Bigfoot, Portals, and Aliens (or Demons)
Thursday, June 12, 2014
I managed to get an hour or two of sleep after our exhausting night of fending off those strange beings. I am not sure if Adam slept at all. Sometime in the early hours of the morning, as I hunkered in my sleeping bag at the edge of sleep and wakefulness, I overheard Adam and Dr. Johnson discussing the previous night’s events.
“I came here to find evidence of Bigfoot. I didn’t sign up to fight off aliens or whatever those things were!” I heard him say to Matt Johnson. Adam had said almost that same thing to me the night before after the creatures charged at us. The two men continued to talk, speculating on what these things were and where from where they came. Thoroughly exhausted, I drifted back to sleep.
Not long afterward, I awoke and slowly extracted myself from my bag. The gray light of early morning had given way to clear blue skies and golden sunlight. It would be another day of perfect weather in this beautiful part of the country. The night before felt unreal, like a vaguely-remembered nightmare. I wanted to ask Adam, “Did that really happen?” But I knew that it did happen. Even in the light of day on this beautiful morning, I still felt an oppressive sense of foreboding. Perhaps it was just the lingering effects of the night before, I thought.
As Dr. Johnson talked about the events of the night before, I gathered that, while he was puzzled by the appearance of the mist and red-orange portal-area and the emergence of those two entities, he was not overly concerned by them. As we talked further, Dr. J told us that he had other strange experiences while at SOHA, so while this was weirder than most, he was used to unexplained phenomena presenting themselves there. After hundreds of visits to the place, no harm had befallen him, so he reasoned that these beings would not bother us. Adam and I were far less confident of this.
An unusual Bigfoot track
In keeping with protocol, we left the camp circle to inspect the gifting bowls. As we walked up the footpath that lay at the twelve o’clock position of the circle, I noticed the impression of a huge, bare footprint in the path.
It was only a singular print, but highly unusual – to me, at least. It was very long and wide. There were no visible claw marks, as you would find in a bear’s paw print. And although somewhat difficult to ascertain, it looked as if it had only three large toes splayed out from each other.
I have read of three-toed Bigfoot prints being found at times. A well-known case in Bigfootdom is the Fouke Monster, a Sasquatch-like creature that was seen repeatedly in and around the swampland of Fouke, Arkansas. The tracks of this creature were generally reported as having three toes. Whether the footprint that I found was three-toed is not absolute, as the print’s depth is shallow. However, I do think that it looks as if it might be three-toed.
When I pointed out the print to Dr. Johnson, he was unimpressed, telling me that he has many plaster casts of Bigfoot prints. Already convinced of the Forest People’s presence, collecting such evidence did not significantly interest him at this stage of his research.
My impression was that for Dr. Johnson, the purpose of leaving the gifting bowls had little to do with the collection of physical evidence and “proof” of the existence of these beings. I believe it was a genuine offer on the part of Dr. J to his Forest People and a means to further build on his relationship with them. The collecting of evidence was more for his guests’ benefit, in this case, the well-known cryptid researcher Adam Davies. For Dr. J, no further evidence of their existence was necessary, and in this context, his nonchalant reaction to the footprint I discovered made perfect sense. I could be wrong about this, but that was my interpretation.
The gifting bowls
When we reached the gifting bowls, we once again found that more items were missing from the bowl with the junk food than those containing fruits and vegetables. Wearing rubber gloves, we gingerly lifted each of the bowls, careful to hold them by the edges, and carried them back through the trail and to the camp. We placed them on one of the two long folding tables that Dr. J had brought with us and set up near the twelve o’clock position, just before the trailhead.
Upon inspection, Adam discovered some animal hairs inside of the bowl. They were dark in color and fairly large in circumference. It was not immediately obvious from what sort of animal they came, so Adam set about analyzing them. Removing the hairs from the bowl with tweezers, he meticulously inspected each follicle before placing them in plastic, zip-lock bags, which he then carefully labeled. They would later be sent to a laboratory for DNA analysis.
Adam and I take a hike
After our morning duties were complete, Adam suggested that he and I go for a hike. We had some time before we had to leave the camp to embark on our afternoon activities, so this was perfect timing for us to get away from the SOHA campsite for a bit to regroup, just the two of us. Dr. Johnson had no qualms with this. He stayed behind with his son and busied himself about the camp.
We took the footpath through the forest that lay at the twelve o’clock position. The path wound forward at a slight incline, away from the camp. As we walked into the woods deeply enough to be out of earshot, Adam told me in a low voice that he wanted to talk about the night before, which I had assumed. He wanted to talk things over and decide on how we should handle those creatures if they returned.
I began to respond, but he quieted me, saying that he did not want to speak while in these creepy woods and that he felt as we were being watched and overheard. I agreed and kept silent as we continued forward up the path and away from this watchful place.
After a little way, the path climbed more steeply, and we clambered up some rocks, leaving the cover of the forest canopy. We suddenly found ourselves in warm sunlight beneath clear skies. The area was still desolate, and dense brush lay to either side of the path. We were relieved to be out that gloomy wood.
The path continued its ascent up the spine of the ridge, and Adam and I walked in silence for a little way. On our right, the rise descended steeply, exposing a lovely view of the landscape below. Houses dotted the hillsides here and there, and the town of Grants Pass lay in the distance. The intense feeling of being watched had largely subsided, and we began to talk.
At first, we only wanted to go over the events of the night before, if nothing more than to reassure ourselves that it had all actually happened. Understanding that people can interpret things very differently, particularly when under stress, I wanted to know whether or not Adam had seen and experienced everything as I had. We were not at liberty to discuss the portal and creatures at the camp because of concern for Matt’s son, who had been quite frightened by them.
“How did the creatures appear to you? I mean, how would you describe them physically?” I asked Adam. “Robust” was his first word. “They appeared physically powerful.” He elaborated further, echoing exactly my impression of their appearance: about one meter tall, black-skinned (or furred – although Adam felt that they did not have fur), small, glowing red eyes, short, thick neck, flat-ish face, wide mouth. Adam’s description of the mist and glowing red “portal” precisely matched what I saw as well. We agreed that the idea of this hours-long experience being some shared hallucination was impossible, or at least improbable.
So, what should be our next move? Neither of us gave any thought to asking Dr. J to leave a day early to drive us back to our rental car, which was parked in his driveway in Puyallup, WA. We were scheduled to stay with him at the Southern Oregon Habituation Area from Monday, June 9th, until Friday, June 13th. Today was Thursday the twelfth, and Adam and I had every intention of staying for our final night and leaving on Friday, as scheduled.
As surreal and disturbing as the events of the night before had been, they were also incredibly intriguing. For reasons we could not honestly explain, Adam and I felt strongly that the glowing mist, portal, and strange beings would return, and we did not want to miss the opportunity to witness these extraordinarily bizarre phenomena once again.
There was also a shared feeling of wanting to finish what was started. To leave now would seem as if we were running away. It would have felt like those creatures had beaten us, which did not sit well with either Adam or me. We resolved to stay up all night again, and if those creatures reappeared, we would do our best to fend them off and prevent them from entering our camp, just as we did on the first night.
Another lovely day in southern Oregon
We continued to hike up the ridge, although not all the way to its peak, eventually turning around and making our way back to camp. Shortly afterward, we left SOHA, making the long, slow drive down the old logging road to the mountain’s base.
The oppressive sense of isolation that I felt quickly faded once we were off the mountain and onto the open roads. It was again a gorgeous day of perfect weather. The skies were blue and cloudless, and the humidity all but nonexistent, making the high temperature very tolerable—more than ever, our experiences of the night before felt distant and unreal.
For our final full day in southern Oregon, Dr. Johnson had planned for us to go on a jetboat ride on the Rogue River. We stopped to gas up the Suburban, and after filling the tank, we were off for a short ride to Hellgate Jetboat Excursions, which was located there in Grants Pass.
Having never before been on a jet boat ride, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Given the opportunity, I would do it again without hesitation. The river and surrounding landscape were breathtaking, and we saw numerous ospreys and eagles circling above us as we toured the river.
The jet boat captain treated us to a few stomach-churning thrills as well, accelerating and cutting hard to one side and then to the other. Many of the passengers were soaked at the end of our ride. After about an hour, the excursion broke for a very nice outdoor dinner at the Hellgate Lodge, followed by the second half of the boat tour.
It was an exciting and enjoyable day, and both Adam and I were sorry to see it end. We left the riverside and made our way to the outskirts of town and onto the side streets that led to the abandoned logging road.
As we made that slow, torturous ride up the spine of the ridge, my mind dwelled on what might be awaiting us after nightfall on that lonely mountainside. Adam was now uncharacteristically quiet and pensive, and I felt sure that he and I were sharing the same thoughts.
An oppressive atmosphere
It was dusk when we arrived at our camp at the very end of that long-abandoned timber trail. As we exited Matt Johnson’s old Ford Suburban, the atmosphere felt unmistakably heavy. Oppressive. I have no idea if Dr. J felt this at all, but to Adam and me, the feeling was palpable, and we spoke of it many times afterward. Given what had happened the night before, it might have only been a case of nervous anticipation that caused us to feel as we did, but whatever the reason, we had little doubt that we were in for another night of dueling with those horrid creatures.
Dr. J announced that he again had no intention of staying up all night, staring at those weird little beings, but said that we were free to do so if we wished. He then took the opportunity to give us a demonstration of the use of his pistol. “If the bear shows up, shoot it,” he said. I would sooner have used the gun on the portal-creatures, I thought to myself. Yet, no sooner did that idea enter my mind, an overwhelming feeling of certainty struck me that shooting these entities would not affect them.
This sudden, insistent thought/feeling felt very similar to what Adam and I had experienced the night before when those strange beings appeared: that we should go to our cots and sleep – now. It was also much like my experience as I walked alone on the Olympic Discovery Trail (see Part One). Could these beings manipulate our thoughts or project ideas into our minds? It is something that I’ve pondered many times since that night.
Floating objects are a bit much for me
The three of us huddled in the center of the camp as Dr. J gave us a quick demo on how to use his gun. My back was to the folding tables set up near the twelve o’clock position, about 20 feet behind me and near the entrance to the footpath in the woods. Dr. J’s son sat in a comically oversized camping chair that his father had brought with him to my left. The chair was too big even for Dr. Johnson, and I wondered if he had bought it for the Forest People – perhaps if one might finally decide to enter the camp, sit down and have a friendly chat. I chuckled to myself at this thought. I was overtired and getting silly.
As we watched Dr. J’s demonstration and listened intently to his instructions, I heard a familiar sound behind me. It was a crunch of plastic and the muffled sloshing noise of water. I turned around to see an unopened plastic container of bottled water lying on the ground at my heels.
On one of the folding tables behind us, we had a case of bottled water. We had torn open the plastic wrapping and drunk a few of the twenty-four bottles. Most of the bottles remained. These were normal, 12-ounce disposable plastic water bottles, the kind with the corrugated sides. Young Grady looked up with me, his face pale and eyes wide, saying, “That water bottle just flew off of that table all by itself! I saw it!”
Dr. Johnson briefly looked up and said casually, “Oh yeah. Sometimes the Forest People enter the camp while cloaked and do stuff like that. They were probably pranking you.” Dr. Johnson returned to showing Adam how to use his gun. “Sure,” I said.
This place was getting weirder by the hour. I was going on about ninety minutes of sleep after a surreal, harrowing night, and now objects were floating in the air of their own accord? Or being thrown at me by invisible Sasquatches? This was all getting to be a bit much for me, I thought – and the night was still young.
The fourth and final night
The last light of day was rapidly fading as dusk gave way to nightfall. It was a bit too early to begin our nightly Bigfoot/Forest-People patrol of the camp’s perimeter, so the four of us pulled our camping chairs into a rough circle just in front of where we had our cots set up, behind the SUV. We sat, talking quietly and waiting.
Seven-year-old Grady had dragged the oversized camping chair next to me on my right. Obviously, the boy was worried about the possibility of seeing those small, black, red-eyed beings again. From his perch on the big chair, he reached down and grabbed my hand, and held it tightly for quite a while. I was touched, and I felt sorry for the boy. I truly hoped that he would not see those creatures again tonight.
Atlas, the Toy Fox Terrier, was on Adam’s lap, as he often was. Looking straight ahead toward the woods at the twelve o’clock position, his little body stiffened, and he gave a long, low growl as he stared intently into the dark. The cheerful little dog did this from time to time each day that we were at SOHA, and it was always a little bit disconcerting. It was as if he was looking at something that we could not see.
We sat until the darkness deepened and the moon began to rise full and bright over the lonely ridge. The nightly activity of “The Forest People,” or whatever it was out there, began on schedule, just as it did on the previous two nights. We heard the sound of heavy, bipedal footsteps in the surrounding forest, odd hoots and calls echoing on all sides, branches cracking, and the brush rustling. Yet, despite the continuous commotion, we saw nothing.
Once again, Dr. Johnson, Adam, and I circled the perimeter of the camp as we endeavored to communicate with whatever it was that was surrounding us. Grady joined as well, sticking close by his father’s side until it was his bedtime. Nonetheless, the Forest People failed to respond. Dr. Johnson was undeterred, and, despite our lack of sleep, Adam and I gave it our best efforts, only occasionally taking a smoke break near the camp entrance.
Friday the 13th, full moon
Midnight came and passed, and the night went on much the same as it had for the previous several hours. It was now the morning of Friday, June 13th and the full moon was high above us in a cloudless blue-black sky. As on the previous two nights, Dr. Johnson would periodically call us over to him and tell us there was one of the Forest People “behind that tree” or “in those bushes.” Unfortunately, Adam and I were never able to discern what he was seeing and/or hearing.
In our later discussions, Adam and I agreed that we felt that Dr. J was truthful and not simply trying to convince us of something that he knew was not actually there. After so much time at this place, was he more “in tune” with these beings? Personally, I believe that is a very plausible explanation.
Whatever the reason, we were convinced that Dr. Johnson believed in what it was he was experiencing. Interestingly, I was contacted by someone who had also accompanied Dr. J at SOHA. He mentioned the same thing regarding Dr. Johnson periodically seeing or hearing Forest People whose presence he himself could not ascertain.
We continued to hear sounds and sense the presence of some beings around our camp, but for Adam and me, a definitive sighting or encounter eluded us. However, we felt confident that these sounds and footsteps were not simply the mundane, scurrying noises of wildlife and forest critters. Whatever it was that moved about in the dark woods around us was bipedal, moved with purpose, and gave us a strong impression that they were sentient beings.
2:30 AM – our witching hour
Dr. Johnson called it a night at around 2 AM and climbed into his oversized, 7-foot cot, and was soon asleep beside his son. Adam and I had agreed earlier to stay awake a second consecutive night, unwilling to risk being asleep if those strange creatures reappeared. Turning our attention away from the Forest People (or whatever they were), Adam and I took our positions at the entrance. Our backs to the camp, we stared down the road and puffed thoughtfully on our cigars and spoke in low voices.
It was 2:30 AM – the same time as the previous night – that we noticed a very faintly glowing mist had gathered about 80 to 100 feet (25-30 meters) up the road, in the very same spot that it had appeared on the previous night. The mist gradually grew brighter, and then a fiery red-orange light formed at its center. The red area became translucent, and we saw the same barren, rock-strewn landscape and gnarled tree within it.
Two stocky, black creatures with glowing red eyes emerged from inside the strange red portal-area. They walked forward a few paces before stopping and staring intently at us — the monsters from my childhood nightmares, revisiting me some forty years later. The same ragged red glow surrounded the beings. All of this was an exact replay of the events of the night before.
The black entities continued to watch us, shifting from side to side in the road while slowly moving forward, closer to where we stood at the camp’s entrance. When we decided that they had gotten close enough to us, Adam and I would train our flashlight beams on them while simultaneously rebuking them in the name of God. At this, they would wink out our sight or out of the visual wavelength that we can perceive.
The glowing mist and red portal would also disappear from view but, like clockwork, would return within a few minutes. The luminescence of the mist would steadily grow, and when it reached its apogee, the red-orange glow would form at the center. The fiery area at the center would soon give way to the portal or dimensional gateway into the barren land where the black-skinned, red-eyed humanoids appeared to dwell.
The entities would again emerge from their ghastly red world and begin moving slowly and inexorably forward, ever closer to where Adam and I stood guard at the entrance of the camp. When they were within a few tens of meters from where we stood, we would again rebuke them in the name of the Lord and hit them with the beams of our flashlights, temporarily turning them away.
This exhausting cycle repeated itself again and again. Finally, as daybreak approached, the creatures returned to the glowing mist and through the red portal. As the first light of dawn spread, the luminous mist, along with the beings within, faded and disappeared.
All-in-all, it was a repeat of the previous night, with the only difference being that I did not foolishly antagonize the awful little monsters, and so they did not rush at us. That was clearly a terrifying point of our experiences with those things, and neither Adam nor I wanted it repeated.
Our second consecutive night of fighting off these aliens, or demons, or whatever, was now over. Adam and I were left exhausted but grateful to have made it through the experience unscathed — physically, at least. Psychologically and emotionally… well, that is another story.