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DATE: 1 or 2
COUNTY: Wallowa County
LOCATION DETAILS: I was lost somewhere in the mountains and do not know the location. See report.
NEAREST TOWN: Joseph
NEAREST ROAD: State Highway 82
OBSERVED: BIGFOOT SIGHTING
By: Jim Kiser
Sighting date: Early July, 1972
Sighting location: Wallowa Mountains, Eastern Oregon
Report prepared: June, 2012 to June, 2013
Report printed: June 14, 2013
On a family vacation in the remote mountains of eastern Oregon, I witnessed in broad daylight, what I believe was a family of sasquatches. I have recorded everything I can recall about that incident, hoping that others can extract important behavioral or other data from this report. I apologize for the abundant personal information – worry about the car, etc – but this information will help the reader understand why I can recall this incident so clearly.
The sighting occurred in early July 1972 when my wife, 2 year-old daughter, 9 month-old son and I were on a vacation in Eastern Oregon, traveling in our Volkswagen Squareback. This was our first and only vacation to these regions. On the vacation, we visited the John Day River Valley, Strawberry Mountain, the Snake River Valley and other sparsely populated, remote mountainous areas.
On the day of the sighting, I had decided to take a short-cut across the mountains expecting a scenic, but shorter route to Wallowa Lake, a resort area where we planned to camp. The region is thinly populated and the mountains are on Federal Lands but are essentially uninhabited. At the last gas station and general store before entering the mountains, I inquired if we could cross the mountains and was told the road was passable but primitive. This store may have been in the town of Cove or it may have been another town.
We set off on our journey with a state roadmap and my sense of direction to guide us. After three or four hours of travel, several turns at unlabeled forks in the road and using the sun to navigate we found ourselves on a primitive dirt trail. We had not seen a house, vehicle or other sign of humanity for many miles. I became increasingly concerned realizing that if we broke down that I would have to walk possibly 20 miles or more to get help. In hindsight, I believe I may have wandered by accident into an area now designated as a Wilderness area where mechanized traffic is prohibited. Fortunately the day was clear and warm, and we were well below the level of any snow. We had food and water adequate for several hours, so we were in no immediate danger. I was driving and everyone else had dozed off.
At about 2 PM we were driving generally north, quietly idling along at about 5-10 miles per hour, following a faint vehicular road. I call it a road for convenience, but it was not a road – it was a barely visible, badly rutted, dirt track without gravel, culverts or other improvements. It was basically a couple of ruts in the soil and looked as if it had not been maintained in decades, if ever. The soil was damp, but not wet so I had no concerns for traction. There were small bushes growing in the road. I recall realizing the traffic was only a few vehicle per year. The road was suitable for a heavy duty, 4-wheel-drive vehicle not a Volkswagen on a family outing. I became concerned that the road might dead-end or become impassable, and we would be forced to backtrack and I wasn’t sure I could find my way back. I had to keep a very close watch on the road to make sure I wouldn’t run over something that would damage our car and strand us in the middle of nowhere.
At the sighting location the road was atop a wide, flat ridgeline covered with a few trees, bushes (possibly sagebrush) about 2 to 4 feet high and scattered clumps of bunch grass. The soil atop the ridgeline was thin and rocky. The damp soil suggested a possible rainfall a few days earlier. Based on the vegetation and lack of snow, I later estimated the elevation was between 4,000 and 6,000 feet. The ridgeline sloped gently to the left (west) and then dropped off sharply into a forested canyon, at a distance of approximately 125 yards from the road. To the right the ground gently sloped upward with a few scattered trees, and at a distance of perhaps 200 yards dropped off to the forested lower elevations. To the front, the road dipped down and then back up to the treeline about three quarters of mile ahead.
Suddenly near the head of a small ravine which cut easterly from the canyon toward to the road, a human-like figure appeared about 200-300 yards ahead and a little to the left of the road we were traveling along (See Sketch 1). The figure hadn’t been there my last glance a few seconds earlier, so the figure must have been sitting or lying in the low bushes and then stood up. At first, I took the figure to be a hunter. In the context, a “hunter” is the most logical category for the figure. No other category – hiker, biker, nature lover, surveyor, rancher, fern gatherer, fur trapper, etc, etc – even remotely applied. My second thought was surprise because I couldn’t see a tent, pickup, camper or any other normal paraphernalia of a hunter’s camp. I wondered if the hunter had been hiking and had stopped to rest – that the hunter had a camp nearby and this was simply a place to take a mid-day break. I also wondered if hunting season was open this early in the year. Either way I didn’t care and gave a sigh of relief because I could talk to the hunter and ask if the road we were on would take us out of the mountains and back to the paved road.
When I first saw the hunter, it was to the left of the road we were on (See Sketch 2). The hunter initially walked toward the road making me think the hunter was coming to the road to talk to me. However the next time I looked, there were 3 figures close together. They were not all the same height, which I interpreted as the shortest one being a child. They milled around and then all three began walking away from the road and toward the ravine. Still thinking they were hunters, I waved my arm out the window to indicate that I wanted to talk, but the figures continued walking toward the tree line and ravine to our left. I then saw a fourth human-like who was walking diagonally toward the ravine.
While the hunters weren’t running, they were moving fast enough it was clear they would disappear to the trees before our car would get close enough that I could ask them a question. I wanted to speed up to catch them, but couldn’t because I had to keep checking the road to avoid hitting anything that might damage the car. The hunters continued to move away from the road instead of toward the road to talk. In frustration, I honked the horn and waved my arm out the window to signal the hunters that I needed to talk to them, but they kept walking their steady pace, without visibly speeding up or slowing down.
The creatures I saw were definitely humanoid in shape – head, torso, two legs, two arms. They walked upright. They had a bulky appearance, but were not bears or any other four legged animal. I had mentally classified the creatures as “hunters”, but the classification did not fit very well. I thought it was too early in the year for hunting season (later confirmed). I did not see any sign of rifles, bows, quivers, backpacks, water jugs or other paraphernalia hunters normally carry with them. No vehicles or camp gear was visible. They were not riding horses. They were not wearing orange jackets, camouflage suits, chaps, hats or other clothing humans wear. They were uniformly dark in color from head to foot. They did not appear to be loggers, ranchers, forest service staff, mushroom pickers, horseback packers or any other type individual one might expect to see at this time and place. There was absolutely no gear of any sort visible. I briefly wondered if they might be military men on some sort of a training mission, but quickly discarded the idea because while military people sometimes dress in uniform dark colors, they always carry a lot of gear – weapons, ammo, food, radios, helmets, etc – and these creatures were not carrying anything. I also considered moonshiners or illegal marijuana growers but discarded the concept as not fitting these circumstances.
About 20 to 30 seconds after the initial sighting as I was struggling to resolve these puzzling inconsistencies, I realized with a shock that maybe the creatures might not be hunters after all but were in fact sasquatches. I had seen the Patterson/Gimlin film a few years earlier but had mentally thrown it into a category of “don’t believe until there is more evidence”. Now in a flash I excitedly thought “They do exist! I’m looking at them! Sasquatches are real! Maybe that film wasn’t a hoax!”
I shook my wife to wake her and began simultaneously telling her to wake up, get the camera out of the back seat, take a photo, count the creatures, and that I thought bigfoots were real and that we were seeing several of them. She couldn’t get awake fast enough to fully understand what I was trying to say or do any of the several tasks I was excitedly telling her to do. She did see the creatures but doesn’t remember the incident, since she had only been partially awake for about 15 seconds before the last one disappeared.
Our car soon reached the point nearest where I had first seen the figures but by then all but one had disappeared into the trees. As the car reach Point B (See Sketch 2 & 3), I saw the last creature take a few steps just as it entered the tree line (Point 6). It had its back to me and didn’t look left or right as it walked into the trees and disappeared. The sighting was over.
The creatures walked in a purposeful gait, not dawdling nor running. I don’t recall noticing anything special about their gait, height, posture or anatomy, beyond they were bulky. I heard no sounds and do not recall any strange smells, even though my window was down. At no point were we closer than about 100 or 125 yards to the creatures.
The entire episode took perhaps 45 seconds. During this time, I could only look for a few seconds and then would look back to check the road to make sure I wouldn’t hit an obstacle. I absolutely could not afford to damage our car which could endanger my family.
Before the realization dawned that these might be sasquatches, I was very irritated at the rude behavior of the hunters. All I wanted to know was if I could get back to civilization on the road I was on. These hunters had ignored the unwritten rule of remote areas to provide help to fellow travelers in need. Instead they had walked away and disappeared into the forest so they could selfishly continue their hunting. Or, so I thought.
The behavior of the figures – remaining out of sight until the car was fairly close, standing up, milling around, and then walking briskly to the nearest concealment – did not match anything I have ever seen humans do. Humans in remote areas usually acknowledge the presence of each other and in my experience total strangers almost always say a few words to each other, especially when someone waves and calls to them.
As we passed the area where the hunters had stood up, I considered stopping the car, getting out and yelling at the hunters / sasquatches to ask if the road would take us to the highway, but since they had ignored my arm waving and horn honking, and walked away it was clear they didn’t want to talk. I also thought of getting out and looking around where I had first seen them, but my wife who was fully awake by this time, didn’t want me to get out of the car. I realized that the creatures might indeed be bigfoots and I wasn’t sure what might happen if I left the car and gave the appearance of chasing them. My wife and I agreed it was critical to get my family off that mountain to safety before dark, so we did not stop.
Despite the “flash of insight” that the creatures were sasquatches, I continued to be unsure of that conclusion. Such a conclusion was a huge step. How could I be sure the creatures were indeed sasquatches? The world is a big place and my understanding of all the possible explanations was so limited. This was my first (and only) visit to these mountains. Perhaps there was another explanation. What was clear, that I wasn’t going to get any more direct input from the creatures that had walked away without a word and disappeared.
Then I thought of one last test I could apply to the sighting of the creatures. In my experience people always have clothing, gear, tools or other physical objects. So far as I had seen these creatures had none, but perhaps they were indeed humans and they had a base camp nearby where they had left their gear. We had seen no such base camp on the way to this location, but perhaps there was a camp somewhere ahead. The terrain constrained both foot and vehicular traffic to follow the ridgeline. If we saw a base camp in the next few miles with any kind of gear at all, then I would conclude that these creatures were just humans following some mighty strange practices. And maybe there would be someone in such a camp who could tell us if we could get back to the highway on the road we were on. I explained this to my wife, who by this time was fully awake. So for the next ten miles or so, we looked for such a base camp but saw nothing.
For a couple of hours after the sighting we continued to drive generally north and came to progressively better roads until we got safely back to paved State Highway 82 where we turned right and drove on to Joseph, the town beside Wallowa Lake. I was very thankful to have completed the journey safely and to this day remain deeply thankful that my family was not stranded in the mountains.
A few days later on the 4th of July, we visited my wife’s relatives on their large eastern Oregon ranch about 75 miles southwest of where we had seen the creatures. They and their ancestors had lived and grazed sheep and cattle for more than a century on their ranch in almost identical terrain with similar climatic conditions. I briefly described the sighting and asked if they had seen bigfoots in the Oregon. They responded that they had no personal experience of bigfoot, they didn’t know what was in California, but even if bigfoots existed in California, that they didn’t believe bigfoots existed in Oregon. Since I had recently married into the family and didn’t want to be labeled a nutcase, I dropped the subject. A couple of weeks later, I mentioned the incident to a co-worker, who also indicated non-belief. After that, I don’t recall thinking of or discussing the incident, until I prepared this report.
I remain convinced we saw a group of sasquatches that day. I am glad to have a forum to present this report. Hopefully this report can add one data point to the sasquatch knowledge base.
Sketch 1 – Location
Sketch 2 – Sighting
Sketch 3 – Interpretation of events
ALSO NOTICED: See main report
OTHER WITNESSES: My wife was in the car, but she was asleep.
OTHER STORIES: No.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: About 2:00 PM, on a clear, warm, sunny day.
ENVIRONMENT: Broad ridgeline covered with bushes (sagebrush?) and clumps of grass with a few scattered trees.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Scott Taylor:
The witness and I talked over the phone about this report. I was impressed by the very careful job of recording the account of what he and his family experienced. There is not a lot to add that he has not already addressed in his narrative. The witnesses report stands well on its own.
The witness provided the attached sketches that accompany this report.
I did some searching on Google Maps, with the terrain feature turned-on. As near as I could determine, this witness was likely on or near what is now USFS Rd 62, or a trail nearby. There was only one place that I found that matched his description.
Because of the details provided, the very remote location, and the description of the creatures he observed, I believe that this witness observed a family of sasquatch that never expected to see a human in this place.
About BFRO Investigator Scott Taylor:
Scott Taylor is an aerospace manager. He lives in Spanaway, Washington. He had his first bigfoot encounter in October 2005 where he smelled it, was followed and then heard vocalizations. He attended the 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 BFRO Expeditions in the Washington Cascades, the 2007 BFRO Expedition in the central Oregon Cascades and the 2007 Utah Expedition in the Uintas and He attended the 2008 and 2009 Olympic Peninsula Expeditions and co-lead the 2013 Expedition.