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COUNTY: Hocking County
LOCATION DETAILS: Rockbridge State Nature Preserve
NEAREST TOWN: Rockbridge
NEAREST ROAD: 33
OBSERVED: I stopped at a Nature Preserve to hike. On my way in, I had passed at least 14 people at various ways on their way out. I had walked down across the bridge and was looping back and it was about 4pm, As I was rounding a bend, I heard something big run away in the woods. I thought I had scared a deer and continued on. This is when I rounded the bend and saw a print on the trail going the opposite direction of whatever I heard scamper away. The ground was hard and the print was only about 1/4" in the dirt. There were no other people prints or anything on the trail, As I'm taking pictures, something crashes in the trees above me... I covered my head waiting for a big branch to fall on me. After that, I high tailed it out of there. I left passing another half a dozen people on their way in as I made my way out. I never expected or was looking for anything on such a populated path. If it wasn't for the fact I had heard something right before and right after I found the print, I would have seriously leaned toward a fake.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: 4:00pm, sunny, cooler.
ENVIRONMENT: Park is situated along the Hocking River, notable for it's natural rock bridge.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Bea Mills:
Update: On July 1, Investigator Marc DeWerth and myself went to the location for an on-site investigation. Track was still visible and congruent with the witness' recount and submitted photos. Photos were taken for documentation purposes. Measurements are as follows:
Toe width: ~7.75"
Heel Width: ~6.5"
The track was not cast due to normal erosion, time elapse and recent heavy rains. We took the following photos:
The witness felt like there was two separate individuals around him as he could hear heavy movement to both sides of him. He was truly terrified during the event which caused him to panic and flee the area. Having vast experience in this part of Fairfield county and having a vast knowledge of all the close by nature preserves, I would not be surprised of the possibility. There is a nice convergence of creeks (Buck Run) a few miles down eventually leading to the Hocking River and down through the Wayne National forest.
The photos submitted to us by the witness:
About BFRO Investigator Bea Mills:
Bea Mills is an avid outdoors woman currently working in the medical field. A Certified Volunteer Naturalist for Ohio, primarily in the Hocking Hills region, and promoter of education and conservation of natural areas in Ohio.