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WV '06 Expedition - Jerry Adair's Notes



These notes were written by Jerry and Melissa Adair (Georgia BFRO). They were present during a portion of the Saturday night encounter in West Virginia. His notes begin with his arrival at the expedition.

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(edited)

Melissa and I arrived at the base camp around 6ish on thursday. We found Pam Lovins [abbrev. "PL" - to distinguish her from Pam Porter "PP") there and talked with her for a while. The group next to us was the Pennsylvania group. Upon setting up camp, I had gone back behind our tent and across the road to look for firewood. I found deer tracks all through the woods.

We hooked up with PL and her "R2D2" unit [a car-roof-mounted, remote-controlled, thermal-imager] and decided to just go for a drive with the system to see if we could see anything. We found the cabin that [some of the organizers] were staying in and touched base with them.

PL wanted to check out a section of FS road where a person supposedly had a class A/B incident. That night I operated R2D2 as PL drove. Melissa was on the digital camera and PL's gen 3 night vision. PL drove slowly but we didnt really see anything special -- a few rodents, deer, some cows and that was about it. Nothing spectacular. It was really really cool to check out a thermal camera setup like that. You definatly need a three man team with her system.

We got back around midnight and headed off to bed. Friday morning we got up and met with the group at 10:30am for breakfast. There was talk about going to the Cranberry to tromp around in that area and see what we might be able to find. It took us a little bit of time to find the location, after asking directions again. We headed up the the FS trail and passed where the boardwalk was, continued on up further north and parked. The gate blockes the road so you're on foot. I wanted to check out the northern section of the cow pasture trail. MM mentioned that a footprint was found and cast in this area less than a year ago.

Upon finding the trail, we moved on through and the trail was muddy and smooshy in some sections. We looked around a bit but did not find any type of markings, structures or footprints in this area. We were warned by PL to be careful up there, as she heard reports of many bears. The enviroment seemed right for squatches. Plenty of water, tons of deer trails, wild apples here and there, wild crabapples.

On part of the northern section and off the trail about 75 yards there is an observaction deck. We climbed up it and looked at the mountain ridges around us in the distance. Each of us went down and did the sound sequence that was recommended, but we got no response. Melissa made more sounds on top of the small observation tower. No response. We concluded that either there were no squatches around in that area, or they didnt care to reply back.

We left the glades and went back up to camp. Nick from Rhode Island said that some of them were going to dinner. We took off and had a good meal, talked and decided around 9:30pm to head on back and check out a few places. Kirk and Jill from Montana had already been up to the [eastern trail connected to base camp], and we wanted to hike around the river trail. We headed to [eastern] trail. We met at the area on top where you park and all got out. Lights were turned off and we [made sounds]. No response. We were reluctant to hike down a dark steep trail that none of us had seen in the daylight, so we headed back to the river trail and parked across the bridge. On the way we passed Rip Lyttle, who informed us that he was getting a good bit of noise and traffic along the ridge below where he was parked.

We started along the river trail, with mimimal lighting and walked probably a mile or two. We were across the river from the vacation house with the keypad gated entrance. We did a few [sound sequences] but did not hear anything special. Rip confirmed hearing our [sounds]. He said there was alot of traffic up on the ridge where he was. We headed back to our cars and moved over where Rip was located. Lights off and parked we listened and heard similar type sounds. I cannot say I heard biped footsteps, as he described, although it did sound like there were some kind of critters up there. We had the bionic ear with us and listened as well. Again it sounded like a big animal or something bobing around. I did hear a small bird chirping and flying around as well.

We went back to camp for a bit, then Melissa and I hopped in the car and drove back to where Rip was. This was around 1-2 am. We stayed there for a few minutes, hearing a few things, then decided to head back to camp and call it a night.

Saturday....and the 12 mile hike!!!

We got up as usual, started planning our day. It was our last day and we really had not had anything special happen. We were debating on leaving Saturday night or tuffing it out. We meet up with the group at 10:30AM had breakfast and was talking with the North Carolina crew about hiking along the river trail. David decided to go along with us. We gave him a ride over the bridge and parked. Then we were off...another 12 mile hike..but we had an increadable woodsman with us. I got to know a little bit more about David. He was talking about his experience tracking deer and other hunting experiences. We swapped stories about this and that and just chatted a bit.

The group was scheduled to meet up at base camp at 1pm. We were planning on being at the other side of the river at that time to hear what was going on by radio. Upon making it to our destination, David points to the side of the road and says, "Hey, look at that ... ". It was a small stick structure or what appeared to be one. I know David, I know..I was very skeptical on this. So we examined it and took a few pictures. The only reason I might say it was formed was because of one of the limbs that was bent back as if something was layed and pressed against it.

We continued on and meet our destination at the 1pm time. Stopped and listened to MM talk about they were going to rent mountain bikes and hit the trail. We wanted to hike up the steep ridge/rock outcrop to get to the top and see if we could observe the base camp site across the river. Coming around the bend of the river, we found a meadow on the left with deer tracks all over the place. We found a deer trail on the right wich gave us access to the side of the ridge.

At one point David asked me what type of tree we were walking around, as it had pointed thorns on it. I explained that it might be a wild hawthorn or wild crabapple tree, both of which bear fruit is edible to wildlife. I actually hav a recipie for wild crabapple pie, and has made tea out of dried hawthorn berries.

We tried to follow the ridge in a path that would enable an 8ft person to walk along easily. We soon came up to alot of undergrowth mountain laural. This stuff was thick, very thick. Several times we had to forge our own small trail or crawl around on hands and knees. We all three agreed that this would be very difficult for some 8ft 500lb creature to navagate through.

We finally made it to the top of the ridge of the outcrop and I could see a section of the gravel road down below. What a hike through alot of brush just to catch a glimps of the road! On the walkie-talkies we heard Matt and his crew on mountain bikes and we explained to them where to come up. We explained that there was alot of undergrowth and it was going to be a rough bushwacking job to get there. Oloff stated that he was on a different ridge and was hearing faint [sounds] in the distance.

As we continued on around the mountain laural groves, to get to a better position for a view, Oloff was informing us that he was leaving his position. Shortly thereafter we heard that Matt's group was heading in toward us. After some time we heard some movement and saw Matt approaching. Matt asked us if we saw anything or heard anything. Other than a deer grunting at us and seeing a few of them walking around (I think we counted around 7), there was nothing unusual to report.

Matt said his crew was going back down to move toward the rock ledge where the base camp could be seen from, if they could get up there. Eventually we decided to head down out of the laural groves and go to a small valley below. At this point David and Melissa both said they heard [faint sounds]. We got on the radio and told the other groups what we heard. Matt got on the radio and told us to move in the direction of the sounds to see what happens. We walked for a little while and came to a very open clearing. Basically we were in the saddle between two ridges. We looked around and agreed that it was an area where something 8ft tall could walk around in easily. We continued on up the ridgeline to our left and came to a rather large animal trail. David was saying it was an active deer trail and pointed out all the upturned leaves which meant a herd of deer passed through recently.

Melissa and David both [made sounds]. Matt's crew, on the trail below the rock ridge, could not hear [our sounds], although David did hear a faint [non-vocal sound] down the ridge and saddle. Someone stated on the radio that they heard [sounds] from the meadow and across the river and up on the opposite ridge (I believe this would put the sounds right where we were located on Saturday night).

Over the radio Matt asked for David to head on down the ridge by himself and [make more sounds]. I was very adamant that we should not seperate and just leave him up there. Melissa and I told him we would stay in eye contact with him and he headed on down a bit. He did more sounds but I don't believe we heard a response. We decided to head on down the ridge. We hopped over a barbwire fence and eventually made it to the meadow where we started.

We talked about what we saw and we headed on back to our car very very tired.

Saturday night...the fun begins....

We moved out, and went to dinner, and came back, and talk was that someone had something happen to them near the river's edge at base camp. Come to find out Oloff had something moving behind his tent, and a rock thrown, and something tromping out into the river.

Shortly after darkness fell the North Carolina crew arrived back at base camp and they had a story to tell. They said they had moved up the nearby trail along the side of the camp, and climbed up a ridge via a deer trail. After they sat and turned off their lights they heard [various sounds] and a rock was thrown at them. Getting the point quickly and not having the ability to reach anyone on the radio, the three of them quickly moved out of the area and headed back to base camp.

Everyone was excited. We started getting a small group of people together for a hike back to the area where it happened. I have to say, my mind sorta was putting several things together. What if....what if the squatches were using the ridge across the river for hunting...there was plenty of vegitation, hickory nuts, black walnut trees, apples crabapples, etc., etc., to feed on. There were also several places where you could ambush deer easily. What if...they were using the ridges by the camp for observation of people in the camp, and foraging in trash cans at night, for food or whatever. The river would supply water, fish, crawfish, muscles, etc., as well.

We met together and we were given instructions from Oloff that he did not want anyone freaking out or running if something happeneed. We asked David and his group how they went in, with respect to their lights. It was with white headlamps blazing. Oloff wanted to go in exacly like they did. This was running around 8pm-ish.

Upon heading in there was talk about splitting into several smaller groups, as one massive group might be too intimidating. We reached the destination about 15 min later. About 6 of us stayed at the lower section, the other 5 headed about 50 yards up the trail. Lights were turned off and Melissa was able to obtain PL's gen-3 night vision. Oloff had his gen-2 as well.

After everyone settled down and turned off their headlamps, it was not very long before we started hearing movement along the creek bed below us. Oloff was next to me. He heard the movement in the creek, and then he informed me that something else was moving across the rock ledges above us. I could hear something moving, then suddenly I heard something hit a leaf and land on the ground. I dont know if it was a rock or not. It sounded like a large hickory nut (shell and all) or a large black walnut falling from a tree high above, rip through a large leaf and hit the ground. Melissa kept looking through the nightvision and was not able to see anything through the laurel thicket. We sorta passed it [the nightvision scope] around between David and Melissa and both were not able to make out anything for sure.

The upper group was [making particular sequences of sounds]. I had taken a seat next to Oloff and suddenly heard a very deep, loud grunt. Talk about "puckered meter", mine was burried in the red when I realized what might have made it. I remember hearing the deer grunt, and I remember how I tried to grunt really low and deep. This was much louder, much deeper and stronger than any of the two. Chris P. was next to me laying down and I asked him if that was a grunt and he stated that it was. I then realized that there must be something above us looking down over the rock ledge, and another one probably across the creek bed moving along observing us, and another one further on up from the top group. The top group had made several [sounds] when a sudden, very powerful knock was heard roughly between the upper and lower groups. Instantly there was chatter on the radio " that was not us..that was not us". The knock was very distinct, deep and solid. Whatever did it was strong. It was something that could pick up a heavy log and swing it very hard against a tree.

We continued to hear something moving along the creekbed. It was getting closer. Then a rock was thrown. We heard the rock hit a tree and bounce. A moment later a branch was thrown. It hit the side of a tree with great force and bounced off.

We waited a little bit more. The upper group was [making various sequences of sounds] to draw their attention. Then suddenly we heard a very loud distinct howl like the Ohio howl. The duration was just the same. The changes in pitch were the same, the tone as well. I'm standing here in the dark, thinking OK, one above us, one across the stream, one possibly north of where the upper group is, and there might be a whole other group of them over the ridge, in the next hollow over.

At this point Melissa was starting to get a little nervous and several of us were getting cold. It seemed like the Big guy was not going to come a little closer to us. It was going stay at a distance. Melissa was fine with that. The temperature had dropped into the 20's (F). David, Melissa and myself were freezing, and thinking the squatchs must be getting a little bored.

We decided to head on back. Dexter and Spotter headed down with us as well. The rest of our group -- Nick, Joe , and Chris P. -- headed up the trail to the upper group to continue to listen. Melissa and I headed back to Davids camp and built a fire. This was around 11:30pm ish. We talked about what happened that night.

A little after midnight Nick cruised by and told us what happened up there after we felt. Nick said they had more rock throwing and a stick structure was found along the trail. They were amazed by the stick structure becuase it wasn't there when they first walked up there. He also said that Patty had seen something.

Seeing how it was late we decided to go back to bed. David was heading over to the other camp and find out what happened.


Sunday

Sunday morning we got up and packed up the car. We would have loved to stay longer but it was an 8 hr drive back home. We talked with David and his crew about hiking back up there in the day. We knew there would not be much in the way of footprints because the terrain was so rocky, but we wanted to see what the terrain looked like in the light. So we had breakfast, swapped stories and such at the lodge, then went back to the trail.

We headed back up the trail to the area of the Saturday night encounter. At one point on Saturday night, Melissa and David were using a nightvision scope and were looking at something on the hillside. They wanted to go back to that spot again, to see if the same shape was still there. Melissa myself and Nick all went back and looked around. Nick showed us the small stick structure.

I would have loved to look around through this area more. I definitely think another expedition should be scheduled for Fall 2007. All of the efforts of the expedition should be focused on the [Saturday night incident area], with more attention to the ridges overlooking the base camp.

Based on everything we saw ourselves while hiking around in there, I believe the ridge across the [land formation] is an important channel for them. If there is going to be another expedition to this area I'd like to hike back to where we were on that Saturday, and move further up the deer trail, and bushwack deeper into the forest to see what's on top of the rock ledge and beyond.

Hope you enjoyed reading what we experienced. I came out of it a lot wiser, braver, and more mindful of what lurks in the woods in some places.

Jerry Adair
Atlanta, GA