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DATE: August 14-15, 2001
COUNTY: Skamania County
LOCATION DETAILS: This happened at Peterson Prairie Campground, six miles West of Trout Lake, South of Mt Adams on FS 60 and 10 miles SE of Skookum Meadows.
NEAREST TOWN: Trout Lake
NEAREST ROAD: FS 60
OBSERVED: First of all, I feel the need to preface this report with some background information. I have been in the process of writing a book on Ape Cave near Mt St Helens. I contacted Jeff Lemley about getting some reports about Bigfoot stories to add to my book. I have kept in close contact with Jeff since the first contact and emailed him immediately after we got back from our trip.
I told my husband, Larry, that I wanted to go camping at Peterson Prairie for my birthday (August 15th) with my twin sister, Vicki and her husband, Jim K. I thought it would be fun to take in a cave or two, time permitting. My husband and I are avid cavers and enjoy spending free time exploring the wild caves of Southern Washington State near Mt St Helens and Mt Adams. We both felt it would be a good time to introduce my sister and her husband (and their toy red Poodle, Sparky) to the sport of wild caving.
The four of us drove our two minivans through the Dark Divide and arrived at camp late in the day on the 14th. Our favorite camp spot was still available so we proceeded to set up camp. As it turned out, my sister and her husband, took the safe way out and set up camp in their Dodge Caravan, while I pitched our miniscule backpacking tent 50 feet South of the camp in a small clearing surrounding by small pines. It was just enough room to pitch a small tent and still be able to tie off the guy ropes to keep the rainfly away from the tent.
As far as I knew, the night was uneventful until my husband spoke up the next morning. Larry told all of us that he thought he heard a Bigfoot howling (my husband is an extreme skeptic when it comes to anything related to Bigfoot). We all talked about it for a while and then decided to get ready to go caving in Cheese Cave, a local lava tube. Later in the day, we rode our bikes to some local caves and then went back to camp. Later, Larry and I left my sister and her husband at camp to rest while we set out to find Dynamite Cave. We drove around all of the dirt roads in the STR that we thought it was supposed to be located in. We parked the van at several locations. At one spot, my husband started walking down a remote trail with me following a short distance behind him. I stopped on the trail not far from the car because I heard something very large run through the bush to my right, just off the trail. My husband kept going, but I was too apprehensive to move. Whatever it was, it was huge; but it didn't sound like an elk moving through the bush. Also, I felt like something was watching me. It was quite creepy! Since Larry had moved out of sight, I felt very vunerable and literally ran up to catch up with him. I kept telling him I wanted to go back to the car; but didn't want to go by the one spot alone. He finally relented and we walking briskly to the car.
That night we all walked to the clearing due East of camp, next to the road which led to the group camp to watch the stars and anything else interesting in the clear skies. After turning in about 10PM, we slept soundly until about 3AM, when I was awakened by an incredibly loud howling, unlike anything I had ever heard in my life. Since I am an avid outdoorsperson, I have camped out and seen and heard most of the wild things that occur in the forests and mountains. This was like nothing I had ever heard before. There was absolutely no other sounds from the forest until a Barred Owl responded to the howl.
I woke Larry up to ask him about the howls. He said that it was the very same thing that he heard the night before. We both listened to it banter back and forth with the owl. After maybe 10 to 15 minutes of howling, the owl took off flying North through the trees. We could both hear his wings flapping as he was hooting. He was much closer to us than the thing which was howling; but the howling was much louder than the owl.
What happened next sent chills down my spine. I was laying on my stomach in the tent, needing very much to go outside and relieve myself; but unwilling to venture outside due to the howlings I was still listening to. Larry had fallen back asleep, so unfortunately, the thing I heard next fell on my ears alone. The best I could describe it was a howling turning into an Ape-like chattering. It sounded like someone was practicing phonics by contorting their mouth, while at the same time, reciting all the vowels. That is the best I can describe it. The sounds were incredibly loud and quite frightening sounding. I lay motionless until the sounds died down and I fell asleep.
I was awakened one more time around 6:15 to 6:30 in the morning. Light was already finding its way into camp which I could see through the mosquito netting at the head of our tent. This time I heard a pack of coyotes start up, followed again by that same howling sound. At this point, I was really getting freaked out; but was still not willing to venture out of the tent. As soon as it was light enough, I got up and ran to my sister's van. I rapped on their window and asked if they heard the howls. Of course, they hadn't heard anything; but were quite interested in what Larry and I had heard that night.
When I got home, I emailed Jeff Lemley to see if he had any wave files to listen to that might sound like what we heard. I listened to every owl sound on the web and nothing sounded like what we heard. A few days later, I got an email from Jeff about the other report four days before ours, only 6 miles North of us. As I told Jeff, both my husband and I would like to think that the sounds we heard were in fact, Barred Owls. Anyone sleeping in a flimsy nylon tent would probably convince themselves of the same. But then again...
ALSO NOTICED: There was absolutely no sound anywhere in the forest when the sounds started up, which seemed odd since there was so much noise at all other times, day or night.
OTHER WITNESSES: My husband, Larry B. and myself.
OTHER STORIES: I was emailed last year by Jeff Lemley when the Skookum Meadows incident occurred.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: The sounds occurred between 3-6AM both nights. There were stars out, no moon and the wind was still.
ENVIRONMENT: This took place at the East end of the Peterson Prairie Campground in thick pine and fir forest. Our camp spot was at the very end of the campground, next to the gravel road which led to a large group camp about 100 feet South of us.
Follow-up investigation report:
I spoke with the primary witness, Debbi L., extensively on the phone over the course of 2 consecutive evenings. Witnesses are familiar with the various sounds that are common in this area, including the calls of barred owls. Debbi described the garbled sounds she heard as being very similiar to those recorded by Al Berry in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California in 1972.