond I didn't go to.

The ponds were muddy, but covered with a decomposing layer of alder leaves and grass. There was sign of deer and elk, but almost none of it was fresh. I saw no sign of raccoons or coyotes. Seeps fed the ponds, and small streams trickled out of them. Tracks would have been easy to find except for the rotting layer of forest debris.

I was hoping for more abundant animal sign. I eventually determined that this area was probably not a winter spot.

What I did find encouraging were the willow buds that are only just now emerging on their branches, as well as the skunk cabbage shoots that were barely above water level. Spring is just around the corner, and this location will be thick with food in just a few months.

A small, no-name pond visited on Sunday.

On the backside of one of the small ponds, I found a fairly wide animal trail that paralleled the base of the hillside. I followed it for several hundred yards. In many spots small branches were broken from the passing of larger animals moving along the trail. These branches were broken from about four feet off the ground up to about eight feet. The highest breaks indicated to me that these were likely the signs of passing elk, though it wouldn't surprise me if sasquatches might be responsible for some breakage as well.

One of perhaps two dozen broken branches along a well-worn
animal trail. This break was close to eight feet off the ground.

The drive out was uneventful. I took a few opportunities to walk the river paralleling the road in the valley below looking for footprints along the banks, but found nothing but older deer sign. No animals were seen along the road in the dimming light as I drove back to town.

I do not think I'll be taking the expedition to this location next weekend. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of animal life in the area. I saw almost no fresh deer sign, no coyotes responded to my numerous vocalizations, and there seems to be little in the way of readily available food. This spot will be looked at much more closely in the spring.

I have heard rumors of numerous deer not far from Estacada along the Clackamas River. I think I'll give that area a shot next weekend. I'll keep you posted.

Another small pond visited on Sunday. This one was a
deep green color and quite beautiful.


  1. Fantastic scouting--even though you didn't find a location, you did help some people, so it was a productive day. I know what you mean about hunting BF. I am a ghost hunter and get the same reaction. I'd hunt BF in a second if I didn't live in the middle of the desert. You are so lucky to live in the most beautiful country in the US. Good luck on your expedition.

  2. I like this article and your blog in general, good job with it. These are some great pictures, awesome country out there. Lucky for the guys in the truck.