We set off down the trail with Kris and I in the lead. About thirty feet down the trail we found a young balsam fir that had had it’s top twisted off. The tree was originally about eight feet tall. The top three feet was missing, and the break at the top of the remainder showed obvious signs of a break made by twisting. The break was very fresh; the sap oozing out of the break was just beginning to crystallize. We estimated it to be less than a week old. Wind and normal animals do not make torsional breaks like this, usually. In theory, a bear could, if it had grabbed the top in its mouth side ways and then twisted as it came down. The most obvious culprit though would be something with thumbs. Something rather strong with thumbs. I could have done it so that didn’t rule out people.
One of the Highschool Guys said, “Hey, I found the top.” It was about twenty feet away in a bush. There was no sign that anything had been over there, no bear track or trace. It look like it was thrown into the bush. I looked at the top. There was no sign of teeth marks at all.
I looked at the others and said, “Well, this is not wind damage, nor is it a normal animal; however, it could be a person. We can’t rule out an action by a hiker, or even the possibility that BFRO people planted this to make the expedition more exciting.”
One of the IR Light Guys said, “Do you think they would do that.”
“I don’t think so, but, then again, I don’t really know Moneymaker, and this could all be a scam. We need to document everything we find and accept that not everything is evidence of a sasquatch, even if it is. Only the best evidence should be used as proof.” I proceeded to take pictures of the twist off.
Kris said, in a monotone voice under his breath to me, “Not every broken branch was broken by a sasquatch. Not every bent tree was bent by a sasquatch.” I just smiled.
We continued down the path. Just around the bend, out of sight of our camp I noticed a wide mud patch, bare of vegetation to the side of the trail. I told everyone not to step in it as it would make a great bait spot later. It was only about seven feet across and any sasquatch could easily reach into the middle to take bait, but any other animals taking the bait would likely make tracks as they did so. Therefore, if the apples I intended to leave there were gone in the morning without a trace, we could rule out anything but a sasquatch or a human.
The path was obviously well used, by something. It was flattened down, and concave. It was not a deer trail, at least not exclusively. Something with large flat feet had made this trail. Of course that could be people or bears as well, but I filed that knowledge away for later reflection. We crossed a small stream and a boggy area where we had to leap to get across the water. The trail got less “maintained” like that was as far as the local people typically, came. The path narrowed at that point, but still had that same concave flattened appearance.
After about a quarter mile or so, the trail suddenly ended in a small clearing, dotted with young balsams and ended in a wall of young balsams on the far side of the clearing. Kris was standing by a balsam and called us over. “Look at this.” He said.
He was pointing to the bent and broken top of a small balsam tree. The top had been broken three times in a twisting fashion. The pieces were still held together by a strip of bark. It really looked like something had been absentmindedly twisting/breaking it; it looked like something one would do when bored.
“Wow, that is really cool,” I said, “but of course we still can’t rule out that a person did this.”
“Oh, come on,” said one of the IR Light Guys, who’d do this way out here and why?”
“I don’t know. It’s starting to look like good evidence. A bear couldn’t have done this, nor could wind, but we can’t rule out a person, and we can’t ignore that Moneymaker did tell us to take this trail.” He rolled his eyes at me but I just shrugged and took a few pictures of it.
We noticed that from here the trail turned right and headed toward the swamp. We followed it but it came to an abrupt end after about fifty feet. At the end was a very large ant mound, about three feet in diameter. The mound had been repeatedly broken open in the past. You could clearly see where something had dug into it and the ants had repaired it in several places. The newest location was only a few days old, based on the amount of ant activity at that site.
The Highschool Guys decided to see if they could use the small clearing as a camp. The rest of us pushed on into the brush to try and find the edge of the bog. We fanned out looking for a trail or something. What we got was a bunch of very hard bushwhacking. We eventually found the edge of the bog. The hazel brush and rhododendrons marked the edge, and they were floating. You could tell by the way they moved when you stepped on them. This was an extremely dangerous bog. A man could easily fall through, get trapped under the floating islands, and drown. No one would ever likely find your body.
Finding no sign of a trail, we headed back to the little clearing. The IR Light Guys decided to head back to camp and get a fire going. It was about 7:00 in the evening, giving us at least two and a half hours of light yet. Kris and I decided to stay behind and help the Highschool Guys setup their tent. Kris and the Highschool Guys were looking at some possible bear sign to the East side of the trail and I was standing by the broken tree, looking at it. I happened to look up, across the little clearing and noticed another broken balsam. I walked over to it and saw that it too was twisted off. This balsam was at the edge of the balsam thicket at the end of the clearing. On closer inspection, I noticed that a few other twigs in the balsam wall were bent as if something had been going through them at that point a lot. I called the guys over and showed them what I’d found.
Kris looked at me, shrugged and walked through the thicket with the rest of us close behind. After about ten feet of easily sliding through the foliage, we came out again standing on the trail, with the same concave design as the other one. Where the trail entered the thicket on this side was another twisted down balsam top. The trail itself continued on, meandering through the forest. The old logging road was almost indistinguishable at this point, having been mostly reclaimed by the balsams and poplars, yet the area right around the trail seemed quite open, almost groomed, yet wild all the same. I was getting excited. If Moneymaker had orchestrated this for us, he sure went to a lot of trouble to do it. Honestly, he didn’t seem organized enough to have bothered setting this up almost a half mile into the woods.
As if he were reading my mind, Kris said, “Still think this was done by people?” I shook my head and shrugged, having nothing to give him.
We continued on for a ways and came up a small hill where there was a wide flat meadow, about thirty feet wide and a hundred feet long. The meadow was filled with wild strawberries. We had a look around and noticed that most of the strawberries had been eaten already; I only found a handful we could eat. The Highschool Guys decided that they would pitch their tent here. It seemed like a good spot; the best we’d seen yet.
“You need help?” I asked.
“Not really, why?” one of them replied.
I looked at Kris for confirmation as I said, “Well, Kris and I would like to go and scout the rest of the trail before it starts getting dark.”
“Yeah.” said Kris. Sometimes he gets rather monosyllabic when we are around new people. He’s not really a shy guy, but I think he was more focused on the woods. I’m a good woodsman. Kris is a great one. He was becoming The Hunter, a state where he disconnects with people and focuses on his surroundings. He gets quiet and watches, immersing himself in the woods.
“We’ll be back within an hour.” I said, glancing at my watch and the sky, really wanting to get back to camp before dark. I hadn’t brought a light with me and I was guessing Kris hadn’t either.