Geographical Index > United States > California > El Dorado County > Report # 15821|
Submitted by witness on Tuesday, September 12, 2006.
Backpacker's moonlit encounter near the trail from Wright's Lake to Enchanted Pools
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COUNTY: El Dorado County
LOCATION DETAILS: trail from Wright's Lake to Enchanted Pools
NEAREST TOWN: Wright's Lake
NEAREST ROAD: Wright's road
OBSERVED: I used to live in Camino, CA and would go up into Desolation Wilderness as often as I could. The trout fishing was really incredible and it left a wonderful lasting memory with me. Since moving from the area, I hadn't been there in several years. I talked to a friend of mine about going up and camp overnight and do some stream fishing. He agreed and also invited another friend along for the ride.
We got up there in the early afternoon and hiked upstream from Wright's lake and then set up camp. A couple hours later a ranger came by and informed us that we hadn't actually made it into Desolation Wilderness yet, and that we needed to keep hiking for a while. We broke camp and then the 2 guys that were with me, suggested that we go into Placerville and get a room. Apparently they weren't up to camping and fishing after all. I said no thanks and that I wanted to come up here, to come up there and fish, not go party somewhere in town. So they left and I went up the hill farther. The ranger had suggested a great camping and fishing location, but because it was starting to get later in the afternoon, there was no way I would make it all the way before dark. He gave me a general location of where it could be found and what trails to take to get there, but when most of the area is large (football field size) sheets of granite, the trails are only marked with stacks of rocks and they are few and far between.
I ended up getting lost a bit, but I could hear the stream flowing over rocks to the north of me. I walked in another half mile or so and located the stream. Below me about 35 feet down a granite cliff was a stream that did have a pool in it, right on the tree line.
I thought what a beautiful place that would be to have a campsite and then picked my way down the steep cliff side. I set up my camp directly next to the pool and also with the treeline and some very dense woods about 6 feet away to the north. The pool was on the east side of me. I started fishing as soon as my tent was back up and had a gorgeous finish to a very nice day. Then after it got dark, I climbed into my sleeping bag looking to the east to the Crystal range, I think it is called, and watched as the glow of a full moon worked it's way up over the top of the granite mountains. Once it was over, my day was complete and I decided to go to sleep. That was at 10:30 pm.
As I started to drift off to sleep, I heard what can only be described as a very low rumbling growl. When I go into a wilderness area, especially a place I know has bears really thick, I always carry a handgun with me. On this occassion it was a .45 compact. When I heard the growl, it really scared the crap out of me, because it was so close. I jumped up, with my .45 in hand and looked out the top of the screen mesh on the tent. I could see a dark mass about 4 1/2 feet tall, right at the edge of the tree line, 6 feet from my head. I yelled some really loud obscenities and started climbing out of my tent. Once I was clear of the door I brought up my pistol and fired into a dead tree a few feet away from what I thought was a big black bear. As soon as the pistol went off, it turned and ran back into the brush, but it didn't seem to go very far and that concerned me. Bears will usually run like heck and for a long time when they get a shot that close. This seemed to go maybe 50 feet or so into very thick brush. I could hear it thrashing about as it moved deeper into the trees, but then it just stopped. It all went quiet for about 15 minutes or so and then I tried going back to bed. Shortly after I started hearing what sounded like somewhat large rocks, hitting in the water, just above the pool I was camped beside. It would happen every couple of minutes or so. It was the sound of not only the splash, but also of the rock hitting other rocks, submerged in shin deep water. That "cracking" sound. This really concerned me, thinking the "bear" may be circling my campsite and trying to get at me from a different angle. I got out out my tent on several occasions, and was trying to see if I could make out any movement on the other side of the stream but nothing. I usually keep a small flashlight in my tackle box, which I had, but it was one of those small "shake it" and it charges up the cell and lights up for a few minutes. Not much of a flashlight really and worse yet, the handle is clear and so when I would turn it on, the handle would light up too, actually making it harder to see. I had a full moon though and the area is surrounded with stark white granite slabs, and so except in the darkest of the woods, I could see pretty clearly. This went on like this until 2:00 am. That was when I got another "visit". I didn't get to see it, this time, but I heard movement really close to my tent again, same place as the first time, and when I yelled at it, I got a return of something that sounded like an "Ooof" "Ooof", but really deep sounding. I jumped out of my tent again thinking I was going to see it again, but didnt. Still, I put another shot into the dead tree and off it went crashing through the brush again. Again it only went about 50 feet back. There was something odd about the way it sounded when it was running too. I didn't catch what it was though until I listened to the footsteps of a bipedal walking from your site here. It was only on two feet!! It concerned me enough to realize that it didn't sound like a 4 legged animal at the time, but I didn't know what was different until I heard your recordings. Anyway, still thinking I was dealing with a rogue bear, I started trying to figure out what it wanted with me. Was I camped on it's trail to the water? Was it used to finding food in tents? Desolation is a very high traffic place. This particular place was a ways off the trail and it didn't appear to have much in the way of hikers. Hikers usually leave some kind of sign, trash, fish hooks, something to say that they were here before, but this place was very clean.
So I decide to take my sleeping bag out of the tent and move over to the middle of this big slab of granite that I am on. There is about a 4 foot tall ledge facing the woods where all the activity was going on. But now the treeline is 50 feet away and not 6. Figuring this would give me some advance warning if I got charged. The rocks kept flying, and I kept trying to sleep with one eye open, hoping the sun would come up soon, and checking my watch all night long. Then "she" showed up. It was 4:40 am and something woke me. I heard movement at the tree line again and I looked to where it all started from. I didn't see anything but then I looked at my tent. Standing right next to my tent was the "creature?". My tent is about 4 feet tall maybe a little less and what I saw was more than twice as tall. At first I couldn't see any features, just the outline. Then it took a couple of steps towards me. I almost pee'd my pants right there. I picked up the .45 and took a shot off to the left of it. It stopped and looked at me. Then it started walking towards me again. It was very fast. I don't mean that it was running, it's just that the steps were so big, the distance was closing very fast. Had it been a bear, I would have shot it immediately, but honestly, I don't think my .45 would have been able to stop it. One shot would definitely not killed it or stopped it in its tracks. Then as it was approaching me, I took another shot, but this one much closer. I could see it very clearly at this point and yes I did pee my pants. The second shot made her stop again, and then she took off running to the northwest through an area of mostly granite slab and dotted with scrub pine. This was the last time I saw her. She ran off out of sight at great speed. I stayed up the rest of the night until it got light enough for me to hike back towards Wrights Lake to the South West. For the remainder of the darkness I pretty much stayed put with the ledge to my back and my gun in my hand, and shaking in my skin. I have not been able to sleep right since then, and for the next couple of months after the incident, I couldn't sleep at all. Everytime I closed my eyes, I would hear the growls and the rocks splashing and then see her coming at me. I would be willing to take someone back up there to show where it happened, but only during daylight hours. I have been a hunter and fisherman most of my life and have seen what I thought, was every animal in the woods at one time or another. Nothing like this has ever shown it's face before, and I hope it never does again.
There was another incident however. On December 13th, 1992 up in Snow Mountain Wilderness area, above Elk Creek California. I would be willing to talk to someone about this also.
ALSO NOTICED: There was so much going on. At first, there was the growl heard right outside my tent, and when I jumped up and looked out the rain fly on top, I could see it, crouched down. This is what made me intially think it was a large bear. It was a large mass about 4 1/2 feet tall tucked in the treeline about 6 feet away. When I jumped out and yelled at "it" and then fired my .45 into a dead tree a few feet away, it ran away into the brush, but only about 50 feet back into the woods. This I thought was unusual, because a bear will usually take off running and not stop until sunrise! After about 15 mintues it got really quiet and I assumed it had left the area. But thats when the rocks started landing in the water just upstream about 20 yards. This went on all night long. Just as I was ready to get back to sleep, another rock or two would hit the shallow stream and make a splash as well as the rock on rock "cracking" noise. That was followed up by another visit at 2:00 am and then the biggy at 4:40am.
OTHER WITNESSES: No. Unfortunately it was only me.
OTHER STORIES: no not in this area, and I have been going there for many years. When I lived in the area I used to go into Desolation wilderness all the time. Just about every weekend that I wasn't working during the summer months. I've camped there at Wright's Lake as well as with my stepson at Dark Lake. There was one time when we spent the night at Dark Lake, that we had footsteps all around our campsite and it kept us up all night, not knowing for sure what it was, and there was some wood knocking going on then too. But other than that, the only other time where I had an encounter was a hunting trip into the Snow Mountain wilderness area up above Elk Creek, California. That will be a whole different episode!
TIME AND CONDITIONS: from 10:35pm until 4:40am the following morning.
ENVIRONMENT: It is primarily glaciated granite, surrounded by sparse high altitude pine trees. You know how the trees start getting thin and scraggly when you get up above 7,000 feet.
Follow-up investigation report:
This credible sighting lasted long enough for the witness to make some focused observations. I interviewed the witness by telephone, and asked for some clarifications and other observations not given in the report, based on my notes from the original information submitted. The conversation lasted an hour and a half, discussing a variety of subjects; some not related to the encounter. I undoubtedly did not ask all the questions about the encounter that I could have, and in writing this report from my notes, other questions about movement and morphology have come to mind. I will be in contact with the witness, and may possibly have him take me to the site sometime in the next few weeks. This report may be updated as I learn more about the encounter.
The witness is ex-military, having had training as a sniper; this training involves observation as much or more than it does weapons proficiency. It can be assumed that the witness is excellent at judging distance and size, as well as relative features of the terrain.
In a phone conversation with the witness, the investigator obtained the following information:
When the figure got within about 15 feet of the witness, the bright full moonlight illuminated the front of it and allowed this witness to see some details of the face shape, among other things. The animal's face was "similar to a human," with the nose being slightly wider, and the lips about the same proportion as human. The nostrils faced downward, not outward like a gorilla. The lower jaw was wider and larger in proportion to the head than a human. There was hair on the face and jaw, similar to a beard, about 1-1.5" in length. The hair on the head, shoulders and arms was considerably longer, ranging from 3-8". The hair was not thick like fur, as the skin could be seen through it in places. The witness said that he could see breasts, and decided that it was a female based on that observation; "Breasts were large and saggy, but everything was for the most part, proportionate. They weren't excessively large. Yes, I saw the nipples, brown in color".
The eyes appeared brown, with no whites showing. Eyes were about the same size in proportion to the head as a human. The level of the mouth was about even with the shoulders. The arm length was longer than human, with the fingertips not quite reaching the knees.
The head was conical in appearance from the side, but the "cone" was not evident when facing the animal. The back of the head appeared mainly flat coming down from the peak of the "cone" toward the shoulders. (The above description is as related by the witness sitting on the ground 15' away from the animal, looking upwards at it)
The arms were carried low while walking both at a "normal" pace and when retreating rapidly; they did not bend at the elbow as much as a person moving rapidly. The walking strides were particularly long, covering a lot of distance quickly, but not in a jerky or forced manner. The fast retreat involved more arm motion, and when asked specifically about whether at any time both feet were off the ground (running; vs. one foot in the air at a time being considered walking), the witness thought that they might have been off the ground at the same time, but wasn't certain. The overall motion while moving rapidly was said to be a loping motion. Before the retreat, the animal turned it's head rapidly and looked toward the treeline. This movement was stated to involve only the head, which turned sideways parallel to the shoulders, followed by the body in the same direction, at which time the animal began it's rapid retreat in that direction. It reportedly did not head directly toward the treeline and cover, but headed off over the granite keeping the same general course until it was out of sight.
The initial growl was very loud, and deeper in timbre than the witness could imitate. The witness said that it seemed that the growl was directed at them, and not an ancillary growl in general. The "oof oof" sounds were also very deep, each lasting about a half second, separated by as much time (from witness's imitation).
Height is estimated at 84"-90" (7'-7'6"), based on the relative height when compared to the tent, which measures 42" tall. Witness said that it was about twice as tall or a little more than the tent when standing next to it.
Rock throwing came from the same strip of trees where the 4.5' tall mass was initially seen. This strip of trees was about 15' wide near the tent, and narrowed to about 6' where it reached the stream. The strip of trees widened as it got further from the stream; pie shaped. The initial sound of the animal running away went into the thicker section of the strip away from the stream.
There was no indication that there was more than one animal involved, or in the area. The audible rock throwing did not occur while the animal was in sight.
No smells were mentioned.
No eye reflection was mentioned.
When asked about whether the animal had any expression (anthropomorphic) on it's face as it approached, the witness said that it had none that they could discern.
Exchanges of topo maps and aerial photographs have pinpointed the location of the incident.
Added Oct. 25:
I returned to the location with the witness, and took pictures and measurements. I reconstructed his campsite with flagging tape to show orientation of the tent, and relative location(s) of the animal. I also videotaped his accounting of what happened. We found the bullet holes in the stump, and they lined up exactly with the spot where he said he was standing outside his tent. We also found a depression in the ground, 8'x6' x 3' deep, in the general location that the rocks were being thrown from. I tossed a couple baseball sized rocks into the stream from there, and the witness said that was similar to the sound that he heard. We did a quick survey of the area, and found a couple foot shaped depressions, but they were old and could have easily been made by a hiker. No tree-breaks, stacking, isolated limb breaks or other suspected sasquatch related behavior was noticed. Any tracks left from the encounter would have been obliterated by the winter snow and runoff. Some of the measurements were off from the witness's estimations; the stump was about 24', not 6' from the tent door. The treeline was about 15' at the closest to the tent. The animal did approach within 15' of his hiding place, though. It should be mentioned that the terrain in this area is three-dimensional. There are ledges and slopes and steps everywhere; the location where the witness was sitting on the granite against a ledge was actually several feet lower in elevation than the water level near his tent 25' away. The spot where the animal was standing next to the tent was almost a foot higher than the ground the tent was on, and the base of the stump was over 2' higher than the ground at the tent. The spot where it stood 15' from the witness was a little over a foot higher than the ground at his location. While the terrain in that area has a lot of open space on the granite, the drainages and cracks and canyons are very thick with trees and brush. There are nearby grassy meadows and swampy areas, as well as mountain lakes and streams. We noticed bear tracks on route to the site, and there was evidence of deer, so this area can support large animals at least in the summer. Clarification on the amount of light available at 04:30 that night: the full moon was at the back of the witness and not diffused by trees. In the clear air of the mountains or desert, a full moon is bright enough to allow you to read a book; this is based on the personal observations of both the witness and the investigator.
About BFRO Investigator B Brewer:
Former student of Anthropolgy and Primatology as part of studies at the University of Oregon. Currently architectural designer/fabricator in CA. Active field researcher in Western states. Attended the following BFRO expeditions: California Redwoods - 2005; California Redwoods - 2006; California Sierra Nevadas - 2005: New Mexico 2005 ; Arizona Mogollon Rim - 2006 , Oregon / California Border Expedition in November 2006. Oregon 2007, Sierras 2008, 2009, Redwoods 2008, 2009, 2010, Bluff Creek 2011, 2012, Shasta 2012.