Date of Encounter:
Time of Encounter:
Arrived at base camp at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 17, 2009. Checked in and headed out to satellite camps for setup. DD (whom I’ve just met) and I are instructed to set up at Heart camp approximately 1-½ miles south east of base camp. Heart camp is located in a densely wooded area accessed by a single trail from the west and is between two bogs to the north and south. The southern bog is shaped like a heart, thus the name. I pitched my tent in the north east ‘y’ in the divergence of the trail while DD set up his tent approximately 100 yards north of mine. During the set up of my tent, I become very nervous and was not comfortable being alone. I didn’t feel that I was being watched, but I didn’t like the feeling and headed over to DD’s tent and we agreed to both sleep in either of the two locations, but together.
At approximately 5:00 p.m., we took DD’s truck to base camp for the first group meeting. As we drove through a clear cut section of the trail, a very loud bang hit the side of the truck right next to me. It startled both of us as DD stopped the truck. I was looking east towards the clear cut through the open window and didn’t see anything but saw a dent in the side of the truck. I thought we had been hit with a rock. DD asked if we should stop or keep going. I told him to keep going and radioed in that we had been hit with a rock. We both were very shaken by this incident. My arms tingled for the next 45 minutes during the meeting. As we examined the truck, there was evidence of other dents lower and to the right of the one I saw from the window. AP (trip organizer) noted the incident before breaking up the group meeting and we headed back to Heart camp. AP also stated that he was paralleled on his walk back from Heart camp after dropping us off. On the drive back, we stopped at the incident location and found a log next to the road. We measured the log with the marks of the truck and then determined we ran it over it hit the truck instead of it being a rock.
We arrived back at Heart camp and finished setting up camp as darkness hit. With a new moon and no camp fire, it was pitch black. At approximately 8:30, DD and I started our first dark walk to base camp for the group meeting. With the extremely dense forest, we were not able to see anything and took it very slowly as we bumped into each other over the course of the mile and a half walk. Although it was unnerving, it was uneventful. At the meeting, we advised AP that we had not been hit with a rock and simply ran over a log.
At approximately 11:00 p.m., we left the base camp to return to Heart camp. The walk was uneventful. Upon arriving at Heart camp, we walked down the trail towards DD’s tent and found a simple stick structure and stopped to look. We both became very nervous and both felt quite uneasy as a branch snapped quite loudly about 15 feet to the east. We both walked quickly to my tent and got into bed very soon after that. I fell asleep very quickly at approximately 11:30 p.m. and slept on and off the whole night. My air mattress deflated leaving me to sleep on the ground. I had to turn occasionally to get comfortable.
I woke up at 7:00 a.m. on Friday morning and left the tent to make some tea. DD was still asleep so I left him alone in the tent. Upon his waking at approximately 9:30, he indicated we had been visited all night long and he heard footfalls and very distinct multiple branch breaks. He indicated it was very slow and deliberate, but was close to the tent and around both cars. He did not fall asleep until sunrise, and heard it the entire night. Something else was hitting the tent and it wasn’t leaves falling from the tree. The leaves made a scratching sound as they slid down the rain tarp of the tent. This was a rolling sound as it hit and fell. As we walked around the tent, we found berries growing close to the ground and picked a couple and threw them at the tent. DD looked at me with an astonished look on his face and said “That is the exact sound I heard all night long.” He said they hit after I stopped snoring and every time I changed positions in my sleep. He counted at least 25 of them that night. I didn’t hear any of them hit.
This was very exciting news, but DD was wiped out since he only got about 2 ½ hours of sleep that night. We had breakfast and hiked to base camp for the 11:00 a.m. group meeting. DD recounted his night and we were provided with instructions on what to do for our next night in the woods. We told AP we would welcome anyone else willing to join us as we were both excited and freaked about staying in that camp. After the meeting, we hiked back to Heart camp and explored the area in more detail. The berries that hit the tent grow very low to the ground and there wasn’t anything directly above our tent that would hit it and make the rolling sound. The berries had to have been thrown. We found several footprints in the berry patch, none of which were capable of being cast in plaster. We measured the prints to be between 17 to 19 inches long. We took pictures of the prints and documented their location.
Later in the afternoon, EE and ME arrived with AP and asked if they could join us. DD and I were very pleased to have them with us. I had met EE at the Wisconsin expedition and he brought his wife along for this trip. We talked about strategies for the night and got ready for the dinner at base camp. We decided after the base camp activities, we would set up a campfire and see what happens. At approximately 11:00 p.m., a large group started hiking in the direction of our camp. The majority turned around just as we hit the densest part of the forest, leaving us four to continue towards our camp. Again, there was no moon and it was pitch black. We couldn’t see two feet in front of us.
Upon arriving at 11:30, we started a fire to the south of the trail. We sat in a semi-circle to the north of the fire as there was a drop off towards the bog to the south. We had a thermal imaging scope for the night and it was being passed around between all four of us. At approximately midnight, we started hearing footfalls to the south of the fire that were very close (15 to 30 feet away). We could not see anything even with the light from the fire. I took the thermal scope and looked around the area directly behind the fire and saw a round image with two black spots and stayed on it for several seconds just as the batteries died. I spent the next several minutes replacing the batteries and immediately went back to that spot to see if it was still there and it was. The object was round but was bracketed on both the top and bottom by woods. No other features were seen except for the two black spots exactly where eyes would be located.
The noise continued to the south of the fire but we decided to let it burn down and get ready for bed. As the fire was down to just coals, something landed on DD’s camp chair, right between his legs. EE was to the east looking through the thermal and I was on DD’s left with ME to his right. He asked if we heard that and we both said yes. ME asked what it was and when he reached to pick it up, found a white Good ‘n Plenty which he had been eating early in the evening. He spilled several over by my table before we left for the group meeting. All three of us were shocked to see it and after the initial reaction, laughed really hard. We did some drop tests to see if it fell off of his jacket, but he said that he saw it fall in front of his face on the way down, so it was thrown. We all started to get freaked out, so I stoked up the fire after that and we stayed around it, listening to the footfalls to our south before going to bed at 1:00 a.m. I fell asleep immediately and slept through the night without waking.
I woke up at 6:55 a.m. on Saturday and within a minute, heard a berry hit the tent. The sound of it rolling down the rain tarp was distinctive. My watch beeped at 7:00 a.m. and within another minute, heard one branch break off to the east and then another further off to the south west. The one to the east was very loud and was within 25 feet of the tent. The one to the west was quite a ways off. I stayed in my tent listening and after twenty minutes with no activity, got up to make some tea. I put the kettle on and walked around as it heated up. As the water neared boiling, I was standing to the west and got a very uneasy feeling. It wasn’t a feeling of being watched, just an overall uneasiness which dissipated after several minutes. DD, EE and ME were all still sleeping, so I was alone.
At 8:21, I heard a series of three howls approximately 2 to 3 hundred yards to the north. These were very loud and distinct and were close. Less than a minute later, another single howl came from the same direction, but was not as loud. They sounded like a human was making them, but not exactly. Tough to explain. We heard coyotes the previous night and it wasn’t close to that and was only one making the howl, not a pack like we heard.
I then walked over to DD’s truck and stepped up on the bumper to get a look in that direction, when 50 yards to my west, a grouse spooked out of the trees and flew off. It put quite a scare in me. I was feeling very alone, but didn’t want to wake the others. At 9:21, another branch snapped to the east of the tent just before EE opened the door to this mini-van. He and ME slept in the van and not in their tent which was set up close by. They didn’t hear anything during the night. DD woke up next and told me he heard several footfalls, branch snaps, and counted 11 berries hitting the tent during the night. He slept on and off, but said they were much less quiet than the previous night. I asked if grouse normally get spooked and fly off or does something force them to do it. He said they will stay very still until you are right upon them before they take off, so something was in the vicinity.
At the morning meeting, I asked if anyone was making call and they were, but were a long way from Heart camp. They did get responses from our direction which I am sure was what I heard. We spend the day hiking and exploring the area and found a complex stick structure deep inside the bog as EE, DD and I bush whacked through heavy forest. It was ¼ mile due north of our camp.
We decided to have another camp fire on Saturday night but started just before dusk. We cooked dinner around the fire and were joined by Frank and Duane from Vista camp to the east. We had the thermal scope again this night and I looked in the exact spot where I saw the image the previous night and nothing was there. We heard several noises during the night, but nothing we would classify as footfalls. Frank and Duane left our camp at midnight and we continued for another hour without anything to report. We went to bed at 1:00 a.m. and I stayed awake for approximately ½ hour hearing nothing.
At 3:00 a.m., I woke up to hear a loud grunting noise in the camp. It was very close and very loud. I could feel my chest start to pound and my breathing became very rapid as the sound of the grunts continued. After several minutes, my breathing slowed down, and my rational part of my brain kicked in as I realized I wasn’t hearing sasquatch grunts, rather I was hearing EE snoring. Man, was it loud. I instantly deepened my respect for ME having to deal with that noise on a nightly basis.
At approximately 5:00 a.m. I woke up and DD says “they’re here”. I was groggy, but said okay. The previous night, we had pulled up the rain tarp to allow a small viewing opening to the east. I had the thermal scope with me and intended to see if I could get a view where the berries were being thrown from. DD went back to sleep and I took the thermal into my sleeping bag to turn it on as I was hearing soft footfalls to the east. I believe the humidity in my sleeping bag fogged the viewing lenses of the thermal scope because I couldn’t see anything outside. I turned off the scope and just tried to peak out and see something, but it was completely dark. Over the next 1 ½ hours, I kept looking out, but didn’t hear or see anything further.
I got out of the tent around 7:30 and made some tea. EE woke up shortly thereafter and the first thing I said to him was he had one hell of a case of sleep apnea and really had me going for a few minutes. I confirmed that he did and he apologized for scaring the crap out of me. DD woke up and said he heard several incidents and one very loud noise around my stove. I had fried up some steak for dinner the previous night and didn’t wash the pan, leaving it on the stove. There were no fingerprints as dew covered everything. DD counted 4 for berries hitting the tent, whereas I heard none.
(SRA-Andy, 11/18/2012) This series of incidents happened during an expedition I led in Minnesota in 2009. There were several sightings that trip as well as vocalizations and other evidence. I did go to their camp after they had heard the berries hitting the tent. They were under pines and at first I thought it could have been a squirrel dropping pine cones, but upon closer inspection I found several of the berries still lying under their tent, on top of the ground tarp.