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COUNTY: Medina County
LOCATION DETAILS: Hinckley Reservation of the Cleveland Metro Parks. West Drive, Johnson Picnic Area. Buckeye Trail south of West Dr., then west at the Bridle Trail fork/Ledge Lake Loop Trail. Subject was @ 100 yards WNW of the fork.
NEAREST TOWN: Hinckley
NEAREST ROAD: State Route 303
OBSERVED: Looking for mushrooms on trails south of Hinckley Lake, OH. Very few people back where I was. Heard rustling thru brush below me. I was walking a ridgeline above and east of creek. Noise was below my position. I froze and scanned area. No sighting but I heard a very distinct wood knock. Just one. Like a bat hitting a tree. No wind. I've heard trees clanging together in wind. Very distinct. Only one woman and dog farther down trail. Two people on horses went up Ridgeline to the east shortly after. Never heard sound like this in woods.
ALSO NOTICED: Very quiet day
OTHER WITNESSES: None as far as I know
OTHER STORIES: None from this area.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Late afternoon
ENVIRONMENT: Hardwood forest. Lots of deadfalls.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Mike Stanec:
Subject submitted report shortly after returning to his lodging on 04/29/2023, after mushroom hunting in the Hinckley Reservation of the Cleveland Metro Parks.
Weather conditions on this date/time were high temp of 50 degrees F @ mid-afternoon, with light rain and clouds throughout the day, winds were sustained @ 12 MPH with gusts to 20 MPH.
05/02/2023 17:32 Spoke via telephone with the reporting subject. He reported that he lives in Michigan and is here in Northeast OH working for the Federal Government. He states that he returns to MI every other weekend, but when he remains in OH, he typically will hike and recreate outdoors. On the date of the report, the subject was mushroom hunting in a lightly travelled section of the Buckeye Trail, within the Hinckley Reservation of the Cleveland Metro Parks. The subject stated that he had seen only one hiker, accompanied by a dog, and two horseback riders, the entire time he was mushroom hunting. He stated that he had travelled along the Buckeye Trail, south, from the Johnson Picnic Area, off of West Drive. He continued west on the Buckeye Trail at a fork with the Bridal Trail/Ledge Lake Loop Trail. When he was ascending the ridge, he heard movement below him and to his left (SSE) of what he felt was something large, not a squirrel or deer, he states he froze in place for several seconds. When he commenced to searching for mushrooms, approximately 100 yards from the fork, he heard what he described as a distinct "wood knock". He described the sound as a clear, sharp "baseball bat striking a tree without bark" sound. The sound was never repeated. The subject states he is familiar with the sound of trees striking each other in the wind, but he stated that this sound was "sharp", and that wind was calm during his mushroom hunt.
05/09/2023 15:53 Follow-up in the area of the reported wood knock. Weather was 65 degrees, with a light breeze @ 12 mph and clear skies. Forest is predominately hardwood; maple, beech, oak, et.al. with very light undergrowth. Topography contains several ridges 30ft-70ft above drainages (hollows) that supply Johnson Creek. The MetroParks recently completed considerable erosion control construction along the banks of Johnson Creek from West Drive upstream approximately 1/4 mile.
This investigator started from the Johnson Picnic area and proceeded south along the Buckeye Trail. Encountering one pedestrian with a dog at the Johnson Creek crossover (ford). I continued uphill to the top of the ridge and the reported location, see coordinates. The area seems lightly travelled. Went off trail and descended to Johnson Creek, as the subject stated that was where he originally heard noises. Creek is predominantly shale with few mud flats. proceeded along the creek bed for 1/4 mile without finding any tracks or disturbances or signs that were not identifiable. Proceeded up and over the next ridge to the south with some trail navigation but primarily off trail. Some squirrels and birds, no other fauna noted. Returned via bridal trail. Observed a jogger approximately 100 yards ahead at a trail crossing. Found several muddy areas along the bridal trail but observed no unidentifiable tracks. Encountered another pedestrian with a dog north of the Johnson Creek crossing. Total time in the woods, 1 hour 10 minutes. Based upon the many deadfalls fresh and older, it's difficult to determine whether the reporting subject heard a tree-knock or simply a tree falling and striking another. I did have several occasions during my follow-up where the wind was moving the trees and rubbing, creaks and light rustling sounds were noted, but never did I hear a loud, crisp "knock". I cannot conclude that the subject heard a "wood-knock" from an unobserved creature. But wind conditions on the day of the follow-up and the reporting date were similar and I never heard anything similar to what the subject heard; therefore, I cannot rule it out either. This investigator will scout this area more frequently in the future to attempt to compile more data.
About BFRO Investigator Mike Stanec:
Mike is a retired Firefighter and Paramedic, with special training in Search & Rescue. He has been an Investigator for the BFRO since June, 2022, primarily focusing on Northeast Ohio. Mike has attended several Ohio Expeditions and other related activities. He assists other Investigators in research and investigations.