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COUNTY: Park County
LOCATION DETAILS: 8.8 miles west of Hwy 285, south side of Park County Road 18 (4-Mile Creek/Horseshoe Basin)
NEAREST TOWN: Fairplay, Colorado
NEAREST ROAD: Park Co. Rd. 18 (200 yards). Hwy 285 (8.8 miles)
OBSERVED: Cabin at 11,000 feet southwest of Fairplay, Colorado, 44 acres. Strange sound one night. Dog-rooster best describes it. First thought was dog hit by a vehicle, then changed to more rooster sounding. Next few days, found and photographed two footprints. Wife noticed "skunk" smell.
ALSO NOTICED: We went up every week this summer. Only saw prints and heard on this one occasion.
OTHER WITNESSES: My wife and I. Heard sound at night. Checked for prints in the morning.
OTHER STORIES: Wife noticed skunky smell on two occasions, later was told there are no skunks at 11,000 feet elevation. Witness noticed a sapling evergreen with its top broken over at about 8 feet off the ground in a nearby avalanche chute in a manner inconsistent with avalanches or rock slides.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Sound at night. Prints found Aug 21 & 25
ENVIRONMENT: Forest turning to willow/grassy/sandy area near creek.
Follow-up investigation report:
Witnesses, a 55-year-old retired geologist and his wife, were sitting in their cabin outside Fairplay when they heard the unusual vocalization.
"At first it sounded like a dog that had been hit by car. Then it turned into a sort of rooster sound. The best we could guess was it was some animal like a sheep getting attacked by a mountain lion. It was dark so we sat tight in the cabin."
Witness estimated the creature making the noise was no more than 100 yards away. "It was very loud. It kept going on for 20 minutes. It was spooky.''
A few days later, the couple found two footprints while walking near a marshy area at the foot of an avalanche chute a couple hundred feet from their cabin. They said the tracks were found in a wash that contained abundant wildlife sign.
"We call it the animal freeway, because we find deer, elk, bear and all sorts of prints out there. But nothing like this one."
Witness said the first track, which had filled with water, appeared to be 16 to 18 inches long.
Wife decribed earlier encounter (no date) with an unknown smell while taking an evening walk with a friend. ""My intiial thought was skunk, but it wasn' as acrid as a skunk or sharp. It didn't burn your eyes, but it had a kind of a dirty, musky skunky smell to it.''
"Then we then we found out skunks don't live at 11,000 feet, so that made us nervous."
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