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Geographical Index > United States > Oregon > Josephine County > Report # 678
Report # 678  (Class A)
Submitted by witness Dr. Matthew Johnson on Sunday, July 2, 2000.
Oregon pyschologist observes a creature resembling Bigfoot about 60 feet away while hiking on a trail with his family
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YEAR: 2000

SEASON: Summer



STATE: Oregon

COUNTY: Josephine County

LOCATION DETAILS: Oregon Caves National Park in Southern Oregon

OBSERVED: Where to begin?  Rochelle and I took our kids to the Oregon Caves National Park in southern Oregon.  We ate lunch at a picnic table and then took a tour of the caves.  The caves were spectacular.  If you haven’t seen them before, they are a must see experience.

Dr. Matthew Johnson with wife Rochelle. Photo taken a few days after the incident when he and his family returned with BFRO Investigators.
Photo by BFRO Investigator John Freitas

Upon our exit of the cave, everyone usually turns to the right to go back down to the gift store and lodge.  However, we are fresh from Alaska and love to hike in the outdoors (i.e., we just moved from Alaska to Oregon earlier this year).   We decided to go left  and hike up to see the Big Tree (i.e., a Douglas fir tree with a circumference of 40 feet that is about 800 to 1,000 years old).  We  hiked for about 2 miles into the forest up the mountain.  As we were hiking up the trail, we smelled a very strong pungent smell. It  was as strong as a skunk but it wasn’t a skunk (i.e., we know what a skunk smells like and it wasn’t a skunk even though it was as strong smelling as a skunk).  We were standing down wind of the smell.

Investigators retrace path taken by Dr. Johnson and his family.
Photo by John Freitas.

We continued to hike up the trail and the trail started to switch back to the right as we climbed the mountain.  There were plenty of tall trees and brush.  I heard a faint sound (i.e., “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!).  At first I thought it was the blood vessels pounding in my head because it was a constant sound / rhythm and I’m out of shape (i.e., it was a big mountain and we were constantly walking up, up, up, up).  We kept walking up the trail.  I heard the sound again except it was louder.  Then I  thought, “This sound is external – not internal.”  We all stopped and I asked, “Do you guys here that sound?”  Rochelle, Levi, Hannah, and Micah looked at me and nodded their heads in affirmation.

Don’t ask me why but we continued to walk up the mountain through the very tall trees and brush.  The sound continued in cycles of five to six repetitions (i.e., Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa). Louder and louder.  Now the sounds were behind us.

I started putting one and one together in my mind and my biological “fight or flight” responses kicked in.  I stopped my family on the trail.  I told them to stay quiet.  I hiked up the hill to our left because I had to go poop ASAP (i.e., this happens when the biological “fight or flight” response kicks in).  While I was doing my duty, I was scanning the woods down the mountain on the other side of the trail my family was standing on.  That’s when I saw it. I saw it come out from behind one tree to the left and walk to another tree to the right. Then it looked back and was watching my family while they were standing on the trail.

Location of the observation, from the perspective of the witness.
Photo by John Freitas.

I’ve hiked through the woods in Alaska numerous times and believe me, I know what a grizzly bear looks like and I know what a  black bear looks like.  I was actually chased by a grizzly bear on the Russian river in Alaska about six or seven years ago.  What I  saw was not a grizzly bear or a black bear.  What I saw walked upright on two legs like a human and it was much taller than a grizzly bear or a black bear.  What I saw was Bigfoot (otherwise known as Sasquatch). 

I pulled up my shorts immediately, walked fast down to the trail and got my family moving up the mountain.  I sure as heck wasn’t going to go back down the trail where we came from and go right to it.  I didn’t tell my wife or children what I saw because I didn’t want them to panic.  At this point, the adrenaline was rushing and I was very hypervigilent (i.e., constantly looking behind us and through the woods).  The sound stopped but I wasn’t convinced we were safe.

When we got to a place where the kids could stop and sit on a fallen log to rest and drink some water, I pulled Rochelle away and told here that she wasn’t going to believe what I saw.  She believed me right away.  She smelled the smell and she heard the repetitive cycles of “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa” and she knows I’m not crazy.  I told her to keep the kids going and that I would stay at the back to keep my eyes on what was behind us.  I told her that if anything came up from behind us or through the woods from the side of us that I would run interference to protect them.  I told her that if this happened, I wanted her to run the kids on the trail, don’t stop, and don’t look back.  We agreed not to tell the children because we didn’t want to panic them.

We never heard the sounds again and I never saw anything after that.  We finally made it out of the woods about 1½ hours later.  We sent the kids into the gift store to look for a gift because we had promised to buy them something if they were good hikers and didn’t complain.  Rochelle and I sat on the bench outside the gift store and talked about the pro’s and con’s of whether or not to report what we smelled, heard, and saw (i.e., I don’t want people to think we are crazy).  Rochelle said it was up to me.  I  decided that I wasn’t going to keep this a secret because it was real and I know I’m sane.  I remembered reading about how the albino gorilla was a myth/legend in Africa for quite some time until someone finally captured one.  Well I’m here to tell you today (and the world) that Bigfoot/Sasquatch is not a myth/legend.  The creature/animal really and truly does exist!!

National Park Service Ranger John accompanies the investigators.
Photo by John Freitas.

After we made our decision, Rochelle went into the gift shop with the kids. I walked to the Park headquarters and reported what I saw to NPS Ranger Beverly.  I sat in the chair stunned and then I began to cry.  All these emotions that I was stuffing due to the adrenaline began to surface now that my family and I were safe.  You don’t know how vulnerable I felt being so far out in the woods without the ability to protect my family in that kind of situation (i.e., no gun).  I told the ranger that I was not crazy.  I gave her my  business card (i.e., I’m a licensed psychologist in private practice).  I told her that I have two master’s degrees and one doctorate degree and that I was an intelligent person.  I told her that I know what I smelled, heard, and saw.  In between the tears and my shaking, I told her that I saw Bigfoot.  She believed me!  She didn’t think I was crazy.  She said that there is a lot about our world that we don’t know and that we are discovering new species all the time.

She took my story, Rochelle’s story, and Levi confirmed what the noise sounded like.  I was the only one who saw Bigfoot because I had hiked up off the trail high enough to see it.  I can’t tell you what it looked like other than it was very tall, looked half-human and half ape, walked upright, and had very dark hair (i.e., a mix of very dark brown and/or black hair).  It happened way too quick and all I could think about after I saw it was to get my family the heck out of there.  I’ve done some surfing on the internet and what I saw looked a lot like this picture below.

Rochelle and I are willing to talk with anyone.  We don’t believe that it is right to have this kind of experience and to hide it from the rest of the world.  Please feel free to pass this on to anyone you think would be interested in hearing the truth. This is a true story that just happened today (7-1-2000 shortly after 5pm).

Dr. Matthew A. Johnson

BFRO investigator Scott Herriott installs motion-activated camera on the mountain side.
Photo by John Freitas

OTHER WITNESSES: Myself, my wife, my three children

ENVIRONMENT: National forest at the Oregon Caves

Follow-up investigation report:

Update: July 25, 2000: BFRO investigators have been working intermittently in the area since Dr. Johnson's incident. Large indistinct tracks have been found, but nothing worth casting. A few other credible witnesses have come forward reporting similar incidents in the same area prior to Johnson's incident.

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