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COUNTY: Archuleta County
LOCATION DETAILS: The encounter took place above Beaver Meadow Spring in the San Juan National Forest east of Vallecito Reservoir. The camping area is accessed by taking Forest Road 604 from CO 160 and proceeding due north via a welter of forest roads.
NEAREST TOWN: Bayfield, CO.
NEAREST ROAD: CO 160
OBSERVED: Two friends and I went camping in the San Juan National Forest just east of Lake Vallecito on 6-1-04. DC and I were from out of state but JG was a regular camper there. We went 12 miles up the forest service rd. and picked a campsite. We saw no one else that day and it was a dead-end road. JG said it was the first time he'd been there alone.
We spent the day hiking around and cooking meat over the campfire. We did not see or hear anything unusual that day other than a partial horse skeleton.
At about midnight, we were winding down when we heard three, 2-tone howls to the hill approx. 1/4 mile to our north. We knew it was not a coyote but almost sounded like a person trying to imitate a coyote because it had a deeper bass tone.
About five minutes later, we heard the same thing again. Then I heard something like a gunshot in the same area but there was no sonic crack. It was like something hit a tree really hard. Both sounds came from the same place as the first set of howls.
We were all standing around the fire wondering what it was. JG had his shotgun in hand and we were all starting to get a little edgy. We all are police/former police/former military so it takes a lot to get any of us "edgy." We all have camping experience and none of us had ever experienced anything like this before.
About five minutes later, directly to our west, was a very loud 2-tone howl approx. 100 yds. away. It howled again and it was closer so it was closing in on us. DC and I drew our pistols and flashlights and all of us focused on the logging rd. that it/they would have to cross to get to us. There was a bright full moon so the open areas were well illuminated. It howled one more 2-tone howl before stopping at what we estimated to be 50 yds. away in the woodline. It seemed like it covered at least 50 yds. going through the woods while howling three times. Whatever it was was BIG and LOUD!
There was a lot more bass to the howls than a dog/coyote/wolf has. Each time it howled it was 2-tone, in a series of three and it seemed unemotional or intelligent.
About a minute later, another series of three 2-toned howls came from the hill to the south approx. 1/4 mile away. It seemed to be answering the one hiding in the treeline in front of us. Then the one in the treeline let out three more of the same howls. Let me stress again, this thing was LOUD!
We were all pretty shaken. We felt that we had aroused at least three, big things that were communicating among themselves and closing in on us. We were all facing out from a dying fire with weapons and flashlights drawn. We didn't know if we were being studied or they were getting in position for attack.
We decided to leave. After some debate, we decided to pack the trucks while one of us took turns watching with flashlight and gun. A few minutes later we were packed and headed down the mountain to the main rd. We did not see or hear anything while packing or leaving.
When we got to the road, we stopped to unload our guns and stow them legally in the trucks. There was one house close to the road and after a while the dogs started to bark. I joked to JG that "they" were coming after us. Just then, we heard another set of howls about a mile back the rd. we'd just come down. Whatever it was had followed us and we left immediately.
We were not sure what it was that night but after talking about the incident quite a bit, we think we had a Bigfoot encounter. It was a remote, wooded, mountain location with a large lake over the hill. There were at least three intelligent beings communicating that sounded loud and large. We had been leaving our scent all around and had been cooking meat all day. No person would be crazy enough to risk getting shot playing a prank on us. The howls were very eerie. Like I said, they were all like the first 2-tones of a wolf howl but much deeper. There was no trailing off like a dog/coyote/wolf howl, just 2-tones. Each 2-tone howl was in a series of three howls that took approx. 5-6 seconds per series.
The only thing missing from the encounter was the lack of the famous Bigfoot stench. There was no wind so maybe the thing in the treeline was far enough away for it not to reach us.
We are not out to hoax anyone. We hope none of our colleagues find out so our day to day judgment is not questioned or ridiculed. This was the first time any of us had seen any of the other ones scared. We just felt that we had to share our experience for what its worth.
ALSO NOTICED: The dead horse that was found was weird. It had a rusty shoe on one hoof. We wondered why it was so far from a ranch and had not been buried. JG went back about a month later and saw where there were worn depressions in the ground in the treeline facing our camp. He said you could not see someone standing there from the camp fire but when standing in the depressions you could see the fire ring through the trees. He said there were no clear prints but it looked like something had stood there and shuffled in place a while.
OTHER WITNESSES: There were 3 of us. We are all long time friends. We were all just sitting around talking and cooking out over the camp fire.
OTHER STORIES: I'm not from there but JG has not heard anything like that in that specific area.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Approximately midnight. Dark but with a full moon. Clear, no wind and about 40 degrees at the coldest.
ENVIRONMENT: It was mostly aspen and pine and there were a lot of deadfalls around. We were in a saddle of 2 hills on the east slope. The lake was on the west side of the hills.
A & G References: Colorado Atlas & Gazetteer, p87: A/B 6
Follow-up investigation report:
Two of the three witnesses were contacted over the course of several months. Both men said they were more than 10 miles up a dirt road and had not seen any other people during their stay.
The first witness, KT, 36, lives in the Midwest and is currently employed as a police officer.
"It almost like we felt we were invading something elseís territory. We were roasting meat by the fire all day, hiking around, leaving our scent. Anything within 5 miles had to know we were there."
After the first vocalizations, KT said he heard a sharp snap come from the woods up the hill where the calls were coming from.
"Iím a range officer with police department, Iím real familiar with gunshots. This didnít have the sonic crack a gunshot has."
As the calls continued, and one animal moved much closer to camp, discomfort turned to alarm.
ďWe felt, being ex-military, like someone was flanking us," KT said. "I felt like we were going to get pinned in. We didnít know what to do. We were facing something unknown. They, whatever it was, were communicating and getting closer. I didnít like the odds."
At that point, the men armed themselves.
"I drew my pistol and aimed my flashlight and I never never draw on duty or anything. It is an absolute last resort. But I felt certain something was going to break through the trees and come running across the road."
"There was no other sound out there, and this was loud. I canít overemphasizes how loud it was, like a big person with big lungs out there," he added. "You know how you can feel base when music is playing? You could feel this thing. There was so much depth to it."
"We were just standing there with our hearts in our throats and starting to shake. And I mean we never get like this. Nothing fazes us."
ďIíve been up against armed people before and Iíve never been as scared as this.Ē
He said he is certain whatever happened wasn't a hoax. "As a police officer I say give me the proof. Iím pretty much convinced thatís what it was just through elimination. I donít see anything else that it could have been."
The second witness, JG, 41 now lives in New Mexico. He said at first, he gave the strange calls little thought. But that changed when he realized that the animals were appearing to communicate with each other.
"There were three calls in a row, perfectly spaced. I can usually imitate noises and things fairly well but I canít make noise that thing made. It sounded like "Aooough." Anyway, at that point, we all pretty much had our guns out at that point. Were we scared? Oh yeah. At first we thought it might be some kind of wild dogs or something, but it was just so perfect: Three calls answered by three calls every time without fail."
"It was clear and loud, but it wasnít screaming. I donít know anything in the wild that makes that noise. I have hunted all my life and trapped and whatever."
"I couldn't see it being people. If it were a person, they would have had to make more of a yelling noise to get to that level of sound."
Shortly thereafter JG heard something come down the hill towards them. "It was crashing like a deer or elk or something when you get it to bust through the brush. I heard it come over hill. It came down just far enough in trees to where it couldnít be seen by light. That one started calling and it was answered by the first one a ways off. It couldnít have been more than 50 to 60 yards in front of our fire. I donít know any animal at all that will just walk up to a fire making noises."
"This went on for almost an hour at 10 or 15 minute intervals - they would just call back and forth. We couldn't see anything even though we had lights going everywhere. And it was there the whole time. It just never moved."
After the three had packed up camp and driven half an hour to get off the mountain, they could still hear the calls. "That's the thing killed me, the noise just carried. You could hear it forever. It just did not sound like it was a bird to me. It sounded more canine, but it wasn't a howl like a dog.
The three later surmised that they may have been under surveillance by juvenile sasquatches.
"We kind of bandied that around afterwards. We kind of thought they might have been juveniles off on their own. That's pure speculation.
"But from one spot on the hill, you could see straight up into the Weminuche Wilderness. If you needed a winter quarters in the cold season, this would be a perfect place - lots of game water, and in the summer thereís a path straight up to wilderness. Looking at it, you couldn't ask for anything better."