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DATE: 29th, 1st, 4th
PROVINCE: British Columbia
LOCATION DETAILS: Paul Lake Provincial Park campground is located to the northeast of the city of Kamloops, BC.
NEAREST TOWN: Kamloops
NEAREST ROAD: Paul Lake Road (becomes Pinantan Lake rd closer in to Kamloops)
OBSERVED: We were camping in Paul Lake Provincial Park at the upper end of Paul Lake campground over the Canada Day holiday. We were told by the park operator to be "bear aware" because the Saskatoon berries were ripening and "every bear within 100 miles knew it". We did notice much more wildlife this year than last year, which was our first time staying at the park. We saw two large black bears moving up the mountain past our campsite the first morning we were there.
Three separate events occured during our stay that merit the attention of BFRO. The first occurred at our campsite on the 3rd night we were there. We had been having problems with a wood rat trying to make a nest in the engine of our car. For two nites straight we had heard him knocking around in our car. I was concerned about flammable straw/gnawed tubes/gnawed wires and had chased him out twice. He usually showed up about 5-10 minutes after we went to bed. On the night in question I was lying in my sleeping bag, waiting for the rat to show up. He did, but instead of going to the car he scampered under the tent floor very near my bag. Surprised and not quite believing, I felt the lump he made in the floor of the tent and felt the warmth of his body, and I noticed that it was shaking like a leaf, like it was scared.
I assumed a coyote or something had scared him, got a house shoe and banged him a couple of times until he left (I was really tired of this rat), then laid down and assumed I'd be able to get to sleep. My wife woke up with the banging but almost immediately dozed again. About 5 minutes after the rat had left, I heard footsteps very near our tent, very quiet, but definitely bipedal. I only heard 2 or 3 near our tent, but my wife says she heard it circle our campsite a couple of times. Whatever it was was walking very slowly, as if stepping and looking around, then stepping again. Thinking it was kids looking for something to steal (though impressed by how quiet they were) I was just starting to get out and look around when the strangest yell I've ever heard in my life sounded out very close to our campsite, in the woods up the mountain. It wasn't a scream, but a very complex set of warbly type sounds that sounded almost like an owl but much deeper. I've heard wolves, coyotes, loons, squirrels, and been scared by owls more times than I care to admit but this was just WEIRD. It woke my wife up completely, who asked what the hell was THAT? We asked the next morning if anyone else had heard anything - the folks in the next campsite said no but were a bit standoffish. The park operator suggested a cougar but I don't think so. It was definitely not a bear. I've searched various sites looking for sound bites and I found a site with courting calls of Barred Owls and that's closest but not deep enough and this was only made by one animal.
This lasted much longer (total about 10-15 seconds). It sounded like an animal, not a bird. We didn't hear anything else and eventually got to sleep, thinking that an owl had spooked us.
The second incident happened the next day (1-July). Thunderstorms had moved through the area and cooled things down nicely. My wife and I decided to walk in the rain from the day use parking lot to the west end of the lake and back. No one else was on the trail or in the day use area - the rain had kept everyone close to home that evening. We went over the shoulder and down to the lake level on the other (west) side where it started raining hard with lightning. Concerned about the worsening weather, I convinced my wife to return and we did. By the time we regained the shoulder, the storm had skirted us and it was only lightly raining. As we descended the shoulder to return to the day use lot, I noticed how quiet the woods were but ascribed it to the just passing storm. It stopped raining and was what I call "spitting", i.e. a drop every now and then. It was about 7:00 pm in the evening.
About 2/3 of the way down the trail, I had gone ahead of my wife (who was taking a picture of a tree or something) when I transitioned from a duff-covered portion of the trail to a portion with gravel/rocks. I scuffed a foot (i.e. made a noise). I was surprised to hear a loud GRUNT and immediately afterwards the very loud snap of a large branch being broken off to my left, up the mountain from the trail. I looked up and to the left, where I saw a large, fallen tree, 40-50 ft from the trail. Crouched by the log was something large, with reddish-brown hair. The colour of the hair and the size made me immediately think "grizzly" but grizzlies aren't really known around Paul Lake (I had checked after we saw the black bears). I also thought of an orangutan but I know there are none of those in BC.
There was a significant amount of undergrowth, and there were a couple of saplings obscuring my view, so all I was able to see was a large amount of reddish-brown hair and vague outlines of a form, greatly obscured by the plant material. Then it stood up (I assumed the bear was trying to figure out what had made the noise) but I noticed it seemed to have an arm up across where I assumed the head would be, which struck me as a little odd. It then moved away very quickly, making no noise as it did so. I saw it look back once more after it turned, as if to make sure it wasn't being followed.
Convinced I had startled a very large bear, possibly a grizzly, I ran back to my wife, told her this and we immediately began talking VERY loudly until we got back to the parking lot. There was no one else around except one guy looking at the trail sign. It was only later that I realized that the creature hadn't gotten back down on all fours as it left. That was a bad moment, let me tell you! I get chills even now as I type this. I distinctly remember it standing up, looking at me with it's arm across it's face (couldn't see any details because of the undergrowth), then turning and moving off without getting back down on all fours. Very quickly, and with no noise (which surprised me because I've startled bears before while hiking and when they run they tend to just galump through the forest making tons of noise). The whole encounter was over in less than 10 seconds.
The last incident occurred the nite before we left (Sunday July 4th). It was dusk and we had decided to go down to say goodbye to the lake. We were sitting reading etc. and just enjoying the peace and quiet. There were some folks fishing, including a couple of girls in a paddle boat about 100 yards out. It was VERY quiet - no birds etc. which surprised me but I didn't think too much about it. After a while, I started hearing splashes and, thinking the trout had started jumping, looked out to see how big they were (they sounded like big fish from the splashes). Within a minute or so, I noticed that the splashes were all concentrated around the girls in the paddle boat and a guy in a canoe, about 100 feet further out in the lake than they were. I also realized that I wasn't watching fish jump, but someone throwing rocks at them from the shoreline. I got up to look down the shore (to the west) when I caught a fleeting glance of a rock sillouhetted against the sky, coming from the woods west of the day use area. It made me mad - I pointed the splashes out to my wife and said some idiots were throwing rocks at people in the lake and someone could get hurt. It continued for about 5-7 minutes and then the girls moved farther out in the lake. It wasn't until later that I realized that the rocks were pretty big (i.e. not pebbles or "skips") and unless a pretty big slingshot was involved I don't think a human could have gotten the rocks out that far into the lake. The rocks (I only saw one against the evening sky) came from the area I had seen the "bear" in a couple of days before.
OTHER WITNESSES: My wife heard the footsteps, the cry, and saw the splashes from the rocks. Our daughter slept through the cry, wasn't with us on the hike. Don't know if she paid attention to the rocks or not. We asked some folks if hey had heard anything but they said no.
OTHER STORIES: No. Closest would have been the report near Merritt earlier in the year (May?).
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Campsite visit - around midnite. Cloudy, warm but not hot. Lake "bear sighting", see above, rock throwing calm, clear evening no wind. Very quiet and peaceful.
ENVIRONMENT: See mgmt report on the Paul Lake website from Parks BC - very thorough and complete description of the natural features of the park.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Blaine McMillan :
I spoke to the witness by phone.
The incidents he described happened over the July long weekend holiday in Canada.
In the first incident both he and his wife heard a "definite bipedal footsteps" approaching their tent and circling their campsite.
There is a sound clip of bipedal walking on the BFRO web site, in the Sound Recording section (click here). The sound clip is not from this incident, but it is a good example of what people describe when they say "definite bipedal footsteps".
About BFRO Investigator Blaine McMillan :
- Retired Canadian Military (Reg Force) Safety Systems / Aviation technician with experience on CF-101 Voodoo, CT-133 Silverstar and various SAR platforms including CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130 Hercules.
- Married with two young sons. An avid camper, hunter and fisherman.
- Holds a BA in Criminology from the University of Manitoba, courses in Alternate Dispute Resolution, Anthropology and Political Science
- Attended the BFRO BC Expeditions in August of 2005, 2006, 2012 as well as Vancouver Island 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014.
- Organized the 2007, 2008 Vancouver Island as well as 2009 North Vancouver Island Expeditions.
- Author of "Woodknocks and Tossed Rocks: Searching for Sasquatch with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.