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COUNTY: Hinsdale County
LOCATION DETAILS: Near Jarosa Mesa down toward Rambouillet Park.
NEAREST TOWN: Lake City
NEAREST ROAD: CO 149
OBSERVED: I had gone backpacking/training trip with four pack animals in preparation for an extended backpacking trip into the Wemineuch Wilderness. Two of my goats are experienced packers and two were new. After several shorter treks I had gone to Spring Creek Pass where I planned to walk part of the Colorado Trail -- possibly down to Durango -- then resupply and go back to the Wemineuch. After reaching one of the local creeks one of my goats started getting sick so I decided to head back toward the truck and bide my time while I assessed his situation. There were tons of people on the trail last summmer and I wanted to be alone so I went off near Jarosa Mesa and found a meadow surrounded by thick forest where I didn't feel I'd encounter anyone. We stayed two days.
During that time the dogs and particularly the goats were periodically nervous, then they would calm. Goats point to what they see or hear but whenever I would look I would not see anything. I checked the area thinking there might be bear or mountain lion nearby but didn't find signs that would indicate a den and although there was bear scat in the area it was not fresh. Still, this was a time of drought that had the bears hungry all over the state and they were having bear problems down in Lake City right then so, especially with a sick goat, I stayed alert to the possibility. Especially since I was also near one of the only water sources.
In the meantime I was doctoring my goat and working with the others. At one point when I was playing tug-of-war and growling with my dogs (an older border collie and a border collie pup) the goats alarmed and bunched around us pointing at the woods but when I checked I couldn't see anything and the dogs didn't react. I periodically got the feeling we were being watched, then it would pass. The puppy occasionally got interested in something in the woods but would come back. When I work with the goats, I sing a lot. They have also developed a fondness for the pennywhistle so I had spent a lot of time in the afternoon just playing music with all of us sprawled around the meadow together.
The meadow was rich in smells but aside from the plant smells from walking around there was more a musky elk smell than anything. Lots of signs of deer and elk in the area.
At dusk the animals got extremely nervous. I had just gone inside my tent to get something, both dogs were inside with me and the goats just outside. I suddenly heard this alarm vocalization unlike anything I've ever heard from my animals, but easily could have been. Under the circumstances I could easily have made vocalizations I had never made before. The goats were beside the tent and whatever it was was right behind the tent. I knew it was something big because my dog will tear after a lesser beast barking but the only times I've encountered a bear or a mountain lion with him he stays right with me and gives a quiet growl that says, "This is serious." I grabbed my pepper spray fearing it was a bear and started out of the tent, turning as I crouched out the door and yelling (don't ask me why) at the dogs to stay inside.
The goats were beside the tent pointed at the back. There it was. A bigfoot. I couldn't see its whole body because it was blocked by the tent but if it was a female the breasts weren't prominent. It had medium chestnut fur, was standing erect on two legs, probably 8 feet tall (I have a brother who is 6'7" and a nephew who is 6'10" and growing so I have some perspective), and probably only 12 feet away staring straight at me. The face had fur -- less around the eyes but not as bare as your sketch -- and the eyes were all brown -- no whites. Like a deer's eyes. Its arms were hanging at its sides. Everything was totally silent.
My dogs were beside me but we were all frozen in place. I know that if anything threatened me one of my dogs would die defending me. On an instinctive level I was as terrified as I've ever been but even at the time I knew I didn't feel threatened. I wouldn't have dreamed of using the pepper unless it had attacked. In retrospect I thought it was interesting that I didn't have (at least under those circumstances) fight/flight instincts. I simply froze in place. Perhaps if it had done anything menacing I would have reacted differently. But I felt simultaneously terrified (instinctively) and amazed. Before that moment I had never even known if I believed in bigfoot or not. Had I thought about it I would have assumed it would be something to ponder in the Pacific Northwest, but certainly not in Colorado. Had never once, for all the thought I've put into "what would happen if I encountered..." thought of the possibility of encountering one and was totally unprepared for and in awe of it.
It seemed unhurried. We stared at each other for what felt like a long time, then it made a low rumbling sound and turned its head and I caught just a glimpse of another back behind it. It looked back at me, then they turned and loped off out of sight. I could feel the vibrations in the ground.
I got the feeling that nothing in the encounter was threatening to me or the goats. That they were curious.
There was a slight breeze and I was upwind (somehow I doubt that was accidental) so I didn't notice a particularly strong smell. I think I had felt the vibration as it/they approached but thought it was the goats. During the entire encounter from the vocalization on, except for the breeze, it was totally silent and the sound (birds etc) resumed a few minutes later.
We all slept very peacefully that night.
I found no tracks but the ground was so dry and hard I couldn't make a very good track when I tried.
The next morning I packed up and left more because I felt like I was intruding in someone else's space than feeling danger. I felt like I was being watched and gauged from the animals that they did too.
My older dog stayed right beside me, alert and ready to act. The puppy seemed unphased by it all. The puppy had come back at one point earlier in the day having rolled in what I thought was human manure...now I'm not so sure.
OTHER STORIES: I know of no other stories in that area except that on your map there is a red dot in the same area that is not accounted for in the posted narratives.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Dusk, but still in good light. Overcast from a passing thunderstorm.
ENVIRONMENT: Meadow surrounded by VERY dense pine and spruce old growth forest almost impassible because of all the blowdown. Area is along a ridge top with numerous springs. (Water was scarce at that time, many usual springs in the area dry). I went there specifically because it seemed like a place where people didn't go.
Follow-up investigation report:
Excerpts from interview with witness, who is familiar with both black and grizzly bears, having once worked with the Great Bear Foundation.
"It was kind of weird. I was coming out of my tent, and had to turn in a half-crouched position to see it. When I did, I froze. (What did you see?) It was just this giant furred animal that was not a bear. I live in bear country and this was not any animal I have ever seen."
"This face that was staring at me was very humanoid, fur covered, much more humanoid kind of face, and it was so big. I'm used to big. My brother is 6''7" and my nephew 6'10" and growing. I had a great uncle called Shorty because he was only 6-2, so I'm used to big."
"My guess is this animal was 7.5 to 8 feet tall. After I got back out of the mountains, I looked at an 8 foot ceiling and thought, yeah, that would have filled the space."
"It was very close, so close its legs were hidden by the end of the tent. What I saw was roughly from the waist up.
As soon as I turned and froze in place it did too. It's hard to know how long we actually looked at each other without moving. It may have been a minute, just staring at each other. It was looking directly at me..."
(On the creature's unusual vocalization.)
"It made this glance at the goats and looked back at me. Then it made this low rumbling sound. I'm a musician. This sound was so much on the low range, I got the feeling that there were frequencies I couldn't hear. Then it moved, and I got a glimpse of another one behind it. I only had a glimpse of it but when it made the low rumbly sound, the other one kind of looked in at me."
(Witness describes its gait.)
"It loped off, gracefully. It had a lilting walk. It left fast. By time I got around the tent to look where it was, it had totally disappeared."
(I asked about the light at the time.)
"It was dusk. It was getting dark, but it was still adequately light to see well. Earlier in the day, it had been overcast and there had been a lot of electrical storm activity, no rain, just lightning."
(On witness's reaction to the encounter.)
"I didn' feel threatened at all. My instincts were to just freeze. I felt completely terrified and completely in awe --amazed -- simultaneously, but I felt so unthreatened, I stayed for the night."
(On the pepper spray the witness carries.)
"I don't think pepper spray would daunt what I saw. It might have been a very minor annoyance, at best. Nothing in its behavior made me want to use it.
My younger dog kept sprinting off into the woods, like she would get real interested in something. I think she perceived whatever was there was kind of a human-type creature.''
The witness originally asked that we not publish her report out of concern that she would be easily identified as the one who made it. Because the report was so singular and compelling, we tried to address her concerns while maintaining the essential details. One change was that we agreed to change pack-goats to llamas, because the goat-packing community is so small.
After she agreed to be interviewed for a story in The Denver Post in Nov. 2002, She asked that her BFRO report be corrected to reflect that the use of goats and not llamas.
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