Squatch Crazy Chapter 2: Wacky in Wisconsin
Continued from Squatch Crazy, Part 3.
If our previous sighting made me crazy, what we did next put us over the edge into pure insanity. It is amazing, how things played out. I thought that having figured out what we had seen would give me closure, but the opposite happened; I became positively obsessed with sasquatches and the hunt for them. I read all the new BFRO reports, read a few books, and followed the forums and information I could find on the web.
Then a few years later, I noticed that the BFRO was going to hold an expedition in Wisconsin. Cool! But it would cost $300 for Kris and I to attend. I jokingly mentioned it to my wife. She looked at me very seriously and said, “You need to go.”
“Naw,” I replied, “I was just kidding. Seriously, it is a lot of money and we don’t even know much about the BFRO. It could be a scam.”
“True,” she said, “but no one else can give you this opportunity. Besides, $150 is cheap. A four day community ed class would cost at least that much.”
The next day, I brought it up with Kris. He got excited too. Maybe we could do this. At any rate, it would be a fun adventure we could share together, something we hadn’t been able to do for many years.
The next day he called me back and shattered all my dreams. Financially, he just couldn’t do it. He’d just bought an old house and they really could not spare the money at that time. I told my wife the news that night, and she replied, “OK, we’ll pay for him as well.”
“What?” I stammered, my mouth open as my hopes started to swell again.
Looking at me in exasperation, she said, “It’s only $300, you need to do this. We’ll pay for both of you to attend. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Have I mentioned how much I love my wife or just how unfathomably lucky I am to have found her? Seriously, I love my wife!
I told Kris. He got as excited as I. We spent about an hour discussing what it would mean and what we would do. Afterward, I went online and submitted our request to attend.
The next day, I got a call from none other than Matt Moneymaker, the head of the BFRO. He spent about a half hour interviewing me about my reasons for wanting to come and what Kris and I had to offer the expedition. I must have passed his criteria, because he invited us to attend. We sent him the fee via PayPal that afternoon and were granted access to a special forum that only expedition attendees could access.
Over the course of the next six months, Kris and I were in a flurry of activity. We communicated with the other participants on the expedition forum, collected the gear we thought we’d need, and generally drove our wives crazy with our excited enthusiasm. Finally, the day of the trip arrived. I loaded up my cherry-red, mini van and headed for Kris’s. When I got there, he was still packing. Half of his house was covered in unpacked camping supplies and enough food to feed the entire expedition for a month. I had thought that I had over packed, but he took it to a whole new level.
We had to remove the back two rows of seats, but in the end we got all of our stuff crammed in there and hit the road. We had a great time on that road trip. We talked a lot about our past together, reminiscing on the good old days. We also listened to the Sierra Sounds, which is a collection of purported sasquatch vocalizations. I knew that if I heard anything like that at night in the woods, I’d be done (or at least in dire need to change my pants).
We also discussed the BFRO and whether we could trust this guy, Matt Moneymaker. We decided to play it cool and not take anything at face value. We truly wanted to approach everything with a skeptical eye, only attributing things to sasquatch that had no other logical source. We even developed what we now call the Squatching Mantra, as follows:
Not every twig snap is a sasquatch.
Not every leaf rustle is a sasquatch
Not every howl, growl, or whistle is a sasquatch.
Not every broken branch was broken by a sasquatch.
Not every bent tree was bent by a sasquatch.
Not every pile of sticks was built by a sasquatch.
Not every light in the woods is a sasquatch.
Not every creepy feeling is caused by a sasquatch.
Only when all other possibilities have been ruled out will I call it a sasquatch.
I still use that to this day when I am in the field examining evidence. I find that it reminds me that only the best evidence can be stacked in favor of it being a sasquatch. When trying to prove the incredible, only incredible proof will do. Little did we know that we were about to find just such proof.
We pulled into the campground late in the afternoon. A sign met us, stating that we were to proceed to an alternate location and meet the rest of the group. We looked up the alternate meeting spot in the literature I’d printed from the forum and drove out there.
The part of WI where we were is a combination of farmland, lakes, huge peat/rhododendron bogs, and forest. We wove our way through town, noting that the locals obviously knew we were here; one local diner was advertising “Bigfoot Burgers” in their windows.
“Great,” I thought, having grown up in a small town, “If the locals know, our chances of being hoaxed by the area teen population just skyrocketed.”
We drove out of town and onto a maze of dirt roads, eventually pulling into what must have once been a logging access road. Many other cars were parked in this area. We parked and got out to see what was going on. About twenty people were milling around looking rather grumpy. After inquiring, we learned that they were all waiting for instructions from Matt who was over an hour late. We went back to our van, grabbed a couple Dews, and leaned up against it, soaking in the warm June sunshine. It was a beautiful day, the sun filtered down through the canopy, lighting the leaves into a brilliant green roof.
After another half hour or so, a car came screaming into the glade where we were all parked. A portly man of average height jumped out of the still running car and proceeded to berate us all for just standing around and not scouting the area. We all looked quizzically at each other and then back at him. Grumpily, he told us all to get back in our cars and follow him. And that was my first impression of the infamous Mr. Moneymaker.
Kris and I jumped in the van and got in line. Matt got his car and started driving down a rutted logging road going downhill, deeper into the forest. Occasionally, he’d stop, look around, and tell a car or two to pull over and set up camp. After driving in for about a mile, we got to the bottom of the hill in a large grassy glade edged on all sides by trees and thick brush. You couldn’t see more than a few feet into the forest in any direction. The road took a sharp right and continued on from there. To the left, an old, grown-over, logging trail with a single worn path down the center of it led off into the forest. Matt signaled for us and two other cars to stop here.
While the others were parking and milling around, I went up and spoke to Matt. “This looks like a good spot,” he told me, “The swamp is right over there, pointing to the side of the clearing. The guys behind you are going to be hanging with you here, but they will be going back to the campground. Are you staying out here?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Good, you and your friend camp here. Two cars back are some recent grads who want to pack it in. They are going to go down that trail and find a spot.” He said pointing to the left hand trail. “You and …”
“Kris” I supplied.
“Yeah, Kris…are experienced hunters and woodsmen, right.”
“Yes,” I replied, thinking of the thousands of hours we had spent tracking deer for fun, hunting, and generally just being in the woods.
“Good, after you set camp, I want you to take the others and go down that trail. Find the kids a place to camp and look for sign along the edge of the swamp. Sasquatches will typically have a trail going around the perimeter of these swamps and some going into them. Tell the others to stay out of the swamp, they are dangerous and we don’t want to invade the sasquatches’ sanctuary. Our goal is to bring them to us. You know what evidence to look for?”
“Yes,” I said, “I assume tree breaks, footprints, signs of trails, signs of feeding, stick structures, etc…”
“Good, you’ve done your homework. Have a good night.” He immediately continued down the road with the rest of the caravan.
With the others’ help, we set up our camp quickly, built a fire pit and found a supply of wood for us to use later. We all ate a brief, cold dinner before heading down the trail. It is interesting now that I really cannot recall any of the names of those who joined Kris and I. I suppose, given the subject matter, they would probably prefer anonymity anyway. Kris and I were meeting so many people that weekend, that we really couldn’t keep them all straight in our heads anyway, so we made up nicknames for everyone, based on our perceptions of them, at least until we got to know them good enough to know their names. The three young men going packing down the trail became the High School Guys. The other three men in our camp we learned their names at first that night, but would later re-dub them as the IR Light Guys (more on that later).
Continued on Squatch Crazy, Part 5.